Yes, #hashtags have officially arrived to Facebook BUT should you be using them on your shopping centre Facebook page? More importantly, how should you use hashtags and why? We’re going to take a look at these three questions in today’s blog post.
Hashtags are used on social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram and now Facebook as a way of categorising status updates, tweets or photos so that they can be found when other users search for these keywords or phrases. To ensure that your status updates or tweets appear in these searches you must prefix your keywords or phrases with the hash symbol. For example, if I wanted to use the keyword retail or sale I would type it as #retail #sale so that my status update or tweet shows up when people search either of those keywords.
One comment I hear regularly from average Facebook users and more commonly from the older demographic, is that they don’t understand the use of hashtags. Some people find it confusing and irritating when they see them on Facebook. Hashtags will inevitably become more acceptable on Facebook as time progresses but for now we need to be careful about where we place them in our status updates and how often we use them. If we don’t consider these things there will be some users who ‘switch off’ or hide our businesses from their newsfeed. Naturally this will depend on your shopping centre demographic and their experience with social media.
The number one reason to use hashtags in your status updates is to expand your audience reach. By adding a hashtag to your status update the keyword becomes clickable within a status update like this:
and searchable in Facebook search:
When you enter the hastag and keyword in Facebook search, everyone who is using that same hashtag will have the opportunity to show up in the search result. Facebook bases results on your friends first (so if they are using the same hashtag they’ll show up first) followed by everything else which is public in chronological order.
You might be thinking “But who uses hashtags to search for things on Facebook? Why would they search Facebook?” The fact that hashtags are clickable on desktop means anyone could click on them if they are curious about the topic or the fact that they are clickable. You will also have savvy social media users who will search Facebook for things they are interested in and topics they want to have conversations around. For example if I was interested in finding out more about my local area I might search #Rockhampton or #CentralQueensland or I might want to see who’s talking about a TV show like #Masterchef. Yes, I could visit the MasterChef Facebook page or participate in comments on their status updates but if I wanted to see my friends who are talking about the topic I could search for the topic and they would show up first in the search results. It’s just another way of interacting with the topics, people and things we care about.
Consider the goal you are trying to achieve by using hashtags in your status update. Who do you want to reach? What would these people be searching? What are they interested in? Here are four examples which might be helpful in assisting you with hashtags for your shopping centre:
|Key Message||Goal||Hashtags you might use in your status update|
|XYZ fashion retailer has up to 30% off||To reach more people who are interested in XYZ retailer or people who are interested in sales.||#XYZRetailer #Sale #Bargain #Discount #Fashion|
|You are inviting customers to a VIP Fashion parade in Centre||To reach more people in your trade area or reach people who are interested in fashion parades||#City #Suburb #FashionParade #Fashion #Style #VIPFashion|
|You are holding a concert by a top 40 artist in Centre||To reach fans of the top 40 artist and people who are interested in Top 40 music. You might also want to attract people from within your trade area because it is a local event.||#ArtistName #Top40Music #Music #City #Suburb|
|You are supporting a local community event and they have a specific hashtag for that event||Capitalise on the event hashtag and reach people interested in the event. Reach the local community to ensure that they are aware of the event||#City #Suburb #EventHashtag|
Hashtags vs ‘Tagging’
I’ve seen some shopping centres using hashtags instead of ‘tagging’ retailer’s official Facebook pages in their status updates. The action of tagging a retailer means that their business name is a clickable link which takes users to the Facebook page. You can do this by adding the @ symbol at the beginning of their name. If you are using the hashtag instead of ‘tagging’ the retailer, you might be missing out on showing up in the ‘Posts by others’ section on their Facebook page AND the retailer misses out on the potential flow on affect of Facebook users visiting the retailer directly from your status update. Pick and choose wisely when you hashtag a retailer vs ‘tagging’ them in a post. If you use their name twice in a status update you might incorporate both options.
Hashtags throughout the status update vs leaving them till last
You can test out using hashtags naturally throughout the text in your status updates or you might choose to leave them until last, just don’t overuse them. Monitor your Facebook Insights on status updates and look for occasions where you receive negative feedback (people unliking or hiding your posts). This feedback should give you an indication as to how your community feels about the use of hashtags on Facebook.
Do you have a hashtag that you use on Twitter and Instagram already? For example if you are running a fashion campaign or relaunch campaign for a development, you might be using the tag line or positioning statement in your communication. This allows users to locate everything about that topic. If you are already using a hashtag you can easily use it on Facebook too, ensure that the hashtags are consistent across all platforms.
Monitor Your Hashtags
If you have a hashtag which you use regularly and you know that your customers do too, search it often to make sure that there are no nasty surprises. The last thing you want to do is find a hashtag about your business with negative comments and you have not had the opportunity to respond. An example might be a customer who is complaining about the cleanliness of your amenities, you can join the public conversation and attempt to resolve any issues.
Now it’s over to you: Will you be using hashtags on your shopping centre Facebook page? What are some of the hashtags you might consider using? Do you think your average Facebook fan will mind it you start using hashtags?
Author: Celina Johnson
• Customised social media set up
• Daily Monitoring of your social media
• Marketing Plans and Strategies
• Experienced in Shopping Centres
• Experienced in Retail
• Experienced in Small Business
• Media trained
• Experienced in stakeholder liaison