Houston: If there’s one group of Facebook users that’s actually excited about the introduction of Facebook hash tags, it’s possibly brands. Hashtags will make it simpler for customers and fans to discuss and interact with their favorite companies, and they will streamline discovery for the companies and products they love – now if they want to see who else is talking about Doritos, typing #Doritos will disclose a bunch of Facebook conversations, while typing it into the original search bar on Facebook would not yield nearly as thorough results.
Hashtags are a discovery tool, and if there is one thing businesses want, it’s to be discovered by more promising clients. That’s why appearing in searches is so important for companies and why search engine optimization (SEO in June 2013) has become such a booming business.
Eric Covino, an SEO expert and founder of SEO optimization company Creative Signals, think Facebook hashtags have the capability to play a big role in business marketing. “When we think of ‘SEO’ we start with user experience and relevancy. So what these Facebook hashtags will do for businesses is allow them to engage customers and potential customers with relevant conversation as opposed to just throwing Facebook ads at them,” he explains. If Covino’s opinion is correct, it might clarify why Facebook just cut some of its ad programs, including Sponsored Stories, which used to be one of the company’s selling points when it clarified how it worked promotional materials into the interface.
Hashtags will give another chance for brands to insert themselves more flawlessly into the Facebook experience, but if they’re done right, they won’t annoy the bejeezus out of Facebook users like Sponsored Stories did. The only question about that: will Facebook try to monetize hashtags, like Twitter is doing with things like partnerships with American Express? The answer is yes, absolutely – but when and how remains to be seen. But you can count on sponsored hashtags making their way to your Facebook feed.
Either way, though, as far as Google SEO is concerned, hashtags on Facebook will function in a different way than hashtags on Twitter and Google+. “Google doesn’t have the capability to get the same level of information from Facebook (inside of Facebook) as it does from Twitter or Google+. So this isn’t a direct tie-in to SEO updates and that’s perfectly ok,” Covino says. “There are a lot of indirect ways to help your SEO updates and getting involved in conversations with potential customers, in an engaging way, is the first step in giving them a great user experience.”
At present, the Facebook hashtags are pretty bare-bones, and not every account can use them yet. But Facebook plans to roll out latest features in coming weeks, including trending hashtags and insights, which will make it even simpler for brands to work out how to employ the new feature for SEO purposes.
One exciting way hashtags are optimized for Facebook: if you cross-post from Instagram, the hashtags you use on Instagram will emerge on Facebook. But if you click on them, instead of getting sent back to Instagram, you will just see allied hashtags on Facebook. This means that whatever is being cross-posted could alter conversationally – a hashtag might mean one thing on Twitter or Instagram, and something else on Facebook; despite, it will feed the Facebook conversation only. Yet another thing that brands will have to reflect on in their hashtagging campaigns.
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