The following is a guest post by Kerry Jones of LetsHomeschoolHighschool.com. Kerry has also been a longtime admin of other popular homeschool websites such as HomeschoolLiterature.com and SecularHomeschool.com. She is an expert in online homeschooling and using technology to enhance the homeschooling experience.
I admin a few different homeschooling websites, and over twenty different social networks and I’ll admit, I was still skeptical when I heard about Facebook’s idea to incorporate hashtags into their search options.
After all, isn’t it useless to have hashtags when everyone’s feeds are private?
I quickly discovered that the answer to that is a big old fat “NO!!”.
Why? Because there is SO much public information available on Facebook. And many homeschoolers might not even be aware of it. Facebook communities, pages, groups, public profiles. That’s where the new hashtag feature comes in! Here are my thoughts on why homeschoolers should utilize the new feature AND even hashtag things themselves….
Quick and relative information
There are innumerable websites related to homeschooling out there in cyber-land, but sometimes you don’t have the time to go searching through them all for the information you want. On the other hand, people are having conversations, in real-time, every minute on Facebook, and they are probably already talking about things you are curious about. Things like: #homeschoolcurriculum, #homeschoollaws, #homeschoolmath, #homeschoolhighschool. And no, those hashtags aren’t on Facebook yet….but they WILL be. And clicking on one will take you to the most up-to-date and personalized info on that subject anywhere on the web!
Finding that info is now as easy as heading up to your Facebook search field and typing in the pound sign + your hashtag of choice.
Discovering new sources of homeschool information
We often spend a great deal of time on Facebook, but the truth is that our focus is often pretty limited. Unless one of our friends happens to share a new FB community with us, or “Likes” a page that piques our curiosity, we can often be completely unaware of pages, groups, and people that would greatly benefit our homeschooling journey. For instance did you happen to know there is a dedicated Facebook community for Roadschoolers? Or for families homeschooling while in the military? If you didn’t, it’s likely because you never really thought to search for those communities on Facebook – – even if they apply to you! Hashtags may just change all that in the very near future. The hope is that FB pages and communities will start tagging at least some of their posts with #roadschooling, #militaryhomeschoolers, #christianhomeschoolers, #homeschoolsciencecurriculum so that you can find folks to follow that you might never have discovered before now!
Sharing info that will benefit other homeschoolers
The truth is that for Facebook hashtags to make a difference in our lives, we have to be willing to use them ourselves. And not just companies or groups. But as individuals. Most of the time we like keeping our Facebook status updates only accessible to our true Facebook friends. But let’s say you’ve discovered a homeschool tip or product that you wish you could share with the world. With Facebook’s “Public” feature and the new hashtag option, you can do just that! Here’s how….
Don’t forget to include the hashtag that you want to be searchable on Facebook
Click on the Audience option at the bottom of the status window to change your audience from Friends -> Public
Then click “Post”
Now, your info will be completely searchable by all homeschoolers who are looking for up-to-date opinions and conversations about your topic of choice!
This is even more important for homeschool PAGES and COMMUNITIES. If you admin a specific homeschool-related group or information page, then you have an opportunity to join the new Facebook information highway by simply tagging important posts with hashtags you think other homeschoolers are seeking information about.
The great news is that you don’t have to GUESS about what these hashtags are. There is already a brand new community for homeschoolers on Facebook who want to keep up with the latest on homeschool hashtags. The Homeschool Hashtags Facebook page has a dedicated tab for current lists of Facebook hashtags most important to homeschoolers. And if there is a hashtag you think needs to be included on the list, you can simply share it on the page for consideration.