Facebook now allows users to include clickable hashtags in their posts. The decision seems Twitter-inspired, right?
Sort of, but not completely. Though they are using the tags made popular by Twitter, Facebook’s new feature has just as much to do with an old media dinosaur – namely, live television:
During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook – roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night. The recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show. And this year’s Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions, including likes, comments, and posts.
Speaking of the Big Game, recall that Super Bowl Sunday was a big night for Twitter this year – half of the commercials mentioned Twitter in one way or another. Watch almost any live programming and you’ll catch hashtags superimposed on the screen almost as ubiquitously as the logo of the channel you’re watching. All this takes advantage of multi-screen media consumption – the fact that audiences usually mess around on their phones and tablets while zoning out in front of the warming glow of TV.
And if you’re a show, product, or even a politician in a debate you want to own both of those screens. Facebook wants to be a gateway to the buzz – and the sweet, sweet marketing dollars that follow it.