Despite being late to the game, Facebook’s new hashtag feature is definitely going to impact users and brands. With the rollout of an enhanced visual design to highlight news feed content and verified pages for celebrities and organizations over the past few months, Facebook has made a push towards more social engagement, especially with TV. And with the introduction of hashtags, Facebook is continuing that push.
Hashtags will make it easier for ongoing conversations to be at the forefront of Facebook’s UI. Today, when viewers see the # symbol on TV they automatically think Twitter. Facebook wants to change that perception. According to Facebook:
“During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook – roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night. The recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year’s Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.”
These numbers are quite impressive. The problem, however, is that much of this content is private, so it doesn’t reach a broader audience with similar interests the way most content does on Twitter. Integrating the hashtag feature solves that problem. Not only does it offer both users and brands a more effective way of engaging in conversation, but it also gives privacy-conscious individuals a way to opt in to these public conversations. And with plans to roll out even more features to enhance discovery and participation in conversations about shared interests in the coming months, expect to see media partners, broadcasters, and journalists leveraging these new Facebook tools.