Attention marketers: Facebook #hashtags have arrived.
According to a July 2013 report from Syncapse, Facebook's adoption of hashtags--a social network functionality symbolized by the pound sign (#)--creates new opportunities and challenges for social brand marketers.
Facebook's foray into hashtags brings it closer to what the study's author, Wahida Lakhani, calls a "real-time network." She says that Facebook traditionally was the site where people and brands post richer content, whereas Twitter (the site most associated with hashtags) was "the channel of choice to engage users in ongoing, fast-paced updates and conversations."
Facebook has reported it will support hashtags across all platforms connected to it, meaning hashtagged content from immensely popular and external peer networks like Instagram and Twitter will be clickable and searchable inside Facebook. Another item of note: Facebook's hashtag feature is not yet supported on mobile devices; users will be able to make use of hashtags in their posts, but will be unable to click-through to a hashtag search feed.
Lakhani lists several benefits of hashtags for brand markets, including social listening, branded hashtags and greater discovery.
Concerning this last point, Lakhani writes, "Brands will have the opportunity to not only listen, but become meaningful participants in consumers' conversations."
Paired with the list of benefits is a short list of what Syncapse dubs "watch-outs." Included are brand detractors (the misappropriation or misuse of hashtags), content silos (potentially diluting content users may have otherwise posted on a brand page) and incomplete conversations, though this isn't a challenge exclusive to Facebook.
--Frank Mauck, NAA