TV commercials during the Super Bowl averaged at $3.8 Million dollars for a 30 second spot during last year’s Super Bowl. This year that number should exceed $4 million, and the growing cost isn’t going to stop there. In fact, Forbes even predicts that a $10 Million dollar commercial is possible in the years to come.
So what does this have to do with Facebook or hashtags?
This type of audience isn’t a once-a-year type deal. There is a Super Bowl sized audience using Facebook every single day. Every single day, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook (and other social media sites) to share their thoughts on big moments happening all around them. Whether it’s talking to a friend about Victor Oladipo being drafted 2nd overall last night (by the way, I’m an Orlando Magic fan now), talking about the season premier of Big Brother, or engaging with friends about breaking news – people on Facebook connect with their friends about what’s taking place all over the world.
During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook. Compare this to the roughly 108 million Americans that tuned into Super Bowl XLVII. 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.
To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.
Beginning last week, Facebook began to roll out hashtags to users. (This feature may not be available to you yet, but it will be rolled out to all members over the next couple of months.) 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.
While this provides for an improved user experience for you and I, it also includes substantial implications for marketers and professionals. In the simplest terms, the most beneficial use of hashtags for marketing is the ability to better track campaign conversions and engagement, and this type of data is incredibly important. Brands will now also be able to sponsor and/or organize Facebook chat communities, which they’ve only been able to do via Twitter so far. With a larger audience on Facebook, this opens up more opportunity.
This next feature hasn’t been technically announced yet, but it’s inevitable that Facebook will start showing trending topics and allowing brands to sponsor (pay for) trending hashtags. Once they open up mobile use for hashtags, the ability to track will become even more aggressive as brands will begin to track shoppers in or near their stores.
This is a pretty expected move since users have already started using hashtags on Facebook a while ago (though it really did nothing in terms of technical usage or tracking), and it’s not uncommon for these social media giants to inherit ideas from one another. And although I don’t like many of the moves that Facebook makes in terms of tracking, this one shouldn’t have any negative affects on your privacy as a user and is a pretty smart move by Mr. Zuckerburg.