Hashtags on Facebook? PR News Followers Say #notagreatidea

On Tuesday The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook is working toward bringing an iconic feature of an archrival to its own pages: the hashtag.

The hashtag, a word or phrase preceded by the "#" symbol, is a centerpiece of Twitter. It's used to group tweets about a specific event or topic together for easy search, but in the last few years has morphed into a form of creative expression. Some hashtags have reached pop-culture status (read: Charlie Sheen's #winning).

The news that Facebook is now testing a hashtag feature comes as no surprise because Instagram, which Facebook acquired  last year, uses it,  enabling users to group their photos. So, what's the advantage for Facebook  pages? Social pundits say the move is marketing driven, as users who are interested in a particular topic will be able to peruse groups of posts, which will keep them logged into Facebook longer—and see more advertising messages.

For communicators, the ability to group Facebook posts should enable  more insight into key influencers on Facebook, and improve site stickiness.

Since the hashtag is identified with Twitter, PR News did quick polls on both Facebook and Twitter, asking our followers what they thought about the move. Though unscientific, opinion ran about 60% #against, 30% #allforit and 10% #whatsthebigdeal. Here are a few comments:

Melanie Gregg: "The only people who use hashtags on Facebook are the people who have no clue what the hashtag is for. It's absolutely annoying and shows ignorance. I love the concept of the hashtag on Twitter. That's how I find out who is posting about what. With the privacy options on Facebook, the hashtag makes no sense."

Kathleen Cameron: "People are using them anyway, so they might as well be built in."

Miki Pereanu: "Hashtags on Facebook - or what happens when idiots become inspiration for the greater good of marketing."

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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    I don’t think it’s a good idea. The hashtag should be for Twitter only.