I was perfectly comfortable using hashtags on Twitter but I wasn’t knowledgeable about their use on Facebook. A bit of research was in order for me to make an informed post so I Googled “hashtags on Facebook”. The results were quite disturbing, and extremely fresh, some having been posted within minutes of my search. Here are a few of the phrases I encountered:
• Hashtags on Facebook do nothing to help additional exposure
• Hashtags are a turn-off on Facebook
• Facebook hashtags said to have zero viral impact
Those phrases spurred me on to research the reasons why hashtags are detrimental to posts on Facebook. I mean, could it really be true?
Following is a summary of what I learned.
As it turns out, EdgeRank Checker had done a very thorough study of hashtags on Facebook. (Here’s what EdgeRank does in their own words: “We’ve developed our own EdgeRank algorithm to help Page Admins [on Facebook] understand how their Page interacts with the News Feed.) If anyone would have the data on hashtag performance on Facebook, EdgeRank would have it. And they studied it. Thoroughly.
According to EdgeRank, “…posts with hashtags have less Viral Reach than posts without hashtags!”3
Not only was Viral Reach less, but also engagement per fan was down. One possibility for this is that only very large Pages experience an increase in Viral Reach “due to the selection process of which brands are displayed once clicking a hashtag.”
EdgeRank Checker tested a variety of fan base sizes from under 10K to over 1M to see whether hashtag success varied. Not much. Only in the 250K-500K did hashtags produce a slight increase in median engagement per fan.
Organic reach tests produced slightly better results, with four out of eight Page Size categories increasing their reach by using hashtags.
But the main purpose of hashtags is to increase Viral Reach. Again, test results showed that Viral Reach among all but one Page Size was less when using hashtags, than without them.
EdgeRank Checker tested several hypotheses to make sure they hadn’t missed something, hadn’t come to the wrong conclusion before publishing their study. Nevertheless, their results held up. In nearly all tests, hashtags produced less Reach and Engagement than posts without them.
Perhaps users are less inclined to click on hashtags on Facebook than on Twitter.
EdgeRank was not the only tester to discover that hashtags aren’t beneficial on Facebook. Simply Measured came to the same conclusion.2
To get to the origin of hashtags on Facebook (nothing like working a story backward), I sought out the Facebook announcement for hashtags that was posted back on June 12. Here’s what Greg Lindley had to say about it:
“Hashtags are just the first step to help people more easily discover what others are saying about a specific topic and participate in public conversations. We’ll continue to roll out more features in the coming weeks and months, including trending hashtags and deeper insights, that help people discover more of the world’s conversations.”1
So tell me. Do you use hashtags on Facebook? If you do, will you continue to use them given the test results? Please leave a comment!
1. Lindley, Greg. “Public conversations on Facebook”. Newsroom.fb.com. 12 June 2013. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.http://newsroom.fb.com/News/633/Public-Conversations-on-Facebook
2. Peacock, Marisa. “Social Media Briefs: Hashtags fail Facebook, innovate Twitter. CMSWire.com. 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.
3. Wittman, Chad. “Hashtags on Facebook do nothing to help additional exposure”. EdgeRank.com Checker. 3 Sept. 2013. Web. 6 Sept. 2013. http://edgerankchecker.com/blog/2013/09/hashtags-on-facebook-do-nothing-to-help-additional-exposure/