Upon clicking on a Facebook hashtag, users will see a box that
layers above the Facebook page they're currently on and casts it
into shadow. In the box, they'll see the people and pages in their
network that have used the hashtag in chronological order. They can
also see mentions from people outside their network whose Facebook
pages are public, but the focus is on people or brands that users
have chosen to connect to.
It remains to be seen what Facebook will do to spur adoption of
hashtags, but cross-posting from other networks will provide some
viral hooks. For example, hashtags in tweets that people also set
to publish on Facebook will open a Facebook hashtag page when
someone else in the social network clicks on it.
Ultimately, Facebook wants to be thought of as the second screen
as much as Twitter is. It has data to support that contention;
there are between 88 and 100 million Americans using Facebook every
night during prime time hours. And the "Red Wedding" episode of
"Game of Thrones" earlier this month had 1.5 million mentions,
according to a Facebook blog post.
However, the tricky part for Facebook is the lack of visibility
into its data. While millions of people may be talking about "Game
of Thrones" or the Oscars on Facebook, a relatively small
percentage of them are doing so publicly, which is why business
intelligence startups that focus on making social data actionable
for marketers focus on Twitter and its rich deluge of public data.
In light of that, another potential revenue stream from hashtags is
an analytics product that would shed light on how hashtags are
trending in short time increments across the network.
It's also possible that Facebook's foray into hashtags could
provide a useful signal for its "graph search" product introduced in January,
which is reliant on the "like" as an expression of interest. Likes
are flawed signals, since users sometimes click on them arbitrarily
or to satisfy a social obligation. But posting with a hashtag could
be seen as a more tangible expression of affinity and could thus
help to make graph search into a useful product.
In typical Facebook fashion, hashtags will first roll to a small
percentage of the Facebook network so that the engineering team can
evaluate how they're working before making them available to the