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Facebook's #GameChanger for Brands
By: Maryann Fabian
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As a site with a billion devotees around the world, one would think Facebook would be a brand’s dream-come-true for advertising. It hasn’t, but that may soon change. After much speculation, Facebook has decided to allow clickable hashtags on its site. This may be news to some. If you’ve noticed how some people pepper their posts with them...they must’ve thought hashtags existed all along. But now, finally, when you click on a hashtag, you’ll get to see what other people and pages are saying about the same topic.

Facebook estimates that 88 to 100 million Americans use the site during primetime TV-watching hours. Many of these people are “second screen” users. The latest Nielsen survey revealed that 46 percent of smartphone users and 43 percent of tablet users are on their second screens as they watch TV. What are they doing? Looking up information about what they’re watching or commenting on what they’re watching. On its “public conversations” page, Facebook said there were 1.5 million mentions of the “red wedding” episode of Game of Thrones as it was airing. Smart brands (and Facebook is finally one of them) realize the advertising potential here and want to be part of those conversations.

Hashtags represent the ability for brands to not only follow along but reply, interact, and steer the conversation. Start by searching for hashtags related to your brand. You can type a specific hashtag into the search bar (#keyword) and see all of the public posts about that topic — even those that originated on Instagram. This is great research.

Once you understand what hashtags are circulating, you can start liking, sharing, and commenting on posts. You can also promote: As fans are talking about the game, send a reminder message about ordering your pizza now to get it delivered by half-time.

It should be noted that privacy settings still apply. If you share a post on your timeline and specify it just to be seen by friends, only they will be able to see your hashtag. If you make your post public, then anyone who clicks that hashtag can see your post in the feed.

You may also have noticed that Facebook killed off most of its 27 different kinds of advertising products, including the controversial sponsored stories. “Marketers have found that using a page post link ad is a more effective way to drive people to deals on their websites,” a spokesperson blogged. Facebook promises more new features in the coming weeks, "including trending hashtags and deeper insights.”

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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