#Hashtags are coming to Facebook. What does it all mean? Will cats and dogs start living together in the same room? Will machines take over the world? Probably not. But there will be a ripple effect, and whether it’s a good ripple effect or a bad one completely depends on how you use hashtags. Here are a few things to expect:
1. More Cross Channel Integration
In the past year, while watching your favorite TV show on cable, have you seen something like #votenow or #CassieCheated! show up on the corner of your screen? That is a hashtag integration. They want you to hop online and react to their dramatic plot twist, or participate in their contest. No harm right? Well, sort of. Facebook has a much larger audience than Twitter, to the tune of about 500 million more monthly active users. So, expect to see hashtags on television ALOT more. And expect to see them on billboards also. And digital ads. And on other social sites. And probably on shopping bags and grocery store aisles too.
2. Third Party Application Integration
Thought Farmville updates were annoying before? Just wait until the automated hashtag version of Farmville updates.
3. Real Time Conversations
One edge Twitter has over Facebook is the ability to talk about real time events with other people all around the world. Breaking news, sporting events, and major product releases are among the topics that can unite an industry and connect everyone using one simple little hashtag such as #HurricaneSandy or #LakersVsBlazers. Facebook doesn’t work so well for this. Only your friends can see your updates. So, with the introduction of Facebook hashtags, expect to see more realtime conversations, and possibly a more open form of communication that extends past your friend circle.
4. More Publishing Options
Right now, Facebook has a few different publishing options such as making a post public, only allowing friends to view it, or making it private. Expect to see some more options once hashtags roll out. Things like allowing others who use the hashtag to see your post, or posting to a public news feed on the topic may be possibilities.
#IWantToSeeThePancakesYouHadForBreakfast said #NoManEver
5. Categorization of The News Feed
Zuck’s favorite hobby is altering Facebook’s news feed, which he indulges in about twice a year. Even though they just started rolling out with the the most recent news feed update, I don’t know how Zuck will resist the hashtag news feed temptation. My prediction is a compilation of boxes with trending headlines like #ZombieInvasionForReals and #HappyEaster. Heck, maybe we’ll be able to pick our static favorites and never miss another beat of #GleeTrivia again.
6. More Hashtag Marketing Tools
As a marketer, I ask questions like “What are the most popular hashtags within the real estate vertical?” What tool do I use to answer these questions? Good, old fashioned manual Twitter research, because no good tools exist yet. There are a few, but they aren’t very robust, and their data has a tendency to shift based on what time of day you access it. So, now that every small business owner on Facebook will be Googling “How to use hashtags to promote your business,” I think we can expect an influx of search and research tools. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers for the hashtag version of the Google Keyword Tool.
7. Irate outbursts from web developers and SEO specialists
Pound signs are used in nearly every coding language that exists, each for a different purpose. Text gets crazy if you try to throw an innocent little pound sign in your HTML5 paragraph. And Java is just a total cluster. So, now that every client on planet earth will want their website to be optimized for the term #HahaLolJKproduct, (and not £HahaLolJKproduct) it’s not out of the question to think an HTML5 hashtag attribute may be in the near future.
So what to do?
Jokes aside, hashtags do serve a real purpose. They unite events and conversations, and can take on a real sense of community. I recommend that you research your audience’s hashtag usage, and get a feel for how they feel about them. If the general consensus from your audience is that hashtags are annoying, just don’t use them. If your audience finds real value in participating in conversations, and sharing ideas with like minded people, perhaps there is a strong opportunity for you to bring your community together, and make some meaningful connections.
Serving up daily rants here –> @devan_brown2