Facebook’s adoption of hashtags was pretty inevitable, wasn’t it? Now hashtags aren’t really new. Various sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr have been using them for a long time now. But the popularity that hashtags received courtesy Twitter took the Internet by a storm, bringing about a new online trend and revolutionizing real-time conversations. As was with Twitter, hashtags on Facebook will serve the same basic function they do on every other website. But the question is how effectively can they work?
Hashtags – a quick review
In case you haven’t heard or used hashtags before, here’s a quick recap of this powerful community building tool. Certain keywords, trends, topics, and news items are prefixed with the pound sign to create a hashtag. The power of this tool is its linking feature. Hashtags are hyperlinked to feeds which display an exhaustive list of all the occurrences of the hashtagged word or phrase on the website in question. So clicking on the ‘#contentmarketing’ hashtag on Twitter will take you to a feed where you can find all mentions of the term “content marketing” on Twitter.
Implications of Facebook’s hashtags
At the moment, it does seem to me that Facebook’s hashtags will offer stiff competition to the ones on Twitter. They can potentially steal Twitter’s crown as the number one site for real-time discussions and conversations about events, news pieces, and market trends. The hashtags will also open new areas of business opportunities for content marketers and businesses in general.
1. Increased data mining opportunities
Prior to the rolling out of hashtags, Facebook already had a huge pool of data about its users. The details you provide when signing up for Facebook as well as the likes and check-ins give Facebook a rich opportunity of data mining. With the inclusion of hashtags, Facebook’s data pool just got bigger. Now it not only knows your age, sex, gender, relationships status, the brands you like, music bands you prefer, celebrities you love, and the movies you watch but also what and how you feel about something.
2. Leverage to advertisers
Now that Facebook supports hashtags, advertisers can use a single hashtag across multiple platforms, providing them with an increased ROI. Hashtags will also allow advertisers to measure buyers’ sentiments, engage in open conversations with them, and even direct conversations towards their products and services. Targeting the market profitably will become easier.
3. Building brand awareness and brand image
Hashtags will also help content marketers effectively build up their brand image as sharing content outside their network will become easier. Marketers now have the opportunity to create great content based on trending hashtags and ride on the success of the trending topics. Creating content which is relevant to what is trending at the moment will increase the content’s visibility. A well-informed, well-written content will not only get shared and exposed to the public more, but also bring in new “fans” and “likes” for the business.
If Facebook includes the content data in its insights, the hashtags will be powerful tools for SEO. Marketers will also be able to measure and analyze strategies which got them the highest customer engagement and those which didn’t work so well, helping them fine tune their marketing strategies.
4. Real-time conversations
Real-time conversations and discussions are one area dominated by Twitter and its hashtags. Adoption of hashtags by Facebook will change this scene effectively. Using hashtags, people who are not “friends” or members of the same group will be able to communicate with each other. More news based, events based, and business based conversations will be possible on Facebook, increasing the business opportunities it provides to different brands.
Twitter’s default privacy settings are public, whereas those for Facebook are private. For hashtags to work effectively on Facebook, more and more brands and individuals will have to make their posts public. The sheer popularity and enormous customer base that Facebook enjoys around the globe is enough to beat Twitter provided businesses and consumers make their posts public like Twitter does.