Want More Facebook Engagement? Don't Overload Posts with Hashtags

When Facebook introduced clickable hashtags last summer, it was a long-awaited and welcomed addition for marketers. The hashtag’s popularity on Twitter made integrating them into Facebook strategies a piece of cake. As a result, marketers were able to launch cross-platform hashtag campaigns for the first time. We’ve seen brands experimenting with hashtags ever since.

Although new excitement over the feature has died down a bit, marketers are doing themselves a disservice by replacing every other word in a post with a hashtag. A good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to just one or two hashtags per post, and here’s why: new data has found that the more hashtags a brand uses in a Facebook post past that basic number, the less engagement it receives.

In a sampling of 200,000 brand posts on the social network in February 2014, it was revealed that brands using one or two hashtags in a given post received an average of 593 interactions. For comparison’s sake, that number dropped to 416 for brands that used three to five hashtags, 307 for six to 10 hashtags, and 188 for more than 10. Now is not the time to risk a decrease in engagement, which plays an integral role in determining your post’s reach. You might be tempted to hashtag every other word in hopes of boosting discovery, but doing so will actually hurt your chances.

We’ve already taken a look at three of the first Facebook hashtag campaigns to become hits. Here, we’ll look at a couple more brands that have successfully created hashtag campaigns without going overboard.

Gatorade – #WinFromWithin

Gatorade regularly uses its Facebook presence to build awareness for its advertising campaigns. Although this particular hashtag campaign originated on Twitter, it has seen a lot of success on Facebook since the introduction of clickable hashtags. #WinFromWithin is an attempt to prove that what you put in your body is more important than what you wear. It provided Gatorade with an opportunity to communicate with and educate consumers about proper hydration and nutrition before, during, and after physical activity.

Searching for #WinFromWithin on Facebook will reveal that the hashtag is more than just a promotional tool; it has created a two-way conversation between athletes and the brand. The campaign has seen an extraordinary amount of submissions from consumers since its launch, many of whom use the hashtag to ask questions and post inspirational photos.

Another thing worth noting about #WinFromWithin is its presence on Gatorade’s Facebook Page. The brand made sure to include it in its About section, and you’ll also notice that it’s featured on a majority of Gatorade’s shared images. We know that photos receive a lot of engagement on the social network, so including the hashtag on its images is a great way for Gatorade to gain addition exposure.

Dove – #BeautyIs

When someone visits your Facebook Page, the first thing they see is your cover photo. Additionally, cover photos appear in News Feed and in hover cards across the platform. So if you have a successful hashtag campaign underway, or maybe you’re kicking off a new one, where on your Page is a good place to put it? Your cover photo.

If you visit Dove’s Facebook Page, #BeautyIs is front and center in its cover photo. Immediately it prompts visitors to either scroll down or type it into the search bar for more information. Although this is a branded hashtag, it relies on user-generated content to generate traffic and engagement. More importantly, the hashtag is relevant to the brand, easy to remember, and inspirational.

This isn’t the first time Dove has successfully integrated a hashtag into its Facebook strategy. Last summer the brand ran a campaign called #DoveHairAffair, which brilliantly incorporated its products into user-generated content. Fans of the brand (in select cities) were treated to a complementary wash and style using Dove’s new line of hair care products. In turn, women across Facebook were posting about their #DoveHairAffair.

A good hashtag should clearly relate to something about your brand or product. If you settle on a word or phrase that’s too generic your posts will get lost in the noise. And if you clutter your Facebook posts with too many hashtags, your fans won’t know which one to use to join in the conversation. For those reasons, it’s a good idea to create your hashtag early in your campaign preparation. Don’t wait until you’re ready to hit publish to come up with something. Know your goals, consider the risks involved, and maybe try out a couple of different options first. For a full guide on how to use hashtags, see this post.