For years hashtags on Facebook have simply been a nuisance, an unfortunate byproduct of multi-site social sharing apps and even Facebook and Twitter’s own mutual sharing features. These misfit hashtags look out of place, aren’t clickable and have caused polarizing debates online, but a new report in Wall St. Journal last week states that hashtags could be on their way to Facebook, citing a source close to the company.
I believe that Facebook would be a lot better off if they adopted the hashtag to make sorting content more convenient for users, while creating new features for discussion on the network, for the following reasons:
1. Facebook is for yesterday. Twitter is for today.
Put simply, how often do you “Live Facebook” an event? You certainly Live Tweet, you might even Live Blog, but you won’t Live Facebook anything. The reason for this is that a large portion of users see Facebook as a place for memories, a place where you go to reflect on things that were. Incorporating the hashtag could activate more real-time sharing of moments between people.
2. Everyone’s doing it.
Bet you never thought that would be an acceptable statement huh? Well everyone’s jumping off the bridge of hashtags and Facebook would be better served to adopt it for the sake of uniformity. Creating conversations on multiple platforms has never been easier when the hashtag organizes a set of data by keywords like a user expects it to.
As the fragmentation of the web increases, it’s clear that niche communities are spinning up, and people are using wider reaching networks (right now mainly Twitter, but Google+ has a robust hashtag presence as well) to broadcast or distribute their experiences on these niche sites to open up small slices of their personality to their larger network.
Let the Hashtag be the entry point for new conversation. Oh and there’s also an issue with that little site called Instagram…that must be awkward.
3. The News Feed is Broken
It’s no secret that there has been a significant increase in sponsored products in the News Feed, along with a few questionable algorithm changes along the way. Facebook just isn’t the place to see trends anymore. Even the new News Feed attempts to provide top entertainment stories but from a user’s perspective, things like Smart Lists, Groups, and the notification settings that come with those are more effective at obtaining information.
Hashtags on Facebook could help to build a menu of trends that people could use to filter content in the News Feed and Graph Search, something that Twitter is still evolving daily.
In the end the user experience is important, but it has to come down to dollars. Hashtags have given Twitter an explosive revenue model because people have closely integrated it into their other branding channels. Hashtags are now on TV commercials, in TV shows, in print ads and billboards, TV reporters and sports broadcasters have their handles prominently displayed next to their name on-air, with Facebook being relegated to the token web URL at the end. Even Twitter said last month said half of the 52 national TV commercials that aired during the Super Bowl included a hashtag in the ad, and with eMarketer reporting that Twitter is expected to make $249 million this year, versus Facebook’s $851 million in mobile revenue, that gap is closing.
Here’s the question…Do you think Facebook can ever top Twitter’s real-time nature? What do you think about hashtags on Facebook? Let us know below.