"During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook -- roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night," wrote Facebook's Greg Lindley in a June 12 blog post. "To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what's happening or what people are talking about. To bring these conversations more to the forefront, we will be rolling out a series of features that surface some of the interesting discussions people are having about public events, people and topics. As a first step, we are beginning to roll out hashtags on Facebook."
The use of hashtags is most closely associated with Twitter. Indeed, the convention was born on Twitter, as chronicled in The Atlantic. Hashtag use has expanded to Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and other social networks (not to mention to the popular consciousness), and Facebook is finally offering support for hashtags, as well.
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"Hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion," said Lindley in his blog post. "When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you'll see a feed of what other people and Pages are saying about that event or topic."
Facebook users will now be able to search for a specific hashtag from their search bar; click on hashtags that originate on other services; and compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results. Facebook notes that users will still be able to control the audience for posts, including posts with hashtags in them.
Facebook's new hashtag support will be good for users, but also good for businesses looking to increase exposure to their brands and more actively engage with customers (and potential customers).
Users will see hashtag support added to their Facebook pages soon, and Facebook has indicated that this is just the first of several conversational updates we can expect to see. If you are new to hashtags, Facebook's Help center offers assistance in getting started.
Will you be making use of Facebook's new hashtag capabilities? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.