By: Joe M. Xec
Facebook recently introduced hashtags to their social media platform. It’s not at all surprising that the number one social media site is following Twitter’s lead because, according to a globalwebindex.net study, Twitter is one of the fastest growing social networks around the world. Facebook has recognized the lost opportunity, and hashtagging is just another assault in the battle to stay on top.
A way to connect
So what exactly are hashtags? Hashtags are a filter for social media, a means of connecting with other people with similar interests. Hashtags start with the hash sign #, followed by a specific word or topic. Hashtags posted on a public forum can be searched by anyone. They can also be tacked on a message to help direct searches for a particular topic.
For example, Winnipeg hockey fans can add #GoJetsGo to their tweets, while people following the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge might hashtag #RoyalBaby to receive the latest updates about the royal family. Multiple hashtags can be combined in a single post, like #Bombers #GreyCup. The overall effect is aggregating all posts related to that specific topic, so that users can find, engage and easily recognize common interests around the world.
It would seem fair to criticize Facebook for being a “copycat”, but like Twitter and other forms of media, Facebook still needs to keep people’s attention. Adding hashtags within Facebook represents a business opportunity to stay connected and engaged with its current 699 million daily active users. Every time there is a breaking news story or a major event, Twitter is currently the go-to source for real time conversation.
Limited to friends
Arguably, hashtags are becoming the backbone of social media. So far, the difference between the two contenders for first place has been Twitter’s use of hashtags. Facebook has always been a semi-private social site, so for the most part hashtagged posts on Facebook will be limited to the few hundred friends you allow to see it. On Twitter tweets and hashtags are public by default.
What is most interesting about the topic of hashtags is the growing interest within social media sites to uncovering worldwide trends and getting involved in “what the rest of the world is thinking.” Facebook’s bold move to include hashtagging this year is another exciting step for the social media site as they continue to be about #People.
Joe M. Xec is a technology enthuisiast, and does work as a social media consultant.