“[Twitter bird logo] #brand” just became an endangered species. Hashtags are becoming universal as Facebook will start supporting them. That neutralizes an important growth vector for Twitter. Before, each print or tv ad mentioning a hashtag nagged people to join Twitter. Now they can join the real-time conversation through the social network they already use.
Businesses and events want their social mentions to achieve maximum reach, so advertising a “Twitter hashtag” doesn’t make much sense when they could promote a universal hashtag. I expect we’ll either see the Twitter logo drop off before displayed hashtags, or the Facebook logo added.
Whether hashtags get popular on Facebook remains to be seen. Subscribe, its Twitter-style asymmetrical following feature for celebrities and journalists, hasn’t quite become a hit. And hashtags will be posed with the challenge that much of what’s posted on Facebook is only shared with friends, not the public.
Facebook hashtags have one thing going for them. For really popular events, I might not care what strangers are posting about on a Twitter hashtag. But when you click on or search a Facebook hashtag, it may find a way to prioritize surfacing what your friends are saying. Personally, I’d care more to see what my buddies and acquaintances said about the Game Of Thrones #redwedding than have those truly social mentions drowned out by millions by people I’ve never met.
Facebook hashtags may flop and even with a little traction, Twitter will likely remain the king of real-time conversation. But today’s news could reduce the unique value-add of Twitter. It’s part of Facebook’s on-going “good enough” strategy to box out competitors. Someone else might do it better, but Facebook does it at scale on a network people don’t have to start on anew.