New Opportunity for Marketers: #Facebook
Last March, many people (including myself) speculated that Facebook would add hashtags as part of the news feed redesign. Yesterday, Facebook announced that they are indeed rolling out hashtags on the world’s largest social network. Facebook’s adoption will make hashtags even more ubiquitous from both a user and marketing perspective. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the onslaught of hashtaggery.
Parity Across Platforms
By finally supporting clickable hashtags, Facebook joins the ranks of it’s industry peers; Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. If you are on a social platform, it will be hard to escape hashtags. Proper planning and implementation around hashtags will be paramount for any successful marketing strategy in the future. This means coming up with proprietary hashtags that are memorable and consistent across platforms.
Facebook is creating an ecosystem where graph search, the news feed redesign, and hashtags enable users and marketers higher levels of targeting than ever before. A brand will now be able to focus less on how to get their content surfaced and more on cultivating the conversation.
Marketers have already embraced the hashtag for its ability to digitally brand and aggregate content. As a result of the hashtag's marketing utility, consumers have grown accustomed to hashtag calls to action in commercials, out of home advertising, and, of course, on the social networks themselves. This participatory content is bundled together via the hashtag for easy viewing and even more amplification potential.
Amplification - A Purina Example
The 1.11B Facebook user base represents a large marketing opportunity as far as the hashtag is concerned. Take the recent campaign by Purina #catperson. Purina wanted to inspire people to share their love of cats by using #catperson. Purina went to great lengths combining paid+owned+earned media to make this campaign as visible as possible, even going so far as to display Tweets on a digital billboard in Times Square.
Had Facebook rolled out the hashtag a bit earlier, Purina could have reasonably doubled their campaign reach overnight—amounting to an additional 20 million impressions! Beyond campaign reach, Purina missed out on harnessing the great momentum they created by trending on Twitter to generate buzz on other platforms. They missed the chance at seeing a social media domino effect from conversations being transmitted across platforms by means of their campaign hashtag.
With hashtag ubiquity comes an even greater need to filter and distil content. Hashtags are already being incorporated into brands’ paid marketing strategies; we see them every day on television, in sponsored Tweets, and in banner ads. Brands are paying for hashtag exposure because they recognize the mechanism’s ability to spark earned conversation. We at Mass Relevance have positioned ourselves to process this earned conversation to be redisplayed on owned websites or broadcasts, thus completing the paid, owned, earned media cycle so crucial to marketing success today. Facebook adding hashtags allows for a lot more earned conversation to take place around your company. How will you respond?