A repeating note throughout my Social Media series for nonprofit fundraising is that Facebook continues to dominate the social media landscape and, in a recent report, topped the market share. Nonprofits also acknowledge the importance of Facebook and many maintain a presence and have developed engaging strategies on this powerful communication channel. Facebook, like all social media platforms, are always making changes in an effort to improve the user experience and I wrote about 4 of its developments earlier this year. A new feature that has been recently added to the network is Facebook Public Conversations through hashtags. Perhaps borrowed from Twitter, it was only a matter of time that hashtags would eventually appear on Facebook postings, pages and newsfeeds. Actually before becoming an official feature, I would often notice my personal connections hashtagging their Facebook status updates much like they would their tweets.
What is it?
Much like on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, users can hashtag keywords relating to their post which can be grouped by other users to follow and participate in a public conversation or discussion. Hashtagged words are automatically highlighted in blue and underlined as clickable once posted. Users who are interested in a topic can use the search bar to search a specific hashtag or click on highlighted hashtagged word(s) appearing in news feeds, fan pages and friend’s posts and a feed screen streaming the conversation will open.
3 Tips on How to Use #hashtags Effectively
Select the right words – Carefully select your nonprofit or cause-related keywords that are logically connected to your content to ensure that other users and members of your community will come across them in searches and in overall conversations. Hashtagging works best only when the words correspond directly to your post, photo or video. Keep the hashtag short as they will be easier to read, ensuring that there are no spaces between multiple words. When possible include them within the context of a sentence so it looks cleaner, rather than simply adding them at the beginning or end of the post.
Use it as part of a campaign – Hashtag campaigns are growing in popularity, where keywords are used as part of a larger conversation that a community will follow. It’s important however to ensure that the words selected are not already being used for an existing or current campaign and that once selected it is used consistently throughout the campaign. Changing the hashtag mid-campaign will create two separate conversations and ultimately confusion amongst your community.
Monitoring Tool – Similarly to Twitter strategies, nonprofit social media community managers can also listen for your organization’s name and cause-related keywords to see what Facebook users are saying. Proactively listening to what is being said will give you an advantage in engaging users by participating in the conversation and addressing any negative comments or feedback. Unfortunately, as the feature is very new third-party management tools like Hootsuite have not yet been given access to this function. Expect this to become available in the near future, but in the meantime accessing and monitoring directly through Facebook, although not practical is the best way to monitor.
Hashtagging on Facebook as part of a public conversation definitely has its benefits and creative ways of using them are already appearing. However, the most important thing to remember with hashtagging on Facebook (as with other platforms) is #not #to #overuse #the #feature #as #it #looses #its #value.