Last Wednesday, Facebook started adding a new feature to some of its users accounts — hashtags. The hashtag (#) has been used by other platforms like Twitter for some time, but until now has not been apart of Facebook.
Since Facebook only initially released the use of hashtags to a portion of its audience, the functionality seems to leave a bit to be desired. While it was frustrating for many users who heard about the hashtags and assumed they’d be able to use them immediately, this will likely change as this rollout process seems to follow pretty much everything else Facebook has done in the past. Traditionally, Facebook introduces a new feature to a portion of its users, examines how they use the product, and then continues rolling it out over time. This could be a prelude to more features and a better usability for Facebook. Right now, one of the frustrating things about Graph Search, the technology used to search within Facebook is that users have no way of finding out about which topics their friends are posting or what is trending. Hashtags could be a way to solve this. Facebook hasn’t integrated this capability just yet, but they have said the addition of hashtags is just a first step.
“Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations. We’ll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months, including trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world’s conversations.”
It is likely Facebook will use this new functionality in a revamped version of Notes. This would allow users to write notes and tag them much like on other services enabling their friends and followers to search and click between notes easily. If Facebook decided to go in this direction, it would be powerful not only from a user standpoint, but from a marketing standpoint as well. Marketers and advertisers could further target ads to people who have posted about certain topics, making ads more relevant for users.
What will separate Facebook hashtags from other services like Twitter is its security features. On Facebook users have the ability to select which of their friends can see a particular post. When that post has a hashtag, only the those allowed to see the post will be able to search for and find that post, note, etc…
Do you already use hashtags elsewhere? Are you one of the lucky few selected to get the hashtag feature first? Let us know what you think in the comments below.