Facebook Launches Searchable Hashtags Feature


#searchthisZuckerburg. Social media’s ubiquitous hashtags made their Facebook debut – and more tools for following public conversations are expected in the coming weeks. From #NBAfinals to #firstworldproblems, hashtags are poised to make Facebook conversations more interactive and relevant, bringing the most popular feature of Twitter’s micro-blogging service directly to Facebook.

Searchable Facebook Hashtags Organize Public Conversations

A hashtag is a word or phrase prefixed with the “#” symbol. Hashtags are clickable and searchable, and range from current events, like #SandyHook, to memes like #ImSingleBecause. The hashtag first surfaced in 2007, when Twitter user Chris Messina created the tag to organize tweets around a certain subject. Since then, hashtags have become a social media staple. Many Facebook users were already hashtagging posts, even before Facebook introduced full hashtag functionality. Hashtags are already widely used on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+ to tie comments, tweets and posts into current events and memes across different users.

Hashtags are a faster, easier way to browse Facebook. Rather than going to a friend’s profile page or even checking the newsfeed, Facebook users can now click or search for a specific hashtag. Doing so will organize and filter all updates surrounding that specific topic or event. For instance, those still bemoaning the Game of Throne’s “Red Wedding” episode can click the #redwedding hashtag in a friend’s status update to see other posts about the episodes, even those not posted by friends. Hashtags like #redwedding take conversations to a global scale.

Facebook Hashtag Functionality Includes Smartphone App and Other Social Media Services

Facebook users will be able to search for phrases with hashtags from the search bar and compose updates using the tags directly in the corresponding discussion stream. And the hashtag search is not limited to Facebook – users will also be able to see hashtagged tweets and photos from anyone who has linked their Twitter and Instagram accounts to Facebook.

Facebook’s new hashtag functionality will also be available for smartphone app users. Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular smartphone apps. Networks, like 4G from T-Mobile, are designed to help handle the social media app’s data needs.

Facebook Hashtags Respect Current Privacy Settings

In keeping with current privacy settings, Facebook hashtags are only viewable and searchable based on a user’s visibility preference. For example, if current settings limit status updates to “friends only”, then these hashtagged updates will not appear in public search results. If an update is public, however, then adding a hashtag means that the update will now appear in public searches. In essence, Facebook users will still only be able to see comments and status updates that they are authorized to view.

Hashtags Are New Marketing Opportunity for Facebook Advertisers

Social media marketers can now use hashtags to join and drive conversations happening about their business. Twitter has already turned hashtags into a real-time advertising tool — advertisers can sponsor hashtagged phrases to appear at the top of search results or as a “trending topic” on Twitter. While Facebook has yet to announce a specific ad slot for hashtags, the company is promising to build out additional functionality for marketers.


Author: Alexander Fray

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