Despite Facebook’s efforts to promote its hashtags feature since its June launch, including prodding users to explore more hashtags and the launch of a trending topics module, a study by EdgeRank Checker mirrored the results of a similar effort by Simply Measured in July: Hashtags are not improving engagement for posts by pages.
EdgeRank Checker found that:
- Page posts with hashtags had less viral reach, on average, than page posts without hashtags.
- Engagement per fan was down for posts with hashtags, as was organic reach.
- On Twitter, where hashtags originated, the use of hashtags roughly doubled the likelihood that tweets would be retweeted.
- More than 70 percent of the brands on Twitter studied by EdgeRank Checker saw increased engagement for tweets containing hashtags.
- Pages that posted on Facebook with hashtags tended to post more photos.
- The highest number of hashtags added to a single post on Facebook was 19.
- 60 percent of Facebook posts with hashtags use just one.
What did EdgeRank Checker make of its findings?
Our hypothesis is that not many people are clicking on hashtags. If many people were clicking hashtags, we should see an increase in viral reach for posts with hashtags. The data are not showing that. If anything, they are showing a decrease in viral reach. This brings up another question: Why would hashtagged posts have a decrease in viral reach?
We hypothesize that hashtagged posts don’t have the expected increase in viral reach due to how brands are using them. After examining how hashtags are being used, hashtags are often used in promotional material. For some brands, they’ve created campaigns around particular hashtags and use them in all posts associated with the campaign. By nature, campaigns are promotional and, therefore, more likely to drive less engagement, fewer clicks, and, ultimately, less reach.
Readers: Are you surprised that hashtags haven’t caught on in posts by Facebook pages?
Hashtags image courtesy of Shutterstock.