FB follows Twitter, introduces hashtags

Experts believe that key social networks need to actually make it easier for brands and agencies to run a campaign across all the networks

e4m by Priyanka Nair
Published: Jun 13, 2013 3:03 PM  | 4 min read
FB follows Twitter, introduces hashtags

Facebook recently announced the launch of verified pages and profiles. The new feature lets users find authentic pages of celebrities or other well-known people on the social media website. The feature is already available on Twitter for some time now.

According to Facebook, these authentic pages will have a blue check-mark beside their names on the timeline to help distinguish between original and fan pages. The people who are entitled to this blue check-mark are celebrities, big businesses and prominent personalities like journalists and government officials, who have a large following. According to Facebook officials, this update will be slowly rolled out to all pages, and it will proactively verify authentic profiles.

In a latest development Facebook has announced plans to introduce clickable hashtags for users. The tool is already widely used on Twitter, which helps users to find out what others are discussing. Facebook has already adopted some of the other successful Twitter features, such as lists and Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook and already supports hashtags.

In fact, due to the prevalence of mobile applications such as Instagram or HootSuite, which allow simultaneous posting to multiple networks, Facebook is already filled with hashtags from millions of users. Most users would welcome such a change, particularly if they are already used to using hashtags on Twitter. The problem with such a system on Facebook is that of privacy.

It is understood that anything posted on Twitter is public, but many Facebook users treat that social network as more of a private conversation among friends, even if they haven't actually set up their privacy settings to be truly private. Hashtags, like the recently announced Graph Search, will expose content that users have published publicly, but may have thought was private.

Facebook users have long adopted the hashtag, often using it as an addition to comments and status updates. But they will now be able to click on the hashtagged words as a search term and view a feed of discussions relating to that topic.

According to various media reports, under the plans, users will now be able to search for a specific hashtag from the search bar, click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram and also compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.

exchange4media speaks to digital experts to understand if Facebook’s inspiration from Twitter is a wise move and how brands will benefit from it.

A smart move…
According to Harshil Karia, Co-founder and Online Strategist, FoxyMoron, “Fundamentally, Twitter and Facebook are two different mediums. The features that Facebook has adopted are merely cosmetic in nature like the verified tag for pages and the follow button. Even though it is not injudicious - at the soul of the mediums, the innate core features and the cosmetic features of Facebook are very different from Twitter. Facebook has not stripped the core features of Twitter and adopted them. Such superficial changes will keep happening, and we just need to watch and enjoy the latest developments.”

Boost to convergence…
On the other Prashanth Challapalli, Business Head, Jack in the Box, believes that this adoption of similar nature features will lead to a lot more engagement. “Social channels today are converging to near similar features to ensure maximum penetration and stickiness. For instance Twitter be taking over Vine soon to incorporate video. Finally all this will evolve into a whole new super social platform which is still an idea in someone's head right now,” added Challapalli.

Anil K Nair, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner, Digital Law & Kenneth also has a similar view. “I think this is actually a great move. Take the hashtag, for example. Twitter has it, Instagram has it and now if Facebook introduces it, we can run one campaign across all three platforms with a hashtag and actually track that hashtag. What we need is for the key social networks to actually make it easier for brands and agencies to run a campaign across all the networks. The execution can be different for each network or platform but it actually helps if there are tracking and analytical similarities” said, Nair.

It will be interesting to see how these features will pan out to the various Facebook communities and how eventually Indian brands will use them wisely in the coming days.

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