Facebook Hashtags and Their Implications for Advertisers

Facebook has introduced hashtags, this could allow advertisers to take advantage of user intent and increase click through rates.

Facebook Hashtags and Their Implications for Advertisers

Facebook has introduced hashtags, this could allow advertisers to take advantage of user intent and increase click through rates.

Facebook has announced that they are going to introduce Twitter style hashtags into their posts. This will allow people to tag subjects within a post and by clicking on the tag you will be able to see all the other public updates that include the same tag.

For example I might post an update about social media using the hashtag #socialmedia. Users will be able to click on #socialmedia and get a list of other status updates that have that same tag in them. The list is in chronological order with the newest tags at the top.

Including a hashtag in your update does not mean that the post will be made public. Let’s take the example of Adam, Barbara and Charlie. All three of them are fans of Britains Got Talent. Adam and Barbara are friends on Facebook but neither of them is connected to Charlie. Adam posts the following status update:

“You’ve got to love Simon Cowell #BGT”

Adam has his account to only share his updates with friends. This means that Barbara can see Adam’s post but Charlie cannot. However Charlie, whose posts are all public, updates his status with:

“I love #BGT”

If Barbara clicks on the #BGT hastag in Adam’s post then she will also see Charlie’s, but if Charlie wants to see what other people are saying about Britains Got Talent he will not see Adam’s post due to Adam’s privacy settings.

Users will also be able to use the search box to look for specific hashtags.

Hashtags have proven very popular on sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. They are at their most useful during big TV shows, live sports events or during breaking news and this is likely to be the same with Twitter. I have to admit that most of the big news events that happen I now hear of first via Twitter than from watching the news.

There are a number of reasons that the world’s largest social network would want to introduce hashtags. One reason is that it helps people to connect with other like minded individuals, the ability to search for a particular hashtag can help people to comment on each others posts. This may possibly even lead to more people being open about what they post as by posting publicly individuals will be able to take part in more of a community experience.

There is also the fact that many TV and radio programs will advertise either their Twitter accounts or a Twitter hashtag while they are broadcasting to engage with viewers/listeners on that network. This gives Twitter an awful lot of free advertising and it is possible that Facebook feels that it is being neglected


How Hashtags Could Impact Advertisers

From an advertisers perspective hashtags have massive potential. At the moment one of the greatest things about advertising on Facebook is the granular level of detail that you can get. I could run an ad on Facebook that is targeted at men aged 25-55 who live within 10 miles of Blackburn, Lancashire and who have an interest in pizza. The data that can be mined is unsurpassed allowing a demographic to be created based on age, location and interests. However, imagine this as a scenario. A pizza chain advertises on TV and within the advert for their new pizza they display on screen the hashtag #iwantpizzanow. Now imagine if that same company could run an advert on Facebook that is triggered when a user incorporates the hashtag #iwantpizzanow and that ad tells the user that they can order that same pizza that they have just seen on screen right now. That takes advantage of user intent.

Traditionally pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on search engines have achieved higher click through rates (CTR) than on Facebook because with a search engine the ad is triggered by the user searching for a particular keyphrase, the user has intent. Whereas on Facebook advertisers are trying to lure users away from what they are on Facebook to do, look at their friends updates. A carefully phrased hashtag could allow advertisers to create user intent and target users who have the desire to purchase the goods or services that are being offered.

Facebook could go even further and sell the rights to advertise against specific hashtags to the highest bidder. Think about the competition from various companies selling hair care products to be the only company able to provide ads against the hashtag #badhairday.

Hashtags will definitely prove to be as successful for users of Facebook as they have been for other social networks. They are also likely to prove successful for advertisers potentially allowing them real time access to users, creating intent within users and providing higher click through rates. Higher click through rates will in turn almost certainly allow Facebook to charge more per click. Facebook may claim in the future that hashtags allow adverts to be more contextual to users providing a win/win/win situation for Facebook, its user and its advertisers.