Social media marketers can easily see the different advantages offered by each of today’s more popular social networks. Facebook has its extensive reach and its Pages offerings. Twitter offers the ability to advertise to users in a real-time format, allowing for a sort of direct conversation between marketer and consumer. Apparently, Facebook saw the potential that a real-time stream offered, as The Wall Street Journal now reports that Facebook is planning to adopt the hashtag, which has always been Twitter’s claim to fame. This will obviously increase the competition between Twitter and Facebook with marketers, and possibly users as well. If Facebook offers what Twitter does, in the same place as users can scroll their News Feeds, will they still be inclined to log in to their Twitter accounts?
Facebook’s reasoning behind their adoption of the hashtag is that they wanted to create a way for users to group conversations and see what others are saying about topics of their own conversations. This is exactly what we see with Twitter’s hashtag platform.
However, it is also clear that Facebook has other reasons behind their testing of hashtags on a social network that seems to be the last to adopt them. One possibility is the potential for easier targeting, as people tag in real-time where they are going or what they are watching on TV, with the ability to join a group of people tagging the same. Hashtags would help in targeting specific people with specific interests, which they would make known through the use of the simple “#” pound sign.
It could also have something to do with Facebook’s new Graph Search. Right now, Graph Search uses data from Likes to determine what users’ interests are. However, it is safe to say that a more reliable method of gaining information about user interest would be through hashtags, as Likes can have several types of motivation behind them. Hashtags are up to the user alone, and true to the users’ interests every time.
If this is the case, then these hashtags are a sort of accidental benefit for advertisers. Without a doubt, advertisers can benefit from a real-time stream platform being added to Facebook, in similar ways that they have benefited from Twitter.
Facebook acquired Instagram relatively recently, and this network has used hashtags from the very beginning. It is possible that seeing the functionality of these hashtags on Instagram, combined with their success on Twitter, that has caused Facebook to consider them so seriously.
No one knows how far along the testing of hashtags on Facebook is as of now, but they are not expected to appear in the immediate future. It will take some time, but when they do arrive, advertisers should be ready to bring marketing methods similar to those they use on Twitter to the fan favorite network.