When Facebook launched hashtags many people questioned how useful this feature was going to be. Facebook assumed by rolling out hashtags, that organizational and brand pages using hashtags would receive increased exposure from other brands and organizations who were using the same hashtags.
However, according to a new study by EdgeRank Checker posts with hashtags on Facebook don’t have as good reach as posts than those without. Edgerank reviewed more than 500 Facebook pages and 35,000 posts. The study found about 6,000 of the posts contained hashtags and these were the same posts that had a decrease in engagement per fan. Organic reach was slightly impacted negatively too.
The study also examined if there was a benefit for Facebook Pages with larger audiences (100K+ page Likes to 1M) that used hashtags. But once again, the study showed that not even the Facebook Pages with the largest audiences were benefiting from hashtags.
The leads of the study said they were surprised to see that hashtags on Facebook did not even have a positive impact on viral rates. “This is a surprise for us, as we would have been certain that using a hashtag would have caused an increase in Viral Reach, even if it were a small increase.”
The results from the study are not surprising. People use Facebook very differently then they use Twitter, where hashtags are popular to follow news and trending topics on breaking information or pop culture. For example, on Twitter, “using a hashtag typically resulted in roughly double the likelihood of being ReTweeted. Over 70% of the brands experienced an increase in RT’s when using a hashtag versus not using one,” said the study.
Facebook is more personal. Many people use Facebook to connect with friends and family. They also use it to connect with organizations or brands they support. People visit these FB Pages when they are prompted by a post in their newsfeed, an email alert, or FB ads. But people aren’t coming to Facebook to look at what’s trending in the news – unless it’s their friends or family posting the news often accompanied by commentary.
What’s your experience using hashtags on Facebook? Do the results surprise you?