STUDY: Hashtags for brands on Facebook hasn’t led to much engagement

In June, Facebook made hashtags live on the site, borrowing a page from Twitter’s playbook. However, analytics firm Simply Measured noted that adoption has been slow for brands, finding that 20 percent of posts from the Interbrand 100 (a list of the top 100 brands in the world) have incorporated hashtags on Facebook, but there has been no measurable effect.

Simply Measured found that 98 percent of the top brands (such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and IBM) have a presence on Facebook. Apple and Morgan Stanley are the two companies on the Interbrand 100 list without a dedicated, company-managed Facebook page.

Nate Smitha, a marketing analyst for Simply Measured, talked with Inside Facebook about why brands using hashtags hasn’t led to more engagement. He noted that most brands that have started embracing hashtags haven’t really utilized Facebook hashtags in a concerted effort with their Twitter and Instagram hashtags. For a Facebook hashtag to be successful, Smitha said that brands should think about a cohesive cross-platform promotion:

At this point, hashtags are still new for Facebook users and I think that brands have not really implemented them in a way that ties them to other campaigns. As users become more familiar with seeing hashtags used on Twitter in conjunction with Facebook, they will start searching those hashtags out on Facebook. … There have not been a lot of good examples of brands consistently using hashtags across channels. I think that it’s just a little early in the game.

Here’s a look at how these top brands have used hashtags over time:

Simply Measured discovered that posting visual content is still the best way to go, as that leads to 98 percent of engagement, among the top 100 brands. Photos by these brands gained an average of 9,400 engagements per post, and video had an engagement rate of 2,500 per post.

Furthermore, Simply Measured’s study shows why Facebook ended its questions product for pages. In terms of engagement, it scored the lowest, by far.

Other findings from the study:

  • Twitter might have some effect on Facebook, as users tend to like short and sweet posts (but not too short). Analysis of more than 500 status updates from top brands indicated that the longer a status update is, the less engagement it tended to receive. If it’s too short, that can also hinder engagement.
  • Auto brands are the best at engagement on Facebook. Smitha noticed that these types of brands are usually posting interesting photos and videos of their products, leading to more feedback from fans. Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Harley-Davidson and Audi USA all rank among the top 10 in engagement.
  • 29 percent of the top brands don’t allow users to post on their Facebook timeline — leading to a 15 percent dip in engagement. However, users that don’t allow user posts have 71 percent more fans than those that do.
  • The top 10 most engaging brands average 19.9 million fans (the average among the top 98 brands on Facebook is 7.9 million), and post 2.5 times per day. Facebook is the most liked brand page, naturally, with 93 million fans, followed by Coca-Cola and MTV with 68.6 million and 45.8 million fans.

Readers: How often do you use hashtags on your page?

Hashtag image courtesy of Shutterstock.