Apparently Facebook is getting jealous on Twitter’s press coverage for involvement in current events and the success of their targeted “sponsored tweets” advertising programme. So much so, that Facebook are rolling out a new feature that is a direct copy of something that has been central to Twitter since the early days – the #hashtag.
Hashtags, when used correctly on Twitter, are a very useful tool when you are looking for tweets about particular events or ideas from people you do not follow. They are a way of casting the net of information to the wider Twitter userbase, rather than just those you follow already, and have been very useful in finding information the ground about events such as the recent protests in Turkey – searching for #ocupygezi, #occupytaksim, and #direngezi bring up a wealth of information and discussions.
So it appears that this move from Facebook is the company looking to further break away from its roots as a place for friends to communicate, and make it more central to cultural and important events. The problem with this, is that people already have somewhere to discuss publicly like this, and that is Twitter. Moreover, most people (and certainly most people with anything interesting/useful to say) have locked down their Facebook accounts with privacy settings, and so any such comments will not be seen by the wider world, just their friends as they are now. May Facebook needs a lesson on how people actually use social media from the likes of Technologia, and they’ll see that people don’t want to use Facebook like that.
The other reason for Facebook to introduce hashtags is so that they can better target adverts to topics people are discussing. Twitter hashtags are the reason that advertisers can react quickly to events and target those interested through the service, with the blackout during this year’s Super Bowl being a great example with brands such as Oreo
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
Facebook wants in on that lucrative targeting, and hashtags makes it much more simple than trying to analyse what people are actually discussing at any moment. The problem here, however, is that there is little reason for people to want to add hashtags to their posts, and it’s pretty unlikely they’ll do it just to help out Zuckerberg & co.