Early this summer, Facebook released hashtag support for users and brands that wanted to be “part of a larger discussion.” According to Edgerank Checker, a Facebook optimization company, hashtags not only fail to be part of the larger conversation, but that they also may hinder engagement and reach, #uhoh.
Over 500 pages were tracked with over 35,000 posts during this study and the results were staggering. Overall the median viral reach and the median organic reach of posts were lower if they contained a hashtag. Viral reach dropped from 1.30% to .80% when a hashtag was present, engagement dropped slightly from .25% to .22% and organic fan reach dropped almost a full percent from 13.36% to 12.47%
From an engagement standpoint the decreased results were similar regardless of the Page size. In all cases except the fan pages with 250-500k fans saw an decrease of up for 15 basis points when hashtags were used.
So what about those brands that committed to using hashtags — maybe they saw a viral increase? Nope, brands that used hashtags each week saw a drop of 18 percentage points:
The real question that this leads us to ask is – Just how to hashtags affect the virality on other networks? Thankfully EdgeRank Checker analyzed this as well. They found that on Twitter hashtags actually increased the number of retweets by 72% (up to .0069% of RTs/followers compared to .004% without hashtags).
According to this study, hashtags on Facebook simply don’t correlate to higher viral or organic reach on Facebook. However, this doesn’t mean that hashtags won’t ever help reach. As always, test to see what works for your brand and proceed.
To see the full study, head over to EdgeRank Checker for a very detailed breakdown.