Hashtag Comes to Facebook!

One of the most popular features on Twitter – the hashtag, is now on Facebook. Although Facebook and Twitter are bitter rivals, it hasn’t stopped Facebook from capitalizing on the popularity of the hashtag. Facebook is not the only website to adopt the hashtag. A few months back, popular image sharing website – Pinterest, made the hashtag official on its website. Now Pinterest users can use hashtags to categorize and optimize their pins or images better on the website. Hashtags also allow people to find images much more efficiently on Pinterest.

Last week, Facebook announced that hashtags will be functional on the largest social networking website on the planet. Now the hashtag on Facebook has the same functions as it does on Twitter. Since last Wednesday – June 12, 2013, Facebook users have been able to use the hashtag (#) in posts allowing similar Facebook content to be grouped together and to be found more easily. The hashtags also allow trending topics to be identified more easily on Facebook.

Facebook hashtag features

The Facebook hashtag is slightly different from the one on Twitter as Facebook users can make their hashtag private or public. Users can select the audience for their hashtags and thereby control who can see their hashtags. However, trending hashtags have not been launched on Facebook yet and the company promises to unveil this feature in a couple of months. Also, the hashtag has not been rolled out to all Facebook users and it isn’t functional on mobile platforms.

The company has been testing hashtags on Facebook since the beginning of this year and has finally launched the feature to the masses. Facebook users have been using hashtags for a long time in posts although they have been redundant all this while. Instagram adopted the hashtag a while back and it has seen a lot of success on this platform. The success of hashtags on Instagram may have urged parent company – Facebook, to adopt it in their social networking site.

Why Facebook needs hashtags

Facebook is looking to capitalize more on breaking news items like Twitter. Facebook has always been a website to find and meet other people whereas Twitter has always been used more for broadcasting messages. This has allowed Twitter to gain an advantage during major events like the Super Bowl, Olympics, special episodes of serials etc. Tweets about such events almost always go viral and ad dollars pour into Twitter’s coffers.

One of the main reasons why Facebook has adopted the hashtag is to capture second- screen audiences. People often use their mobile phones, laptops and computers as second-screen devices when watching programs on television. This means that people use other devices to connect with other people and brands and find information about programs that they watch on television.

Twitter has always been able to capture second-screen audiences by allowing advertisers to promote tweets with specific hashtags. These hashtags can be shown on TV and people can log onto Twitter to find content about their favorite programs and events using the hashtag. With the help of specific hashtags, advertisers have always been able to attract a large number or people to their campaigns.

This is where Facebook has been losing ad dollars to Twitter. According to official estimates from Facebook, during primetime program hours, about 100 million users use Facebook to discuss their favorite TV programs but they have no way to find similar content and other users. With hashtags, Facebook users will be able to find relevant content much more easily and the social media giant can attract even more ad dollars by promoting hashtags.