UPDATE: Facebook does not use hashtags anymore on advertising. Therefore some content from this article may not apply any longer.
I guess by now everyone is aware hashtags can be used also on Facebook to tag specific topics, in the same way they’ve been long used on other Social Networks such as Twitter and Instagram.
If you are not familiar with hashtags, you can read my latest post on the topic.
I must say I was very excited myself with the idea of having hashtags on Facebook: they are not only a great way to drive traffic to your content, but they could also be used to create conversations around across different pages or accounts.
But the way Facebook has implemented this feature has a few flaws…
For example: there is not limit in the number of hashtags that can be used on each post – so some people are using them in a spammy way overloading their posts with several hashtags, some of them totally unrelated to the content. The way Facebook shows results seems quite random – although I think it could be based on hashtag popularity. They cannot start with a number…
All those are things that Facebook could adjust in the future though.
HASHTAGS ON ADVERTISING
Hashtags are not completely new to Facebook. They were implemented some months ago as part of something called Precise Interests, which is just one of the many targeting options offered to advertisers.
When creating an ad on Facebook through Power Editor, Precise Interests will let you target more accurately to which users you want Facebook to show your ad. And there are two ways of doing this:
- When a Precise Interest is preceded by a hashtag, Facebook will target your ad not only to the users interested in that particular topic, but also with any other interests closely related.
- If you target your ad to an interest without hashtag, then Facebook will show the ad only to those users who have an interest in that particular word, without extending to similar terms.
Using the same example as Facebook does on their help page, the precise interest #Cooking will also target your ad to people interested in “cooking tips” and “cooking and eating” among others. Using the Precise Interest “Cooking” (no hashtag here) will show the ad only to people with interest in Cooking.
DON’T GET CONFUSED
As you can see, Facebook uses hashtags to in two processes that are slightly different. It is important to know the difference, especially if you want users to find your content organically – that is: without investing money on advertising.
When used as part of a post, if someone clicks on a hashtag Facebook will show other posts only if they include that same hashtag. However, if used as a Precise Interest on an advertising campaign, one hashtag may be enough to reach a wider audience.
To overcome this issue, you may feel tempted to include in your posts a large list of related hashtags that would cover all related topics and variations of the original term. This could be a good option, but there is a risk associated: if you use too many hashtags on your posts, your audience may perceive you as spammy and could not engage. In many cases they would even produce negative feedback in the way of hiding the post or, if this behaviour happens too often, unliking your Page. The solution is using them with moderation and not including more than 3 or 4 per post.
Are you already using hastags as part of your Content Strategy on Facebook? Have you ever used them as a Precise Interests on advertising campaigns?