Most of us know the age-old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” So now that the Web is buzzing with predictions on when Facebook will reveal their own version of a hashtag, I can’t help but think of the #copying being done here. Twitter has been successfully using hashtags since 2007, and now, six years later, Facebook is throwing itself into the hashtag game.
It’s obvious why Facebook sees the potential value in adding hashtags to their platform. It will allow users to easily explore trending topics and find common themes with other users — simply by adding the hashtag symbol to a status update (http://allthingsd.com/20130314/facebook-to-introduce-hashtags-and-thats-a-double-edged-sword-for-twitter/?mod=atdtweet).
And it’s pretty clear that hashtags have been the driving force of success on Twitter. They foster communities around events, allow users to explore based on preference, and encourage interaction with like-minded people. Currently, Facebook users are limited to seeing and interacting with the friends and brands that they follow. There is no opportunity for exploration and nowhere to follow the platform’s trending topics. Adding hashtags to Facebook allows for a new kind of discovery and interaction on the platform. The addition of hashtags also prompts users to stay on the social site longer than they have in the past. Instead of just browsing one’s Timeline and then jumping from one friend’s profile to another’s, users can bounce from hashtag to hashtag — all the while increasing discovery and time spent on the platform.
But how will this new Facebook hashtag ecosystem come to life? That is yet to be determined. We can assume hashtags will extend beyond a user’s network. After all, what would be the point of only exploring the friends, family and brands that you already follow? One key benefit of the Twitter hashtag is that it leads you to conversations you may not necessary be following. So how this will work on Facebook with all of their security settings? Will the privacy settings change to incorporate the use of the hashtag? How will users feel about their status updates being public? Only time will tell.
The big question, though, is what does this mean for brands? It translates into more planning, more tracking and more opportunities to spend ad dollars. Brands will finally be able to tap into the trending sentiment on Facebook. They can encourage conversation via hashtags on both Twitter and Facebook. And most importantly, “advertisers could hypothetically ‘promote’ user posts that contain particular hashtags just as they now promote ‘likes’ of their business pages. Such Promoted Posts could get more prominent and longer-lasting placement on Facebook’s News Feed, where non-promoted items are sorted by relevance,” (http://www.wired.com/business/2013/03/facebook-hash-tags/).
Whenever Facebook rolls out their own version of the hashtag — and we know it will be soon — it will be exciting to see them take on the reigning champ, Twitter, in the hashtag battle that is bound to make both social networks strive for gold.
Want to learn more?