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Facebook Embraces The #Hashtag

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Log on to check my Facebook Feed and this is what I see:

Day 1: #thisiscool

Day 2: #hashtagsarehere

Day 3: #exam #finals #week #college #spanish #nervous #stressed #be #nice #wish #me #luck #help

Ok, this is going to get annoying…

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#Facebook #Hashtag #FTW?

Twitter’s main tool – the Hashtag (#word) – has officially made its way to Facebook. Don’t get too excited (or depressed); at the moment, it’s only available to a select few users. More and more users will be added over the next few weeks as the famous social media site slowly integrates its population.

For a long time, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest users have been playing with hashtags to trend topics within their social-networking platform. Facebook proclaims that the intent of finally adding hashtags to Facebook is to help people sort through conversations. If you are interested in a topic, you can click a hashtag and find similar people writing about what you like. All users have to do is add a number sign in front of a topic of their interest, and then after they post, click it. This will direct them to a page showing where else the topic is being discussed and who else has a similar interest. The hyperlinks are what makes hashtags really powerful. Facebook recorded that Game of Thrones “received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook” after it aired its “Red Wedding” episode. Over 66.5 million posts occurred about the Oscars. A hashtag could bring all these interactions together and allow viewers to search amongst these topic-oriented posts.

Special Features of Facebook’s Hashtag:

Hashtags from Instagram and other services will also be available.

Users will be able to compose posts directly from a hashtag feed and search results. This should make adding real-time content to specific streams easier than before.

The product manager for hashtags, Greg Lindley, stated that even more features are on their way “including trending hashtags and deeper insights that help people discover more of the world’s conversations.” Want to hear what your friends think about the new superman movie? Type #superman  and click.

Concerns & Warnings

The hashtags will adhere to users’ privacy settings, so those of you who are concerned about your grandparents, teachers, bosses or stalkers viewing your posts, don’t be worried. If an account is only viewable to one’s friends, putting a hashtag in front of a post will still only allow that user’s friends to be able to find it.

Adding the hashtag means that what one says on Facebook will be more widely visible and discoverable. So, Facebook allows you to select who you want to share your Facebook “tweets” with (friends, friends of friends, public etc).

Hashtags used in the past (by those Twitter-loving fans who used hashtags on Facebook before it was acknowledging them) will also become clickable. This means it’s time to review and delete some old posts! Things previously said that you might want hidden, like a drunken status or friend’s hack, will become visible and readily searchable.

It’s also a good time to review your friends list and see who’s actually (and still) in there or to make circles of friends that you can hashtag specifically to.

Watch Out Social Media World

This change will make conversation easier for Facebook users, but it will also help Facebook dominate. Facebook will be able to draw people away from Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram; as users reshare their findings on Facebook from other social media sites, their hashtags will become clickable, linking back to the related conversation on Facebook.

Since hashtags are now going to be on almost all the social media sites, advertisers are sure to target trending topics and user’s hashtag preferences.

And, the big elephant in the room, is Facebook taking Twitter’s driving tool for its own. This puts Twitter and Facebook as direct competitors, and whether Twitter will suffer or thrive is yet to be seen.

Facebook announced in its press release that this was “a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.” If this simple way is going to be nuisance or just one more great way to stay connected, we have yet to find out – but let’s hope for the best. #fingerscrossed