July 1, 2013

7 ways nonprofits can benefit from Facebook hashtags

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Photo courtesy of joe0153 (Creative Commons)

Creating and leveraging the power of hashtags

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, associations, social enterprises, small businesses, Facebook administrators.

John HaydonBy now you may or may not have heard that Facebook hashtags have been rolled out to many users.

These hashtags link conversations together like they do on Twitter or Instagram, enabling your community to go deeper into a specific topic.

How to create a Facebook hashtag

A hashtag is simple a tag that links together all content that includes the hashtag. Creating a Facebook hashtag is as simple as typing a “#” in front of any word or phrase (no spaces).

For example, a breast cancer organization might use #breastcancer to link together topical posts. (Capitalization doesn’t matter.)

Hashtags that are created elsewhere but posted to your Facebook page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.

How nonprofits can benefit from Facebook hashtags

So how should you start using hashtags? Here are seven tips to help you begin using hashtags.

1Listen first. Search Facebook for #hashtags related to your cause (as shown below). In addition to understanding how people are talking about that topic, you’ll discover which hashtags are used the most and who is using these hashtags.

#BreastCancer

2Create a hashtag for your organization. Creating a hashtag for your nonprofit allows you to easily kick-start new conversations and join existing conversations on Facebook.

3Extend your current campaign. If you are currently using hashtags in a campaign on Twitter or Instagram, start including those hashtags in your Facebook content. This makes it easier to integrate all your social channels as one.

4Piggyback on trends.Once you discover a popular # that’s related to your cause, use it in your updates. This will enable you to create more exposure for your posts when other Facebook users search through these hashtags.

For example, the Best Friends Animal Society can use #BestFriends to be seen among the thousands of updates using this hashtag.

5Apply hashtag glue. Use hashtags around specific topics so that your community can easily aggregate those conversations with a single mouse click. This would be especially useful for an awareness campaign, or to help an existing community connect with each other in a new way.

6Use sparingly. On Twitter, hashtags can be quite annoying if they are overused. Be selective about the hashtags you use in your page posts, sticking to the ones your community uses the most.

7Facebook ads. Like other pieces of data provided by users, Facebook will eventually let marketers target hashtags in the near future. This will give you the ability to promote a campaign to users who have been actively using specific hashtags.

Remember: Hashtags will not make you awesome. Keep in mind that Facebook hashtags are just another shiny object. They will not save your organization if you lack solid goals, a smart strategy, and a measurement plan.

So start there.

Are you using Facebook hashtags? Share your experience with us below!

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John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then connect up: Contact John by email, see his profile page, visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment.

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