Facebook’s Greg Lindley broke in a press release yesterday that Facebook will now allow for hashtags, much like its flickr, tumblr, and twitter brethren. Here’s 5 Fast Facts you need to know about this development for the biggest social network in the world.
1. This Could Change Facebook From Friend-Connector to Friend-Maker.
While FB theoretically lets people meet solely through the online world, it’s rare for that to happen. Usually, you meet someone, and then become FB friends. Therefore, the benefit of using hashtags will be the ability to participate in more large scale discussions which will make strangers becoming friends a more frequent occurrence. Imagine writing a killer status update, hashtagging it, and meeting a ton of people who like your post. Let’s hope that Facebook integrates location filtering and the like. If they do, this could be a powerful way, possibly the most powerful way, to connect with new people with similar interests and preferences for topics of discussion.
2. Facebook is in the Legal Clear; You Can’t Patent a “#”.
There’s a couple of reasons this is true. It’s obvious that you can’t patent or trademark a common symbol. For the same reason that you can’t go and claim that question marks, exclamation points, and @ symbols all belong to you or your company, and then go and sue everyone who has ever communicated virtually anything.
Now, conceptually speaking, hashtagging is just grouping posts with a common word. This is too abstract and ill-defined to be patented. Hence, Facebook is good to go legally, but you might be asking a different question: is this a good move?
3. Experts are Calling it a Smart Choice.
In all seriousness, analyst Dan Olds told Computerworld last week “with Facebook users utilizing hashtags, it will make it easier for the site to track trending topics, which can, in turn, give Facebook more attention from the press and advertisers.” Clearly, this is just a complicated way of saying something very simple: hashtags will make people use Facebook more. Obviously, they track trends already, but they don’t let you track trends; that’s the difference. On a more insightful note, Olds pointed to the fact that the lack of a learning curve made this a virtual no-brainer. After all, if people already know how to do it, and it’s a useful feature, then why not throw it into the mix? It can only boost engagement.
4. People Really Like to Watch TV and Use FB
According to this Christian Science Monitor article, roughly 100 million people get on FB while prime-time television is on. Crazily enough, and the reason for #GameOfThrones in the picture, roughly 1/5 of the people who watched the recent ‘Red Wedding’ episode posted a Facebook mention of it for a total of about a million and a half mentions. The point is this: if you go on FB during the hours of 5-10PMish, you’re going to be inundated with hashtags to shows you may love, and you may hate.
5. Hashtagging Will Integrate With Other Services… and May Just be the Beginning.
So, as you know, many people decide to wantonly share their entire social media presence on Facebook. For instance, your pal might be visiting Hawaii and your feed is flooded with posts from Instagram all hashtagged #aloha. The cool part that Facebook threw in is that you can click #aloha on even an instagram post, and you’ll get to see all the posts on Facebook hashtagged likewise. This might be interesting for certain things and at least it will lend some greater picture to those annoying people who channel all of their social networking into Facebook.
Ok, so if all these crazy facebook changes are scary to you, you better run for twitter. Apparently, this is just the beginning. In a press release Wednesday facebook said:
Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations. 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.
Wow, first the NSA and now this. Truly no one will miss any of all the important things we share on Facebook.