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How Can Pharma Use Facebook’s Clickable Hashtags?

Maria Fogliasso

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Earlier this month, Facebook introduced clickable hashtags. A hashtag is a keyword prefixed with the "#" symbol, and its purpose is to label a topic or filter related conversations. This means that when a Facebook user posts a status update that includes a hashtag, the hashtag becomes clickable and takes the user to a list of all posts with that same hashtag that are set to "public" or posts from your friends that are set to "friends only."

Clickable hashtags have been a staple on Twitter and Instagram, and their popularity in helping people find relevant information caused hashtags to become a recognized standard for categorizing conversations. The general public began using hashtags even on networks that did not provide a way to connect them with similar comments (like Facebook).

Now that hashtags are functional on Facebook, brands, specifically pharmaceutical brands, need to consider how they will use hashtags in their Facebook content. Below is a list of our top three.

Using Hashtags on Facebook

Adding a hashtag to a Facebook post is no different than it is on Twitter or Instagram. It’s accomplished by adding the hash symbol (#) in front of the word or phrase that describes the content of the post, avoiding spaces in between words. Facebook permits up to 101 characters, including the hash symbol. Hashtags provide a way of joining topic-specific conversations.

Pharma marketers that own Facebook Pages will need to determine whether or not they want to include hashtags in their status updates. If so, each community manager will need to create a strategy for how and when to use hashtags. Best practices include:

  • Knowing what hashtags your target community is using
  • Including no more than 2-3 hashtags in each status update
  • Regularly monitoring hashtagged conversations that are important to your brand or disease state

Gaining insight into what hashtags your target community is using can be accomplished by building a filter for social listening and continually monitoring what’s trending. Note that search results will vary from user to user based on their social profile, connections and activity. That is, John Doe will be able to see results from hashtagged status updates that have been published by a) his own friends, b) by Facebook users who have their privacy settings set to "public," and c) Pages. He will still be unable to view hashtagged status updates published by non-friends who have their privacy settings set to "friends only."

Also be sure not to overuse hashtags, as they are not necessary in every post. And while Facebook allows up to 30 hashtags per post, our recommended best practice is to use them sparingly (2-3 per post). The intent is to add meaning and help categorize. The best scenario is when there’s an opportunity to include a keyword that isn’t in the status update messaging.

See more articles regarding the use of social networks, including Facebook, by pharma.

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