Facebook Joins the #HashtagParty

Better late than never. Last week, Facebook announced the implementation of hashtags into the social network. Facebook is now recognizing the usefulness of hashtags in organizing and discovering content. As with other changes Facebook has implemented in the past, the change is being rolled out to Facebook users over the course of the next few weeks. With Facebook hashtags, you can:

  • Search for a specific hashtag from the search bar
  • Click on hashtags in posts that originate other services, such as Twitter and Instagram (services linked directly to your Facebook account)
  • Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results

 Here, you see a hashtag feed for the #Bruins hashtag at the end of their (winning!) Stanley Cup playoff game tonight:

bruins fb hashtag

I was able to open this by clicking on the hashttag I posted on my Timeline, but I can also pull up a feed from the search bar which allows me to “Say something about #Bruins…”

say something about #Bruins

According to Facebook, Here is what marketers need to know:

  • If you are already using hashtags in an advertising campaign through other channels, you can amplify these campaigns by including your hashtags in Facebook advertising. The same creative best practices on Facebook still apply – compelling copy and photography that is in the brand voice works best.
  • Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook Page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.
  • Like other Facebook marketing tools, hashtags allow you to join and drive the conversations happening about your business. We recommend you search for and view real-time public conversations and test strategies to drive those conversations using hashtags.
  • Hashtags do not impact your distribution or engagement in News Feed on either desktop or mobile. We recommend you continue to focus on your existing campaigns to drive your most important business objectives.

Facebook has long allowed the targeting of ads and promoted posts to people with specific interests by placing a hashtag in front of the word, e.g. #Gardening. The platform will likely create a new ad product from this rollout, but will also gain a wealth of intelligence about topic trends. Although some #hashtag-haters will be annoyed, I think Facebook is smart to capitalize on the behavior that’s already occurring across the social space, and that many other platforms have embraced. What do you think?

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Execs Still Not Capitalizing on the Value of Social Media for Business

A study conducted by The Conference Board and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University reveals that business executives still do not understand the value and potential of social media for business.

Key findings include:

  • While 90% of respondents claim to understand the impact that social media can have on their organization, only 32% of their companies monitor social media to detect risks to their business activities and 14% use metrics from social media to measure corporate performance.
  • Only 24% of senior managers and 8% of directors surveyed receive reports containing summary information and metrics from social media. Approximately half of the companies do not collect this information at all.
  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) use social media for personal purposes, and 63% for business purposes. Of those who use social media, 80% have a LinkedIn account and 68% have a Facebook account, demonstrating that executives and board members are familiar with this medium.
  • Still, only 59% of companies in the survey use social media to interact with customers, 49% to advertise, and 35% to research customers. Approximately 30% use social media to research competitors, research new products and services, or communicate with employees and other stakeholders.

“Companies appreciate the potential that social media can have to transform all aspects of their business: branding, reputation, communication, outreach, and identifying strategic risks,” says Professor David F. Larcker of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and lead author of the study. “They also realize the serious threats that it can pose. They’re just not doing very much about it.”

Two of the top risks cited in the study include “Possible loss of control of product branding,” and “Possible loss of control of corporate reputation”. If companies approach social media correctly, these two “risks” are actually taken under control with the implementation of a corporate branded social presence. Launching a corporate presence ensures that a business can get involved in existing conversations about them and their industry. Being able to answer a consumer question, or provide valuable information can position a company as an expert in the field, and recruit new believers due to their presence and initiative.
Larcker suggests that companies take the following steps to get started with social media strategy:

  1. Assess their current capabilities with social media
  2. Determine how social media fits with their strategy and business model
  3. Map their companies’ key performance indicators and risk factors to information available through social media
  4. Implement a “listening” system to capture social media data and transform it into metrics
  5. Develop formal policies and guidelines for employees, executives, and directors
  6. Consider the legal and behavioral ramifications that could be involved if the company’s board receives summary data about social media

They should also research their target consumer to see which outlets make sense for their brand, as well as which types of content are important to provide to their audience. If a company doesn’t have a designated person (or team!) to spearhead their social initiatives, they should consider investing into it, either by hiring new staff, or outsourcing to a consultant or agency.

Social Marketing During the Election

It seems like we can use a little humor after tonight’s second presidential debate. Yes, I am watching late night TV which will inevitably poke fun at the event for the rest of the week, but that’s not where I’m heading…

During this crucial time in an election year, we’re all bombarded with campaign attack ads via mass media. These messages pick at the opposition, and further confuse voters. But, have you caught any of the fun and entertaining TV spots from big brands capitalizing on the political sentiment this season?

This morning, I received HubSpot’s “8 Clever Ways Brands Are Newsjacking the Election for Marketing,” and I was impressed by the span of industries participating in the political satire – not only via TV, but with integrated digital and social campaigns. Noted in the article:

  1. Pizza Hut: This video drives to “The Pizza Party” Big Dinner Box as its candidate, asking their customers to show support by signing up to receive deals. HubSpot’s article also states offering unlimited pizza for a year or a $15,600 check to anyone who asks the presidential candidates if they prefer pepperoni or sausage during the second debate tonight, which did not happen. According to this article, Pizza Hut took this question off of the table following some bad press about the stunt.
  2. JetBlue: JetBlue Election Protection website, which stems from the overwhelming “I’m leaving the country if…” statements that spur out of negative feelings each election. JetBlue will send winners on vacations to destinations based on popular votes.
  3. PBS (Featuring Big Bird!): The campaign fights back against Mitt Romney‘s statement that he will cut funding to PBS (despite his respect for Big Bird). PBS purchased a promoted tweet on Twitter to appear whenever users searched for  http://valuepbs.org, which strives to educate consumers about PBS’s worth.
  4. Boston Market: “Market Bowl Poll” asks consumers to vote on one of two new dishes, chicken (the left wing) against turkey (the right wing). The video incorporates #marketbowlpoll and drives to http://marketbowlpoll.com/ where consumers can read up on the two “platforms”.
  5. FedEX: you’ve likely seen the “Candidates” TV spot, which jabs at political attack campaigns.
  6. Cabbage Patch: Really? Did you ever think Cabbage Patch would get in on this? Check out their politician dolls: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan, up for auction, from which proceeds benefit Rock the Vote.
  7. 7-Eleven: From HubSpot, “customers choose coffee cups that are either blue for President Obama or red for Mitt Romney, with the votes tallied at the check-out counter. Every day, the results are calculated on the 7-Eleven website.”
  8. Heaven Hill Distilleries: “To capitalize on the election season at the start of the primaries in January, Heaven Hill Distilleries introduced two types of bourbons: Red State Bourbon and Blue State Bourbon. Along with launch of its left wing and right wing bourbons, the distillery also launched two separate Facebook pages in support of each position. And for every Facebook like they receive, Heaven Hill Distilleries is also donating $1 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” HubSpot writes.

What do you think of brands making “light” during this very heavy political time frame? Have you seen any other brands doing a stellar job?

Introduction

My name is Kerry Gallagher, I’m a Social Marketing Consultant with integrated marketing experience in both agency and non profit settings. I enjoy keeping up with trends in social marketing and digital media, and how they work with other forms of advertising. The purpose of this blog is to educate others about the opportunities in this space, and spark conversation. Feel free to reach out to me with questions or let me know what you’re interested in learning more about!