If you think of social media hashtags, then there’s only one name that immediately springs to mind and that’s Twitter.
The micro-blogging social media platform is unquestionably the daddy of the hashtag market.
But could that situation be about to change? Could another prominent social media platform be trying to jump on the hashtag bandwagon? Well, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the answer would appear to be yes. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook is looking for a slice of the action. This may seem like a volte face for a company that has always resisted the temptation to dip its toe into this particular water, but things appear to have changed since the social media giant’s acquisition of Instagram.
So what’s the appeal of the hashtag?
Well hashtags can help to subdivide and segment social chatter. What this means is that when users click on individual key terms, they can see every post associated with that particular link and follow the online conversation. The value of this to marketers is that it will provide them with the inspiration to create unique tags for their professional campaigns and allow them to learn more about their target audiences.
Although other platforms use hashtags – platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, Facebook has so far chosen to avoid them. The argument apparently is that avoiding using what is commonplace elsewhere, sets you apart and differentiates you from the competition. However, those sorts of beliefs go out of the window if you can spot an advantage that will give you a competitive edge. What would be the advantage for Facebook? Well, according to the Journal Facebook could leverage the symbol “as a way to group conversations.”
There is understandably some scepticism within the industry about Facebook going down the hashtag route.
Gregg Finn of MarketingLand, told Brafton he thought it unlikely because of Facebook’s advanced privacy features. In his opinion hashtags flourish on platforms like Twitter because users keep their accounts open to the public, allowing these symbols to segment chatter and categorise conversations by subject matter. The Wall Street Journal, however, disagrees. Journalist, Evelyn Rusli wrote in her report:
“Facebook’s work on a hashtag is a sign of the heightening battle between Facebook and Twitter, as both compete for mobile users and fight for advertising dollars. For years, Twitter and Facebook seemed to occupy different poles of the social-media spectrum. While Facebook was the home of close friends and family, Twitter was the real-time broadcasting device for the rest of the world.”
So is the world’s largest and most populous social network about to take the plunge?
Well, there is obvious potential to increase market share for Facebook if it adopts the hashtag, but generally most experts think it is unlikely at the end of the day. According to Brafton’s Social Media Marketing Manager, Kristen Frit, the chances of it happening are slim at best:
“It seems obvious to me that Facebook’schoice to use hashtags is related to the company’s relationship with Instagram. Twitter gave birth to the hashtag, and even though hashtagging is less of a priority through Twitter’s new search capabilities, it just doesn’t seem right for Facebook to try and make it their own. Plus, Facebook isn’t really that great of a search-focused network.”