Nowadays, you can – and should – be using Facebook for business-related research. Not only can you research your audience and your competitors, but you can also monitor your own business interaction, perception and feedback by using Facebook activity.
You can find posts and photos you or your business are tagged in, search for local competitors or audiences, find posts or Pages containing specific keywords – and now Facebook is working hard to refine its new Hashtag functionality so that it aligns more with Twitter functionality.
Let’s start by seeing what you can do with Facebook’s new Hashtag feature…
Step 1. Facebook Hashtags 101
Facebook hashtags started out as far from Twitter hashtags as you can get. They are evolving all the time, so right now your best bet is to put Twitter out of your mind, move on to Facebook and concentrate on what they can do for your business research.
- Using Hashtags
You can now create hashtags for Facebook and use as tools for tracking your own posts containing them.
You can also use them to track posts that others make, using:
- Your specific hashtags
- Hashtags you are following, tracking or researching
Right now, according to Edgerank Checker, hashtags haven’t caught on firmly enough to positively affect your viral potential or Facebook rank.
But they can be extremely useful in quickly tracking down random Facebook conversations containing them, via your Facebook Graph Search function.
- Searching hashtags
You can search for Facebook hashtags that already exist – and for those that don’t exist.
For example, say you wanted to create the hashtag #facebookcontests: Type it into your Facebook search bar.
- If it already exists and is in use, it will appear like this:
- If the hashtag you type in doesn’t exist, you will see this (and possibly other search results):
If you click on the yellow icon under a non-existent hashtag search result, you will be taken to a page like this, where you will be prompted to create your first post around that hashtag:
How to Find Existing Facebook Hashtags:
Note that you will not see similar hashtag suggestions in search results: You will only see Pages and People suggested, if appropriate.
Right now, in spite of TechCrunch’s recent article there seems to be no searchable database of Facebook hashtags.
However, you can use existing Twitter hashtags for purposes of monitoring and research. You can find the best of these at Hashtags.org.