Posted by the HIT board
This Post comes from Melanie Seasons, Community Innovation Director at our sister agency Eulogy! London. Melanie covered the news of Facebook introducing the #hashtag, and how it can benefit brands. This post was originally shared via E!’s blog.
Facebook announced that it will launch a hashtag functionality, allowing users and brands to join in wider conversations and see trending topics around the globe.
Adding the “#” symbol in front of a word or phrase, will turn the text in to a hyperlink and bring up a separate feed of what other users are saying about the same topic.
This will be visible for all Facebook users and brands, even those that are not connected to a user or following a certain brand. There will be an option for users to opt out of the trending activity in the privacy settings, if they do not wish to join wider conversations.
The hashtag was originally launched on micro site, Twitter and is also present on Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn.
Unlike Twitter, the Facebook hashtag will not be available for brands to use as an advertising tool and pay for promoted trends or tweets. This could however, roll out in the future after users and brands become familiar with the new tool.
What are the plus points?
We think this could be a great opportunity for brands to join in natural conversations such as #Father’s Day or #Christmas and have their products seen by new customers. It could also open the doors for people to ‘like’ new brand pages while increasing engagement on statuses as people have a shared interest in the topics being discussed, so are more likely to interact. And from a storytelling point of view (so important for brands), it will hopefully keep users inside Facebook for longer as they explore trending topics and read news articles relating to their shared conversations.
What are the drawbacks?
There are potentially a few. Generally, any changes to Facebook are often met with scepticism. While it’s not a totally alien process, users do not associate the function with the platform. If promoted trends do launch on Facebook in the future, brands could face further criticism on their content appearing in personal news feeds and trending lists.
What do we think?
Criticisms aside, we think this is a great function for Facebook to introduce. Hashtags have become centric to social behaviour. Once the initial launch negativity wears off and users become more familiar with the action, it will be largely accepted and a great opportunity for brands to be seen organically and not hidden outside the main newsfeed.
What’s next? With Facebook finally joining the hashtag club, it can’t be too far away to see an aggregator that measures the volume of hashtags being used on all social platforms at any given time.