Tarra Matthews Content Editor
Hashtags, those obnoxious no space phrases starting with ‘#’ that so many people on Twitter use. They started out as a way for people to track specific phrases and trends in the beginning of Twitter but now they seem to have turned into a hipster add on to tweets or a snarky way to add commentary. And then there were those people who decided to start using them outside of Twitter for whatever reason; no they did not link their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts together.
But now those hashtags on Facebook may have a purpose. The powers that be at Facebook are toying with the idea of using the hashtags to group conversations on a specific topic, much like what is seen on Twitter with television shows, movies and even event specific tags. Sources are saying that Facebook hashtags are in the testing phase at the moment but aren’t imminently going to be introduced to the wide user population.
So what exactly is Zuckerberg seeking to accomplish by letting people use hashtags in their posts and status updates? Besides allowing ‘trending topics’ and popular conversations to have a common place to be archived, the hope is that Facebook users will spend more time on the site, scroll through these chats and ultimately, see more ads, because in the end it all comes down to advertising dollars. It’s no secret that people are leaving Facebook in huge numbers, and those who are sticking with the former social media heavyweight are spending less and less time on it. So any way that the Facebook executives can hook people into sticking around for longer, the better.
The move to hashtags is all part of the Facebook evolution. Mark Zuckerberg has stated in interviews that he wants Facebook to become a “personalized newspaper” for users; the same end goal as Twitter. Hence the introductions of features like the new newsfeed design, the ability to subscribe to users and the graph search. But Facebook is currently still advertise revenue victorious, pulling in $4.3 Billion USD last year, 4 times higher than Twitter’s revenue.
But Twitter is closing the gap. By allowing advertisers to ‘pay to trend’ or have their trend promoted within a users timeline it introduces their brand to a wider audience and hashtags that are unique or compelling drive people to click on them to further investigate. Obviously Facebook can copy this model as well, much like you can pay to promote a page or post on Facebook currently, a company could do they same with their specific hashtag.
So what do you think about Facebook copying the Twitter hashtag model? And who do you think will ultimately win the social media ‘war’ between Twitter and Facebook?
A version of this article also appears here