Changing socialization, one hashtag at a time

hashtagThe Facebook is changing again. Hopefully this time around people won’t see much of a difference. The social media giant announced this week that they are adding the coveted hyperlinked hashtag symbol to their arsenal of microblogging.

As we’ve seen on Twitter, Instagram and other sites here and there, hashtagging is a way of grouping topics in an online social medium. It was a long time coming for the change, but pretty much inevitable considering the popularity of hashtagging on Twitter. That and many people were already hashtagging on Facebook anyway.

Now we will see all of our favorite topics grouped together on a larger scale. Also with this new change we could likely see a significant change with online socialization and possibly a stark change with socialization altogether.

A hashtag is the “#” symbol that we’ve seen before. Often called the number sign, or pound, if you will, the terminology of “hashtag” is taking the symbol by storm being what most recognize it by these days.

By adding a simple “#” to the front of any word or phrase, you are instantly connected by a hyperlink to anyone else who used those same words or phrases. Commonly known as trending, it’s also used to spark discussion or promote items, businesses and ideas.

Hashtags are also used to make the meaning of your message standout. Essentially that would be a word or phrase that gives definition to what you are saying, at the end of what you’re saying. Although not necessarily a trending topic, it’s there for context.

It was that context that gave hashtagging its popularity on Facebook. Even though a hashtag virtually had no purpose on Facebook because it’s not hyperlinked, people still used it after posting what they wanted to say to add more emphasis.

Grant it, there were those times when users who would update their Facebook status and tweet at the same time, using the hashtag for Twitter purposes primarily. But when we see a Facebook status that’s more than 140 characters, but the user has decided to hashtag a word at the end, you know it was solely for Facebook. One or two words okay. But it would bug me and become ridiculous when we’d see users who would run multiple word phrases together with a hashtag. But because there was no hyperlink and no purpose, it was hard to read and made the user look stupid. So in comes the change to make Facebook hashtags relevant.

Not for nothin’ but with the amount of people using Facebook versus Twitter, and other places we see hashtags, this could unleash more connectivity among the people of the world. Its definitely going to change Facebook from merely a way of connecting with friends to a way of making new friends.

The popularity of hashtags and Twitter can go hand in hand. But with close to five times as many users on Facebook, hashtagging will explode. All it takes is one cute status update on how awesome the San Francisco 49ers are (that would be #49ers) and instantly I could have millions of other 49er fans see and agree. You will find that even the most obscure things you find of interest could be a shared interest of hundreds of thousands around the world.

We are finding little reason these days to feel alone.

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