How Big Brands Use Hashtags On Facebook, And How You Can, Too

By Guest Writer 

In June, Facebook announced that status updates could include “clickable” hashtags. Users have been sticking hashtags on Facebook posts for years, but since they weren’t clickable, they were sort of insider jokes for their friends and fans. But they’ve been a popular way for users to track conversations and topics on Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus, and, since social networks often steal popular features from competitors, it wasn’t a big surprise to see hashtags make their way to Facebook.

Big brands have been experimenting with hashtags, although we haven’t exactly seen a flood of them. Within one month of being able to post clickable hashtags, more than one-half of the top 100 brands on Facebook had used at least one hashtag in a post, according to analytics company Simply Measured, which recently published data that look at how often some top brands used hashtags on Facebook during those first few weeks.

Here’s what Simply Measured found happened between June 12 and 26, the first two weeks that hashtags were clickable:

  • 56 percent of the top 100 brands on Facebook used hashtags in a post.
  • 38 percent of the top 100 brands on Facebook posted at least two updates with hashtags.
  • 18 percent of the top 100 brands on Facebook posted more than five times using hashtags.
  • 6 percent of the top 100 brands on Facebook posted more than 10 times using hashtags.

Hashtags allow brands to maintain a consistent branding message across multiple platforms. For example, now that Facebook supports them, brands that post a lot of visual content on Instagram or Twitter can make it easy for their followers to see a consistent message across multiple platforms.

The trick is to come up with a hashtag that’s relevant to your brand, but that’s also unique so that your fans can follow along. If you choose a hashtag that’s too generic, such as #TGIF, there will be so many posts that your brand’s message will probably get lost in the clutter. On the other hand, if you choose something too obscure or complicated, no one will bother to use it.

Here’s a look at how a couple of big brands are doing a great job using hashtags for marketing purposes. They just might inspire you:

Hashtags for fun: Starbucks’ #strawsomeboth Starbucks and its many, many fans are posting photos of drinks with creative straw art on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Hashtags to designate a special event: 7-Eleven’s #SlurpeeDancesince some of us just celebrated “Free Slurpee Day” — the day (7/11, of course) that the ubiquitous convenience store gives away icy cold beverages — we thought we’d take a peek at how it used hashtags. As it turns out, 7-Eleven had a ton of fun cross-promoting #SlurpeeDance. Here’s a sample of some of the posts from its Facebook page:

The brand even created a special website with a dance video featuring YouTube star Nathan Barnatt, and then asked users to tag their own photos and videos with the same:

The company also added this banner ad to its website, featuring the hashtag that was ultimately used on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Use hashtags to rally support: Target’s #FeedUSA — Target has teamed up with Feed, a nonprofit with the mission to provide meals for hungry children and families around the world, to market a line of products that range from aprons and reusable bags to clothing. The proceeds of the Target project benefit the domestic arm of the charity, FeedUSA. Here’s a glance at a recent Facebook stream:

And here’s what’s happening on Target’s Twitter page.

Readers: Is anyone having success with hashtags on Facebook? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing.

Jim Belosic is co-founder and CEO of ShortStack, a self-service custom application-design tool used to create apps for Facebook pages, websites, and mobile web browsing. ShortStack provides the tools for small businesses, graphic designers, agencies, and corporations to create apps with contests and forms, fan gates, product lines, and more.

Laptops surrounding hashtag image courtesy of Shutterstock.