The latest rumored change in the Facebook model is hashtags. The company hasn’t confirmed it yet, but most observers expect a hashtag option nearly identical to the one we all overuse so often on Twitter to launch in the near future. Marketers and PR pros are pretty excited about the potential change, and we spoke to Stacey Acevero, social media manager at Vocus, to figure out why.
While Acevero hesitates to call what may or may not happen a “social network war”, it’s pretty clear that Facebook is looking for new ways to make bank — and that its redesign could make the whole experience less frustrating for brands and social managers. Here’s her take on the three possible benefits of the Facebook hashtag function:
1. Makes all of Facebook more searchable: Not only would it make your brand’s own original content easier to find for users who don’t “like” the brand, it would also make the act of conducting market research on Facebook by subject or keyword a whole lot easier.
2. Expands the reach and power of a marketer/social media manager: Building on the first point, a “trending hashtags” option would increase a manager’s ability to see what people are liking and discussing on Facebook — and tailor original content to ride on these trends. It’s a crucial part of the Twitter experience, as we all know.
3. Increases viewership and value of original content: The visibility of branded content has been decreasing even as Facebook encourages more companies to purchase “sponsored” posts. But by using strategic hashtags, branded content could attract a whole lot more eyes without paying for the privilege.
The real difference: a hashtag-enabled Facebook could reward organic, creative marketing rather than running on the current “pay to play” model. The combination of graph search and hashtags could also help convince brands and businesses that they’re not throwing their time and money away by developing original content.
Acevero calls it “a game changer” that could “breathe new life” into a service that has increasingly shown “diminishing returns” for marketers, PR pros and brands at large.
What do we think? Do we want Facebook to develop hashtags?