Facebook’s move to introduce clickable hashtags (finally) has delighted users, but it could also open up ways for salons to reach greater audiences than just their immediate fanbase, says digital marketing specialist Valorie Reavis of Linkup Marketing. Using a hashtag in salon page post will add it to a wider conversation that is searchable, even by those unconnected on Facebook.

The site announced on the 12th of June that it was introducing hashtags, similar to Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, allowing users to add context to posts or make them part of a larger discussion. The symbol was first used by Twitter users as a way of categorizing messages and now tweets with a hashtag garner twice as much engagement as those without.

But including the hashtag is just the first in a roll-out of features that will help people find what’s being said about a particular topic on Facebook and join in the conversation. More importantly, according to Valorie, it could open an active salon’s Facebook page to a larger, previously unknown audience.

‘Facebook has always been about permissible friendships; fans had to like your page before you could talk to them,’ explained Valorie, who is also the brainchild behind salon social network management system The Shout Lounge. ‘But with the hashtag, salons can join a conversation on any subject trending, such as #celebombre or #hair2heart and their post could be seen by others following the same trend.’

Facebook has heralded the move as the dawn of a new age of public conversations on the site, with users able to search for hashtags via the search bar, click on hashtags in status updates to see other posts with the same tag, add hashtags to advertisements and add comments directly into the conversation.  All will make it possible for a salon to talk with everyone, not just its fans.