If you haven’t heard by now, Facebook announced last week that it will officially support the hashtag tool on its website. This comes after several months of speculation of if and when Facebook will try to corner the real-time market previously controlled by Twitter.
The announcement is no surprise, nor is it a new trend. Facebook has long adopted previously used innovations as tools of their own, from the instant messenger tool to the purchase of Instagram last year. The latest change, though, marks the first time that Facebook has directly incorporated a tool from another social media market, and one that poses a real threat to Twitter.
Facebook is by no means the first social media service to roll out the categorization tool. As of now, a number of social media sites use the hashtag, such as Tumblr, Google Plus, Instagram and Pinterest. None of these sites pose a real threat to Twitter, though, for the sheer reason that they don’t possess the inherent real time market or the numbers that Twitter has. But Facebook does.
What makes the hashtag so successful is its ability to spread news in real-time while also consolidating information into a concise subject and removing the flood of status updates.
“Whether it’s talking about a favorite television show, cheering on a hometown sports team or engaging with friends during a breaking news event, people on Facebook connect with their friends about what’s taking place all over the world,” Facebook product manager Greg Lindley said on Wednesday.
To date, Twitter has roughly 554 million active registered users, or just over half the number of active Facebook users. That means, if executed correctly, Facebook could dominate the real-time news market. This will be no easy task, though. Facebook has long been though of as a private network, whereas Twitter has been touted as a very public one from its inception. Whether this will pose a problem for Facebook’s loyal clientele is to be seen.
Though Facebook hashtags are now clickable, don’t look to use the new feature for advertising. Yet. When Facebook does finally allow businesses to use hashtags for promotional purposes, they will surely see a large uptick in revenue. After all, it has become one of Twitter’s main sources of revenue since its inception in 2009.
Whether or not Facebook will be successful with their new tool is yet to be seen. Like previous Facebook changes, some will love it, many will hate it, but nearly everyone will eventually come to #AcceptIt.