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Facebook introduces hashtags to capitalise on TV habits

Between 88 and 100 million Americans log in to Facebook every night during prime time TV hours, which represents a significant opportunity for broadcasters, advertisers and our other partners.” Or so said Justin Osofsky, director, platform partnerships and operations at the world’s biggest social network.
According to the story we lifted the quote from- available to read here on the– a single episode of Game of Thrones managed to bag 1.5million Facebook mentions. As such it’s understandable companies selling related products want to tap into that audience to help boost sales, just as it’s logical for Facebook to facilitate this by introducing #hashtags, a long-established way of highlighting keywords on communities like Twitter, allowing people to easily search for related content.
Realistically, at least in our eyes, this has been a long time coming. So long, in fact, we’re surprised at the amount of eyebrows the decision has raised. Of course by deciding to use a tool synonymous with one of their biggest rivals, Facebook bosses are admitting they need to catch up with superior functionality. But that doesn’t change the fact this is a definite improvement in the eyes of anyone who wants to use the network in order to discover, rather than simply communicate with friends and acquaintances. Far from scoff at the change of heart then, we should all welcome it, albeit make a note to use the tool as is appropriate- sparingly.
So in the coming months you can expect to see more and more people ‘categorising’ their posts, although hopefully not too much, especially as a huge amount of users will already be aware of how a #hashtag works, even if they don’t have a Twitter handle (or a profile on any of the other social networks that use such symbols). And this is indicative of why the addition is such a good idea. Like the universal phone charger, it makes sense for social networks to agree on a shared comms manual, such as including @ to direct a statement to a specific user, or the #hashtag to help out with searches. Having to learn a different typed language for each platform would be a bit of a tall order, just as it’s frustrating being able to do something on one, and not another.
Clearly, though, that isn’t the core reason for Facebook adopting the once humble #hashtag. With figures like those borrowed from Osofsky above, allowing users to tag TV show titles, products, brands and phrases, and letting companies buy into those tags with sponsored links and stories, is a seriously lucrative move. By using Facebook to cross reference the likes of a specific audience, or a selection of members therein united in their use of a #hashtag, companies are being given another very powerful commercial proposition, especially when you consider the 1billion or so global members currently using the network in question.

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