Earlier this summer, Facebook made hashtags clickable in status updates published from both personal profiles and brand Pages. Hashtags have been a great tool for promotion and discovery on other social networks, and since their launch on Facebook marketers have jumped on the bandwagon with success. However, that might not be the case for everyone.
A recent study by Facebook analytics service EdgeRank Checker stated that posts with hashtags don’t have as great of reach than those without. The company looked at more than 500 Pages in July to see whether hashtags were used. Of those Pages, there were more than 5,000 posts, of which at least 6,000 contained hashtags.
Going into the study, the company’s assumption was “if people see an object in the News Feed with a hashtag they’re interested in, they will click the hashtag to discover more interesting content related to the particular hashtag. Brands that talk about trending hashtags may receive additional exposure due to other Pages using hashtags because their Page may show up unexpectedly.”
But based on the results, hashtags on Facebook posts resulted in less viral reach, specifically there was a decrease in the amount of engagement per fan and that it wasn’t affected by the size of the fan base — meaning that there’s no correlation that the more fans you have, the great the positive impact on your engagement.
To adjust for error, EdgeRank Checker also collected Twitter data to see if hashtags increased engagement. The company analyzed 50 Twitter accounts from the Fortune 500 and found that using a hashtag typically resulted in roughly double the likelihood of being retweeted. More than 70 percent of the brands experienced an increase in retweets when using a hashtag compared to those that didn’t.
Keep in mind that hashtags are still relatively new to Facebook, whereas Twitter members have been using them for years. It’s possible that the results could be influenced by a learning curve. It’s also possible that the particular hashtags weren’t interesting enough or were too promotional. While this study provides Twitter marketers with an interesting read, it also serves as a good reminder to stay grounded when trying out new marketing strategies.
Success had by others didn’t come immediately and might not come at all for everyone who follows in their footsteps. Figure out what works for your brand and fans and build from there. If you’re interested in seeing more data from this study, you can read the complete report on EdgeRank Checker’s blog.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.