Facebook has added Twitter-style clickable hashtags, letting users quickly find similar topics and like-minded users across the site, while giving marketers a new channel for their social media ad targeting.
Now, adding the "#" sign to a word in Facebook ill turn it into a clickable link which brings up a feed of what other people are saying about the same topic. Facebook said it offers a "larger view of what's happening".
The move could also boost ad sales, but Facebook does not currently allow advertisers to target people posting a specific hashtag or to sponsor a hashtag - as is the case with Twitter.
But this could change as Facebook looks to tap into "real-time marketing" budgets - money spent on adverts whose timing is determined by live trackable consumer behaviour.
Other services that support hashtags include Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Sina Weibo, LinkedIn and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
Clicking a hashtag will now bring up a chronologically ordered list of comments using the same term, including posts from people and pages they were not friends with and had not liked.
"Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations," it added.
"We'll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months, including trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world's conversations."
Users can still limit who can view their hashtagged posts.
As an example, with Facebook hashtags people can:
• Search for a specific hashtag from your search bar. For example, #fathersday
• Click on hashtags that originate on other services, such as Instagram.
• Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results.
Commenting on the news, Rupert Staines, MD UK and Europe, RadiumOne, said: “The omnipresence of the hashtag continues to grow and Facebook’s savvy decision to adopt and adapt the feature demonstrates the brand’s need to remain current and drive innovation, it’s only surprising that it didn’t jump on this sooner! We have been offering hashtag targeting tools to marketers since the beginning of this year and this has provided extremely positive results for our clients so far.
"The addition of hashtag recognition to Facebook will further bolster our offering and provide even more insight to brands. By targeting consumers based on their genuine real-time interests, highly relevant advertising can be delivered within milliseconds – helping to boost conversions and, ultimately, the effectiveness of online advertising as a whole. Kudos to Facebook for recognising the power of the hashtag and the insight and data it can provide.”