#Facebook #Opens the #Hashtag #Floodgates

by: Kathleen Martin

On June 12, 2013 Facebook users were greeted with the ability to incorporate Twitter hashtags into their posts. Thus, the Facebook hashtag floodgates were released. But what is a hashtag? What is the purpose of them? And why is everyone and their mothers using them in their status updates?

It’s been more than a month since Facebook started incorporating hashtags into posts. A few days ago a friend on Facebook posed the question:

“Why am I seeing these #’s everywhere, and what are they used for?”

That got me wondering - how many other people on Facebook do not know about them, and are there people using hashtags but actually do not know what they are used for? So, here’s a breakdown of hashtags and how they work.

Twitter uses what they deem a hashtag (#). Essentially when you place a # before a word it enters the Twitter database and makes it easier for users to find keywords that they search for (You can see why this is a powerful tool for online marketing and advertising). Here’s an example: let’s say you have a tweet about snowboarding along the lines of, “Mt. Bachelor was SICK! The powder was amazing.” If you wanted to increase your tweet’s searchability you could add #’s like so; “#mtbachelor was sick. the #powder was amazing.”

Moving back to Facebook, users can now add these hashtags to all their latest food and pet posts. Just don’t forget the famous #nofilter hashtag on those killer photos. Joking aside, the hashtag craze has fully infiltrated Facebook, which is why some users are left wondering what in the world has happened to their beloved Facebook. The ultimate question now is - are Facebook users using hashtags because it has become a social trend?

In the world of social media marketing, hashtags have been widely used for advertising campaigns for sometime now. Just outside Outlier’s offices there is a painting done by a local artist for a new Target opening in downtown Portland. At the bottom of the painting it says that the inspiration for the painting was sent in by users like YOU. This is a common tactic used for Twitter campaigns. Getting people to tweet responses to a product, or business, in order to drive excitement and involvement. Often companies will reward Twitter activity with the prizes and gifts for selected users.

Twitter and Facebook have millions of users worldwide. For quite a while, both forms of social media have been separate but together. On many websites their small icons are nestled together, like adolescent siblings who can’t stand being together but are forced to do so for the family photo. Now, it seems Facebook has begun to grow up and has a newfound appreciation for its family member. It’s safe to say tweets aren’t going anywhere, and with Facebook jumping on the bandwagon we are getting more and more connected in our online social lives. 

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