Facebook rolling out public conversations, or hashtags, to masses
By Jay Keller
Facebook on Tuesday quietly released the debut of hashtags, or clickable topics and phases that begin with the number sign (#), in what the company calls part of an ongoing effort to bring public conversations to the forefront through a new series of features.
The social networking site says the first step is the roll out of hashtags in a greater effort to better surface some discussions people are having about public events, people, and topics.
“Hashtags are just the first step … ,” Facebook said in a note to users on Tuesday. “We’ll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months, including trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world’s conversations.”
Marketers have been eager for Facebook to bring a “Tweepish” feel to the social network, especially since ,in most cases, the Facebook audience represents a new customer base that might not exist already on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest.
Face it: some people just don’t tweet or pin independently of Facebook.
From a business development perspective, however, this could just be that “thing” everyone has sought that sparks a greater ability to monetize the social network outside of Facebook Ads, a product that’s also getting a makeover as well.
In fact, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s company wants this very much as evidenced by a June 12 statement published on Facebook Studio describing ways marketers can instantly amplify current hashtag advertising campaigns through other channels by including them in Facebook advertising.
The statement offers what “marketers need to know” while making the point that every day on Facebook, more than 4.75 billion pieces of content are shared in conversations are about brands, products, public figures and local businesses.
Hashtags allow Facebook users to add context to a post, or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion, allowing “friends” to click on that hashtag to view a feed of what other people and Pages are saying about that event or topic.
In Facebook’s note to users, the social network touts the benefits to the user without the sales pitch on ROI.
Users they now can search Facebook for a specific hashtag, like #NBAFinals, from the search bar or click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram, for example.
Users are also able to compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results as well.
So, will the leap to theoretically make the social media giant more conversational be a move that benefits the Facebook user?
The answer to that, according to industry analysts and insiders, is that it “all depends on the user.”
Regardless, the move to hashtags will, over time, likely improve how Facebook measures trending topics while offering other insights that open the doors for companies looking to meet specific business objectives.