Facebook has officially announced and deployed hashtags into the news feed. Many Page Admins are interested to see how hashtags will impact their brand’s news feed strategies. Facebook announced Insights for hashtags, although none were shown or released. It’s unclear how thorough these Insights will be. However, it should be noted that we’ve heard rumors of a whole new set of Insights coming soon. We’re interested to see if hashtag metrics are included in this new rollout.
Typically we’re a bit skeptical of any new feature that Facebook rolls out for the general public and its bottom line impact for businesses. However, hashtags were already well used within Twitter and used but unlinked in Facebook. We expect the addition of hashtags will have better traction than other previous changes for users.
How Are Posts Ranked When Clicking A Hashtag?
EdgeRank is already at play when determining which hashtagged posts are being displayed when clicking a hashtag. The posts are not in chronological order, which provides evidence towards the ranking algorithm EdgeRank. Using EdgeRank makes sense here due to the fact that we’re dealing with posts that have varying levels of Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay for each user encountering one.
Brands can quickly leverage hashtags by hashtagging any applicable topics, categories, or things that are related to the post. By using a hashtag, a post should automatically gain a higher probability of increased Reach. The post is now linked with a wide variety of other posts that may be viewed. For brands like Nike, tagging a post with #basketball could provide additional Reach due to overlap with users naturally talking and hashtagging #basketball.
Potential Impacts on EdgeRank
We expect that brands who use hashtags will have slightly larger Reach than posts without hashtags. We also expect Facebook to track user’s clicking behavior and potentially tie Affinity into particular hashtags.
In the short term, we don’t expect Facebook to make any elaborate EdgeRank changes as it relates to hashtags. We do expect that when clicking into hashtags, they may play around with the EdgeRank algorithm to deliver the best trending posts associated with the currently clicked hashtag.
Nike creates a post with a #basketball hashtag. Chad Wittman has clicked multiple times on #basketball in other posts from friends, family, and brands. Facebook could tie in Affinity between users and hashtags to give this particular post a bit more EdgeRank value, therefore increasing it’s probability of being displayed within Chad’s news feed.
We wouldn’t be talking about a new Facebook change without mentioning how it affects a brand’s bottom line. Hashtagging opens up a plethora of new input signals to sell advertisements to. Brands will inevitably be able to advertise to users who have used, or perhaps even clicked, the hashtag.
We also expect the opportunity to highlight your brand’s post in the top of a clicked hashtag. Currently this space is not designed or styled any differently than when users click on people who’ve Shared content. In our opinion, this is a missed opportunity. This space has immense opportunity to provide an experience when clicking into. Hashtags are active objects radiating within Facebook’s Open Graph, they should not be limited to a simple display.
What Should You Do?
We recommend, if applicable, to use one or two hashtags that relate to the content of your post. We do not expect the results for posts with hashtags will be dramatically improved, but we do expect a slight increase in Reach for posts that include applicable hashtags.
In PostAcumen (our competitive analysis tool), we’ve included the ability to monitor active hashtags in Monocle. We recommend Page Admins to quick check Monocle before publishing content into the news feed to get a real-time “lay of the land” and perhaps jump on popular hashtags. Our hashtag analysis will expand, as Facebook offers more data for us to analyze.