If you are of a "certain age," you may have called the # symbol on your keyboard the "number" or "pound" sign. The mark itself originated in the mid 1800s and comes from the Latin word libra (lb) which is the Roman unit of weight. Accountants and bookkeepers have been using the symbol since the late 1800s. Voicemail systems began using it as an option in the 1980s.
Today, this waffle-shaped symbol often refers to a search tool known as the hashtag. Its technical term is actually octothorpe; however, by 1961, it had morphed to hash in the computing and telecommunication industries. In June of 2014, the word hashtag was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Now that we've satisfied the trivia nerd in all of us, let's talk about why it's important to use hashtags in your social media posts, especially on Facebook.
Think of hashtags as the Dewey Decimal system of social media. Hashtags are used to organize content into specific themes or topics. When people search using a specific hashtag, it's because they are extremely interested in that topic (or product, or service) and are looking for more information. So, when you put a hashtag in front of a word or phrase on Facebook, you're making it easier for those who are interested in that topic to find what your business page has posted about it.
I added hashtags to the content of this testimonial post so that other Facebook users who were searching for information on Ayurveda could find Leelah and reach out. Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine which originated in India. And, while Leelah is a newcomer to social media, she has vast experience as an Ayurvedic counselor.
The testimonial itself lends credibility to Leelah and her experience as a transformational healer. The hashtags added to the end of the post add an additional measure of searchability.
You don't always have to include hashtags within the content of your post. Adding them at the end is perfectly acceptable and, as some would argue, makes the post more readable.
This particular client offers pet CPR and first aid classes all over the country. In addition to promoting their upcoming class schedule on Facebook, posts which educate pet parents on how to prevent emergencies establish them as an industry leader and provide value to their community. Including hashtags about pet CPR at the end of this post makes their class offerings easier to find.
How do you know which hashtags to use in your posts? Do the research. Make a list of your products, services or important topics. Then, use the search bar in Facebook and Instagram to see how many people are already using those hashtags. (Example: search for #petfirstaid or #Aryuveda) Resist the urge to post hashtags which aren't being widely used. It's perfectly acceptable; however, to create a brand hashtag to use in every post.
Twitter and Instagram have been using hashtags for years while Facebook has just embraced the tool. If you haven't been utilizing hashtags in your Facebook posts, now is the time. The benefits of having your business page searchable across this platform's 2.6 billion users far outweigh the additional amount of time it takes to correctly incorporate them into your organic posts.