The hashtag emerged on Twitter shortly after it launched in 2006. Thus, hashtags like #PopeFrancis, #BeyonceBowl, and #firstworldproblems are born.
On Facebook, hashtags have received mixed reviews. Over the years, some users have ridiculed those who add hashtags to posts.
Dave Charest of Constant Contact included hashtags on a list of “25 Things That Make You Look Dumb on Facebook.”
“Umm, hashtags are for Twitter,” Charest wrote. “If you’re just cross-posting from Twitter, that also signals that you don’t care enough about your Facebook fans to create updates just for them.”
The appeal to advertisers, however, seems to have compelled Facebook to embrace hashtags. WSJ says enabling users to search trending topics and similar topics based on hashtags would give users more reason to stay on the social networking site.
WSJ also notes that incorporating hashtags is Facebook’s next step toward advertising dollars. Zuckerberg’s social network has already adopted other aspects of Twitter, such as sharing, searching, disseminating news, and tagging.
But just today Sriram Sankar, an engineering manager on Facebook’s search quality and ranking team, wrote in a post that Facebook is focusing on providing better search for mobile and new content (hat tip to CNET ).
Now that Graph Search has launched, he writes, Facebook is including text processing and ranking in search capabilities, but also “building a completely new vertical to handle searching posts and comments.” Mr. Sankar predicts Graph Search is just on the verge of expanding into a comprehensive search engine.
Digital marketing strategist Ernest Barbaric, says hashtags hint at Facebook’s move toward subject-based networking as opposed to friend-based networking in efforts to satisfy advertisers and shareholders.
While hashtags could be well-received and profitable, the social media site might sacrifice its user experience and brand appeal, Mr. Barbaric says.
While Facebook has retained its leverage as the dominant social network, it has shifted toward incorporating other elements in an attempt to become the hub of the Internet.
The risk is that Facebook could lose its appeal as the dominant social network in its efforts to become master of all, Barbaric says. Many people like separating online resources from social networks to some degree, so the larger implications of Facebook’s reported changes could overwhelm those who prefer to keep Facebook friend-based and other networks subject-based.
Despite any repercussions, however, Facebook could still come out on top in its move toward subject-based networking, Barbaric says. It’s a gamble for the social network.