Facebook finally introduces hashtags – maybe we’ll all talk a little more

13 Jun 2013

Despite having a user base of more than 1.1bn people who comment and share on every aspect of life as we know it, the world’s biggest social network didn’t have a hashtag function. Until now. Facebook revealed yesterday it has finally launched hashtags to help people organise, amplify, discover and discuss issues.

The new hashtag feature is currently available only to a small percentage of users, as well as Pages on Facebook, but the service will be rolled out more broadly in the coming weeks to help users engage better with the 4.7bn pieces of content shared on the social network every day.

Hashtags are a common feature on services like Twitter and are integral to keeping up with the flow of commentary on subjects that matter to people.

For Facebook users, it will be potentially transformative; shifting the discovery of content from what happens to land in a user’s news feed to actively finding people discussing subjects that matter outside the friends list.

The new service will no doubt be a boon to Facebook’s advertisers, who will no doubt use it to more subtly and shrewdly find ways of inserting their brands into everyday conversations.

But then again, perhaps leery of errant marketing people who may try to take advantage of the service to cut corners or spam users, the social network has reminded marketers that hashtags will not impact their distribution or engagement in news feed on either desktop or mobile. “We recommend you continue to focus on your existing campaigns to drive your most important business objectives.” There.

The good news for users of Twitter and other social networks is any hashtags they use on these platforms that are connected to their Facebook pages will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.

“Hashtags are a first step in surfacing relevant and important public conversations,” Facebook Studio said last night.

“Over time, our goal is to build out additional functionality for marketers, including trending hashtags and new insights, so that you can better understand how hashtags fit into your overall Facebook advertising strategies and drive your business objectives.”

Below: Facebook’s Studios’ example of hashtags in action

facebook hashtag sample

Hashtag image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years