For small business owners like myself, there are four major social media sites which require our attention: LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook. Each has a very specific flavor with unique features and purposes. As they continually grow and evolve, we see them each borrowing ideas from one other. The most recent example of this was yesterday when Facebook announced it was adopting the hashtag feature.
What is a hastag? Essentially, a hashtag is a keyword with the pound sign in front of it: #meditation, #singleparent, #iphone. Invented way back in ’07, they began as a way to track conversations around a particular topic on . Hashtags first became popular as they became a central focus of the culture of Twitter. Google Plus incorporated them back in ’11 and they have seeped into many other social media and microblogging sites.
Hashtags serve the following purposes:
1) They allow users to tag a post so it is categorized and can be easily found. For instance you may be a personal finance manager and want to share an article from your website regarding 401K investing so you would use the hashtag #401k in your post when you share it on a social media site.
2) Hashtags are a great way to start a conversation, make an announcement, or provide an update on a news story. News outlets frequently to this and we saw a great example with #sandy.
3) So, whether your business posts content to share or provide information, users can search on hashtags based on their interests and information needed. So if they are looking for information and experts on 401k investing, they would type into search #401k and your post would surface in search results.
Previously, Facebook users did have the ability to track mentions, but now, with the implementation of hashtags, users can follow conversations and tag their posts so they are categorized. With Facebook users having control of their privacy settings for posts, it is unclear how the hashtag feature will work for those who only share posts with those on their friends lists. I have been playing with the feature this morning and since it is brand new, there is very little activity using hashtags to report.
Should I Start Hashtagging Facebook Posts?
As with any social media site, the powers that be do enjoy and will reward you in search results for playing with the bells and whistles they provide. So yes, I would say that you should absolutely start hashtagging your small business Facebook posts. Just remember not to be too spammy. Don’t fill a post with #too #many #hastags. Use one or two that are keywords related directly to your post or the information you are sharing.
Additionally, conduct a few searches on Facebook using your hashtags to see what is starting to surface. Are others sharing information and/or searching for information related to your business? If appropriate you might want to jump in and join the conversation.
As with all updates, hashtagging in Facebook is going to take some time to take root and grow. I’ll stay on top of the trend and keep you posted as it gains popularity.