Facebook (Finally) Adds Hashtags

facebook hashtagThe moment everyone (okay, not everyone, but a lot of people) have been waiting for has finally come. Facebook has added a feature that has been predicted for months. Yesterday afternoon news broke that Facebook would be adding hashtags, at long last. Now the internet is buzzing with articles, comments, trolls, critics, fans, and everyone in between who want to have their say on what this means for Facebook.

 #Hashtags for Facebook

Yesterday, Suzanne Choney reported for NBC News that the new hashtags on Facebook “should make it easier for users to follow specific topics of conversation on the social network.” That’s certainly the hope, and I don’t doubt that it’s going to give users that luxury.

Apparently Facebook realized that it was missing something from its experience. Any Twitter user could have told them that, and it’s surprising to me that they’ve taken this long to add hashtags. Facebook has always lacked that lively, constantly updating, and easy to follow feeling that comes with Twitter. As Alexei Oreskovic writes for Reuters, quoting Facebook’s blog, “its service lacked a “simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.””

Hashtags are only going to be initially available to about one-fifth of users. In the next few weeks hashtags on Facebook should go global. But what will hashtags mean for businesses and agencies using Facebook for marketing and as a platform to reach consumers? It could mean a whole lot.

Hashtags and You

Unfortunately, businesses, agencies, and any others who use Facebook for marketing or reaching customers won’t be able to do so just yet. As Todd Wasserman reports on Mashable, “Reps from [Facebook] confirmed that hashtags are off limits to marketers right now.” Rest assured though, hashtags will eventually be available to everyone, including marketers. At the same time however, Facebook seems to be “encouraging marketers to use hashtags in advertising.” So it seems clear to me that hashtags will come to marketers soon.

One of the most important reasons hashtags matter for marketing on Facebook is the fact that “cross-posting is finally about to actually make sense instead of look like misplaced code or keyboard mashing” as Molly McHugh writes on Digital Trends. Soon, businesses and agencies will be able to cross-post in confidence knowing that their hashtags will fit into Facebook just as well as they do on Twitter. That means reaching consumers faster and easier.

Additionally, Hashtags will make it easier for marketing campaigns focused on promoting or trending certain hashtags to reach more people. Twitter certainly has a lot of users, but nothing can match Facebook’s one billion plus. The more exposure your hashtags get, the better it is for you and your brand.

Hashtags Should Help Facebook

This change, the latest after many changes to Facebook designed to improve its standing on Wall Street and it’s attractiveness to marketers and advertisers is a good one. I don’t think hashtags will ever be as amazingly effective as they are on Twitter, but the feature will add a great deal of timeliness and flexibility to Facebook that it never had before. Now’s the time to start thinking about how your company or your brand wants to implement hashtags on Facebook before they go live for advertisers and marketers.

What do you think about hashtags on Facebook? How will you use them?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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