Monday, June 17, 2013

#Facebook Unveils Hashtags

Facebook users have been using hashtags for quite some time, although those hashtags essentially did nothing.  While they were cute and/or funny, they did not actually link to #anything.  Users were accustomed to using them on other social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, where the hashtags were actually links that "tagged" their content as part of the larger discussion around particular topics.

For example, last night during the NBA finals, Twitter and Instagram users could use the hashtag #NBAfinals on their posts and their content would be searchable under that hashtag.  Additionally, if users wanted to follow the conversation surrounding the NBA finals, all they had to do was search for #NBAfinals in either platform, and all tweets/Instagram pictures that had that hashtag would appear.  Hashtags are efficient and and organizational tool.

Last week, Facebook unveiled hashtags on their own site.  They must have figured that as long as users were using them, they might as well actually do something, right?  This was an interesting unveiling, as the general consensus was "it's about time," and it was also one of the first times that Facebook has been late to the party.  Facebook has consistently been ahead of the curve in introducing new features, but this time was unveiling the feature as more of a catch-up move.

I believe that releasing the functionality for hashtags was a necessary move, but still see work that needs to be done to make the hashtags more useful.  For example, in Twitter you can see the "trending topics," which helps users to see what the popular hashtags are to use.  With Facebook, you essentially have to search for hashtags that would seem logical, as there is not a trending topics area.  Additionally, Facebook users tend to be much more concerned with privacy than Twitter or Instagram users.  Facebook is claiming that the same privacy rules apply to hashtags as the remainder of our content on the site, but it is still an area of apprehension for many.

So, the question remains.  Will Facebook users jump on board with using hashtags as they do on Twitter and Instagram?  Or will they #remainascrazylongfunnyhashtagsthatdon'tmeananything?  Or #as #short #one #word #hashtags #that #are #pointless #also?  What do you think?

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