Facebook announced on Wednesday that it was going to introduce clickable hashtags for users. You will often see hashtags in peoples posts on Facebook, where they are posting the same thing to Facebook and Twitter, outside of that its become part of the vernacular, yes people actually use the word “hashtag” in their speech!
So Facebook are doing what Facebook do well and looking at what their users are doing and rolling out a feature, with users being able to click on the hashtagged words from the search bar and view a feed on that topic. Users will also be able to click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram and compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer, told Mashable that “This is a layer on top of what Facebook is already offering. If marketers are already using hashtags as part of their marketing on other sites, they will be able to use those same hashtags within Facebook and drive engagement within the Facebook environment.”
It seems that Facebook is trying to steal back some of the second screen action that has been pretty much twitter territory. In a post on their Blog Greg Lindley, Facebook product manager said “. “During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook — roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night,”
The company said that hashtags were the first of several new features that will be introduced to highlight discussions about events on Facebook. The company is rolling out hashtags to roughly 20 per cent of its users, with a full global launch expected in the coming weeks.
What does it all mean for you?
Well the introduction of the hashtag on Facebook will change how people use the platform and engage with eachother, content and to a degree brands.
- Brand Mentions – it seems likely that brand mentions will be easier to monitor now, similar to Twitter. Which means you will have more access to data about your brand which adds another layer of metrics and numbers to gauge success. You will also be able to engage in real time conversations, so think about needing to be even more always on.
- Brand Pages – it seems unlikely that Facebook’s move to introduce #’s will threaten brand pages (where brands have spent lots of money) and it seems more likely that it will enhance brand pages. This is a wait and see one I think.
- User Generated content – If someone posts a picture of themselves wearing/using a new product and uses the brand hashtag, depending on your legal guidelines that could be a photo your page could use. Facebook and users love images so this will be a way to help generate more image content for brands.
- Privacy – Facebook will maintain their privacy settings regarding hashtags, and won’t allow users to show up in click-throughs of the hashtag if their settings are set to be shared only with friends
- Not for mobile – sadly, mobile will be a hashtag free zone as the app doesn’t support the phrase. Hashtags can be used, but there will be no click through to the hashtag feed.
- Facebook hashtag ads – Facebook say they aren’t offering this yet, but they will.
- Don’t Hashtag vomit – when brands were getting used to Facebook I coined the phrase “Facebook Vomit” to describe how they just spewed on their walls. We have to hope brands don’t start hashtag vomiting now, so if you are a brand owner reading this – please don’t!