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#Welcome! – Facebook Gets Hashtags

#Welcome! – Facebook Gets Hashtags image hashtag1

Facebook is about to get a little more like Twitter, thanks to the introduction of what is now pretty much a ubiquitous piece of modern digital syntax…the hashtag.

Facebook announced the news on their blog today.

The hashtags will be clickable and, like Twitter, searchable.  So, whether you’re loving the new #Superman movie, hating on LeBron James in the #NBAFinals (see below) or just want to better follow (or participate in) a conversation, Facebook has made interacting a little easier.

#Welcome! – Facebook Gets Hashtags image NBAFinal OnFacebook 700x3521

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Facebook pretty much said as much – but more Facebook-y (from the Facebook blog post):

Every day, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to share their thoughts on big moments happening all around them. Whether it’s talking about a favorite television show, cheering on a hometown sports team or engaging with friends during a breaking news event—people on Facebook connect with their friends about what’s taking place all over the world.

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 recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year’s Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.

To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.

To bring these conversations more to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics. As a first step, we are beginning to roll out hashtags on Facebook.”

Why hashtags?  Why now?  As they say in Journalism 101: follow the money.

Will Oremus at Slate and others speculate that hashtags are just a better way for Facebook itself to follow trending conversations online and serve up more timely, more relevant, better targeted ads.

A few things to ponder in the wake of this announcement…

  • How freaked out is Twitter?  It was the medium to follow trending conversations online.  How much of that role will now shift to Facebook?  How much will its ad model be impacted?
  • Is this really all about TV?  Facebook specifically called out TV audiences in its blog post.  Stuff that happens on what is still our ‘primary screens’ (TV) clearly become the most trending topics on our ‘secondary screens’ (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.).
  • Will Facebook now become the medium for the most immediate, clever social advertising?  Think of this year’s famous Oreo’s Super Bowl Twitter ad.  Now think about where that ad could be next year.  Here’s a hint…#Facebook.  Warm up your real-time, snarky, conversation-trending, conversation-bending creatives, Facebook advertisers!  It’s time to get #weird.

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