It isn’t a secret that Facebook usage has been steadily decreasing throughout the past years as Twitter’s popularity continues to increase. Capitalizing on Twitter’s business plan, this month Facebook introduced hashtags, Instagram’s 15-second video clip, and a new ad structure that will eliminate more than half of sponsored ads. While the new ad structure and Instragram videos are good ways to keep up with competition, hashtags on Facebook might not be.
There is no question that hashtags have been immensely successful on Twitter becoming a social media and PR/ advertising staple to create trends and generate buzz. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that other social media sites would want to cash in on this function. Facebook users have been posting status with hashtags for months, despite the face that hashtags were not linked to anything. Now that Facebook has decided to utilize hashtags there are several problems with it.
There is a reason why hashtags have been so successful on Twitter. Twitter has a 140-character count. This means that you can only use 3 or 4 hashtags in a tweet before you run out of space. This draws more attention to those specific hashtags. Facebook, on the other hand, has unlimited space which means #hashtagsfordaysss. Letting users post unlimited hashtags means the power and purpose of the hashtag is lost in a sea of endless characters.
Another problem is that hashtags do not have any privacy settings. This means that anyone can view your hashtags. This is great for businesses that want to gain a larger audience through Facebook. However, this is bad news for people that constantly put hashtags on their personal Facebook accounts just for fun. Not only are new hashtags linked together, but old hashtags people or businesses might have posted are now linked. This means if you hashtagged something you shouldn’t have, you need to go back and delete it.
Hashtags are also not available on mobile devices. This posses a significant problem as mobile technology is increasingly become the communication method of choice. Facebook has always been on the slower end of updating their software to be compatible with mobile technology, unlike Twitter which some people might remember started out as a SMS messaging system before going on the Internet. This means that consumers will not be able to click on the hashtags through their smartphones, and PR/ Marketing teams can’t hashtag on the go.
Finally, there is no clear way of filtering hashtags. Unlike Twitter, Facebook businesses and personal users do not know which hashtags are trending which makes looking for reach slightly more difficult. Now it’s definitely not impossible to find out how many hashtags your business or event got, but you have to go on Twitter or even Yahoo to find out if your hashtag is trending. Even then you don’t know if it was trending on Facebook.
Now there are positives to having hashtags on Facebook. Businesses can now go and search the hashtag they created for a specific event and find how many hashtags they got. Before it was extremely difficult to find buzz about a businesses event on Facebook. However, a set back is that you cannot find out if that hashtag has been used before. Also, with the lack of privacy hashtags have businesses are able to reach out to a larger and potential untapped audience via Facebook. Hashtag specific advertisements are soon to follow which can help businesses advertise even more. This will help replace pesky and sometimes too personal sidebar advertisements.
Most of these problems, aside from the unlimited character space, pose only minor setbacks for Facebook, especially since the hashtag has only been available for a week. These things can be solved with software updates. However, as Facebook becomes more like Twitter the question I have is, what’s the point? If Facebook continues to morph into Twitter, why have two Twitters?
– Niki Perri