Last week at #BigBoulder conference, there was a session about “Measuring Impact on Facebook“. The very first question from the audience was: can you talk about hashtags in Facebook? The answer was a simple “No.” Now we know!

So what will change in the world of social analytics with clickable and searchable hashtags on Facebook? Here are a few thoughts that come to mind.

First, social desperately needs standards and consistent use of hashtags is a good step towards achieving this goal. The last few years have been characterized by somewhat chaotic growth and each of the big social network has tried to chart the course independently, sometimes adding confusion and uncertainty. Now we are starting to see these social networks move towards a common ground.

Similar to other services like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest, hashtags on Facebook allow you to add context to a post or indicate that it is part of a larger discussion. When you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you’ll see a feed of what other people and Pages are saying about that event or topic.

Based on the data that we’ve been collecting, the use of hashtags has been on the rise because it is a great mechanism for earned media. Many of the social media campaigns, promotions and events revolve around cleverly created hashtags. The right hashtag allows brands to express their creativity, makes it easy for users to share it with others.

From a social listening and analytics perspective, this is great news. We believe that this will improve social listening relevancy, volume and ultimately will result in better quality of analytics (trending insights, impressions, engagement, discovery). The key is for Facebook to give due attention to its search and analytics APIs to provide the public level information around the use of hashtags, while ensuring that all privacy settings are respected.

As mentioned in the Facebook session in Big Boulder, measurement and ROI is a huge challenge for everyone who is spending on social – and its our hope that hashtags on #Facebook will get us one step closer to this goal.

We are ready to get started – are you?

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