ImageAccording to reports, Facebook has a plan to implement one of Twitter’s most usable features: the hashtag. Although the two social networking sites have their basic differences in social approach, local marketing specialists have begun to focus on how the two are becoming more alike. The more alike the two become the more they will compete directly for advertising revenue and users.

The Gist of the Facebook Hashtag

Basically, Facebook would use the hashtag in a very similar fashion to Twitter. A person can include a hashtag with a post, which will then link users to a page, on which posts and discussion pertaining to the hashtag topic would be displayed and grouped. Hashtags will give Facebook the ability to better display trending “live” or real-time events, such as television shows or sporting events. This has potential for Facebook pages for business and advertisers, who can take advantage in the real-time spikes in interest and products and services associated with the events.

Facebook Hashtags May Serve Two Purposes

While a Facebook hashtag would allow both users and advertisers to more readily participate in trending real-time events, the real motives behind the inclusion of hashtags on Facebook may be to legitimize Facebook’s new graph search. Facebook graph search allows users to search topics and return results based on their likes and the likes of their Facebook friends.

The “Like” is seen by many as a flawed system for generating true and usable search results in the Facebook graph search. Many users like things arbitrarily or feel a social obligation to like a cause. It is too easy to like a post, business, or cause, while actually having no real interest in any of it. Because of this human behavior, the results given currently in Facebook’s graph search are oftentimes not a real reflection of a user’s actual feelings on a topic.

Hashtags Show A More Serious Commitment

Users will most likely have the option to “Like” a post or topic, as they always have. With the new hashtag, users could then also add a hashtag to a post or comment. The hashtag would demonstrate more of a commitment by the user to the topic or comment. For example, if a person posts on Facebook, “Justin Bieber Rules!”, people may like the post, because they agree. However, there are also people, who would like the post as a sarcastic expression of their feelings. Whether or not these people really agreed with the statement or not, if you were Facebook friends with all of them and did a Facebook graph search for “musicians my friends like”, the search results would tell you that many of them like Justin Bieber.

If the same person posted, “Justin Bieber Rules!” accompanied by #justinbieberrules, then this is a greater commitment by the person and would tell Facebook that the poster most likely really is a fan of Justin Bieber. When a friend of that person then does a graph search for “musicians my friends like”, the fact that Justin Bieber appears in the results is a more legitimate result.

Facebook is once again exciting local marketing specialists, as they move forward with testing the use of hashtags. Hashtags would allow users to access real-time information and thoughts for live events (like on Twitter), while also allowing Facebook to improve and legitimize its graph search results.

image: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.com