Facebook hashtags marketing recommendations

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Facebook appears to be renewing its embrace of hashtags and encouraging users to add hashtags to posts. Facebook now recommends hashtags on business pages based on texted entered, saying reach will increase if they’re used.

But should marketers and digital PR pros use hashtags on Facebook?

Marketers remain divided over that question. Facebook introduced hashtags to its network in 2013 after noticing their popularity on Twitter, but they never really caught on. People typically don’t add them and few search with them. User privacy controls also limit increased reach.

Fewer Hashtags Equal More Engagement?

Some marketers add hashtags liberally – perhaps too much. But many don’t bother with them, even though they use hashtags on other networks. They believe hastags on Facebook add clutter to messages and won’t improve reach. They might be right.

Buzzsumo analysis of a billion Facebook posts in 2016 revealed that posts without hashtags received more engagement than those with hashtags. More recent research finds that one hashtag is more effective than multiple ones.

Facebook’s renewed push may change the rules. “Heck, if we can get even a teeny increase in organic reach, I say use hashtags liberally on Facebook!” writes Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith. “Many members of my Social Scoop Facebook group are starting to report seeing a slight increase in reach with the use of hashtags now.”

Although Facebook says hashtags will boost reach, marketers will need to experiment with their own content to find out for themselves, says Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today. By promoting hashtag use, Facebook may encourage people to search with the tags, but it may be trying to boost engagement by nudging people towards more content.

Recommendations for Facebook Hashtags

Facebook issued its own guidelines for brands, but that was back in 2016. Since then, marketers have been seeking updated best practices.

How many hashtags? Most experts have recommended one or two hashtags per post. Add them judiciously and with careful consideration. “It’s completely pointless adding loads of hashtags for the sake of it or adding hashtags that no one is going to monitor or care about,” says Ian Cleary of Razor Social in a Post Planner expert round-up. But others experts now suggest three to five, and expanding to 10 to 15. Of course, the content of the post must support the use of each hashtag.

Cross-platform marketing and measurement. Include hashtags you already use on Twitter or Instagram on Facebook. That cross-platform integration will improve overall social media measurement on each word or phrase you use. “Build your own groups of hashtags to paste into various posts for specific purposes, just like on Instagram,” Smith says. You can also link your Instagram account to cross post to Facebook, although some people may feel that large numbers of hashtags on Facebook look out of place.

Add hashtags to old posts. Consider reviewing some of your best-performing Facebook posts and adding hashtags, Smith suggests. Also add a comment and see if friends and fans can add a comment, which can increase reach.

Branded hashtags. Some marketers create their own branded hashtags that their audience will associate with the brand and its content. If you undertake that strategy, create one that’s simple and easy to remember. Use it consistently.

Trend jacking. Feel free to include popular hashtags, such as those from sports or popular culture, as long as posts are relevant to the hashtag and tasteful.

Test them. Perform hashtag A/B tests and monitor results, recommends PR and marketing pro Amanda MacMaster. Some hashtags are relevant on multiple social media platforms, but others are successful on only one platform. Just because it works on Twitter, don’t assume that the same hashtag is beneficial on Facebook.

Put them at the end. Your Facebook followers may consider them annoying since they’re not used to them, MacMaster says. Instead of using them in the middle of your sentence, like many users on Instagram, place all hashtags at the end of the post.

Join the crowd. Sometimes, the most popular hashtag offers the best option, according to Facebook’s guidelines issued in 2016 You may feel tempted to differentiate a topic or promote the topic like: #NBAFinalsOnABC but fans may be using the simpler version of the hashtag, #NBAFinals.

Track Facebook hashtags. Tracking relevant hashtags with a social media monitoring tool enables brands to learn what topics most interest their followers. Marketers can return to topics when associated hashtags perform well. Although tracking hashtags may seem more straightforward on Twitter or Instagram, keeping an eye on trends on Facebook is also a smart move for brands.

Bottom Line: Facebook’s renewed emphasis on hashtags may help brands increase reach on the network. These recommendations from Facebook and marketing gurus can help marketers and digital PR pros accomplish that goal.