Facebook Hashtags. Wait, what?

That’s right: According to sources, Hashtags are coming to Facebook.

YEAH?

AND?

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? 

I’ll tell you –

1. Ownership
Let’s get one thing clear: Hashtags are not owned by Twitter. They’re used heavily throughout the platform, of course they are, they help track conversation topics. In fact, Twitter is so entrenched in the hashtag that they’ve now taken to describing themselves as ‘The shortest distance between you and what interests you’.

The ‘you’ in that equation is the @name. The ‘what interests you’ part of it? The hashtag. Hashtags really are great for connecting users to the information that they’re looking (on Twitter at least). You know what else they’re good for?  Ad sales. But we’ll come back to that one…

Hashtags are used across other (mostly lesser known) social networks but when your average consumer sees them today, it’s fair to say they immediately associate them with Twitter.

Not for much longer.

Ps. Y’know where else Hashtags are used? Instagram. And you remember who owns Instagram, right? Right. 

2. Graph Search
With the advent of Facebook Graph Search, Facebook really needs to start to getting to grips with meaningful conversation data. What do I mean by that? On a panel recently about Facebook’s latest search product, one of the issues that we discussed was the potentially huge disparity between the two elements of data that will be mined via Graph Search; behavioural and surrendered.

I might Like something, but that might just be to gain access to an app or a game or whatever. That’s behavioural and that’s sketchy at best. Surrendered is even worse; Facebook is trusting its users to enter their personal information fully and honestly – this simply does not happen.  These two issues combined do not an accurate search engine make.

However.

Using hashtags to badge up Facebook posts suddenly creates anchors within user conversations. First, these anchors are searchable and second, you can sell ads against them.

‘Oh hey Twitter, nice ad model you got there. We’ll take it. ‘

You get the idea.

3. Discovery  
Last month, Dan Rose, VP of Partnerships at Facebook, made it very clear that television and the second screen was definitely an area that Facebook was going to move in to. Perhaps not immediately, but soon.

Being able to tag your Facebook post against say, the TV show that you’re watching? That’ll be one major step towards that paradigm.

Earlier this week I wrote about what Twitter’s new Ad API meant for social media ad-planning. With Facebook now introducing (their own version of?) the hashtag, this same model applies: choose your TV show, pick your audience, choose your time slot, go buy ads…

OK, so obviously this won’t happen overnight; Facebook has a billion users and it needs to shepherd them in slowly, v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y…

But with the new News Feed inbound, Facebook hashtags (and their ads) could soon be just but a click away…

 

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