Ever since Twitter launched in 2006, it has been seen as one of Facebook’s top social networking competitors. To maintain its position at the top of the social networking empire, Facebook has recently been rolling out a series of new developments aimed at proving its ongoing innovation. Most recently, rumors have been spreading that Facebook might adopt the use of hashtags, first introduced by Twitter, to stay relevant.
Though Facebook has not officially incorporated hashtags into its functionality, many Facebook users are, in fact, already using them on the site. These are often used humorously, but allude to other legitimate topics that are “trending” around the web. While these pseudo-hashtags do not actually link to any promotions or businesses in the way that Twitter hashtags do, the rampant use of them on Facebook suggest that they are already an embedded part of social media language. Thus, by adopting hashtags in an official capacity, Facebook would essentially be meeting the user’s already existing demand for this tool.
In many ways, it is surprising that Facebook has not already jumped on the hashtag bandwagon. After all, one of the benefits of Facebook hashtags is their enhanced marketing ability. In other words, hashtags effectively act as links to other topics, companies, websites, and products. As a now-public company that profits greatly from strategically placed advertisements, Facebook could use these hashtags as incentive for more companies to pay for promotional ads on the site. This would effectively make Facebook a marketing space in which advertisers and consumers work together to promote products.
One potential problem that might be preventing Facebook from implementing hashtags is the possibility that these tags could actually reduce ad revenue. That is, because users themselves would be promoting products and services via hashtags, marketers might actually have to pay for fewer sponsored ads. This possible drawback, however, is largely outweighed by the benefits of Facebook hashtags, which would more likely encourage people to spend more time on Facebook and also result in an increased amount of earned traffic for outside company’s websites.
The rumor that Facebook might be considering hashtags has resulted in mixed responses from consumers and media analysts. Some view this as a copycat move, since it merely assimilates something that Twitter has already made famous. Others view it as just another moneymaking scheme for Mark Zuckerberg. Still others see hashtags as a necessary step for Facebook, noting that if the company wants to keep up in the world of social media, they must find a way to associate itself with this global phenomenon.
Facebook has yet to make an official statement in response to this rumor, but the buzz around the Internet suggests that this is a very real possibility. In any event, whether or not the adoption of hastags will make Facebook more popular or successful still remains to be seen.