Study Shows Hashtags On Facebook Result In Less Viral Reach For Pages

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facebook hashtag

Facebook adopted the use of hashtags for both personal and business pages earlier this year. Since hashtags have proven to be a useful tool on other social networks, marketers jumped at the chance to use them on Facebook. While some have seen success using hashtags on Facebook, those results are not typical according to a recent study.

A study conducted by EdgeRank Checker began with the assumption that “if people see an object in the news feed with a hashtag they’re interested in, they will click the hashtag to discover more interesting content related to the particular hashtag.”

However, the results from their study show otherwise. The company looked at more than 500 pages in July. These pages had a combined total of 35,000 posts and at least 6,000 of those posts contained hashtags.

Results show that hashtags on Facebook resulted in less viral reach. There was a measurable decrease in the amount of engagement per fan which was consistent across all pages regardless of the total number of fans a page has.

By comparison, EdgeRank Checker also analyzed the Twitter accounts of 50 companies listed in Fortune 500 to find that using a hashtag typically resulted in twice the likelihood of being retweeted. More than 70% of the accounts analyzed had an increase in retweets when using a hashtag compared to those that didn’t use one.

You can view the full report from the study here.

What do you think is the reason behind hashtags being less engaging on Facebook? Since they’re relatively new, do you they will become more useful over time? Let’s hear your opinions in the comments section!

Matt Southern
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing... Read Full Bio
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  • Daniel Sanchez

    It’s new, give it some time.

  • Jan Koch

    Hi Matt,
    I think that there’s a substantial difference between Facebook and Twitter and for me, that difference might be the reason for this significantly less engaging character of hashtags.

    On Twitter, the users are used to get more information by clicking on hashtags. It’s easy to follow conversations on Twitter by just clicking on the hashtag and see what other Twitter users are saying. In fact, this function was built around hashtags almost right from the beginning and that’s why it’s tied in perfectly into Twitter.

    Coming to Facebook, there’s a different user mentality. People interact with other people they already know or with brands (at least for some lucky brands). It’s not about getting in touch with unknown people or joining an ongoing conversation. It’s about closer personal connections and thus, Facebook had a good reason not to introduce hashtags in the beginning.

    Now Facebook is just trying to include hashtags because they work for Twitter. But it’s not that easy and I believe that we’re going to see some changes regarding to the integration of hashtags in the near future.

    Best regards,

    • Kelsey Jones

      Great thoughts Jan! I agree.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I’m kind of amazed yet not surprised as the same time hashtags are doing so horrible on FB. I think more people use hashtags on Twitter correctly, versus on Facebook, when #reallylonghashtagswithnomeanings seem to used a lot more.

    • Matt Roney

      I’ve noticed that too. A part of me wonders if it has to do with the fact that hashtags on Facebook had become something of an ironic joke because they didn’t actually work. Users would add the hash tag as a sort of self-aware, pithy comment rather than as a useful means of finding information. It might take a while for that to dissipate.

  • raman bathina

    Yes i’m sure about to said that hash tags doesn’t hit much.I didn’t see more mentioning about these tags in my friends fan pages also.

  • Shannon Hernandez

    Interesting post, Matt. I’d like to think the reason content isn’t as viral is it should is because Facebook hasn’t integrated a reason for people see why a ridiculous hashtag is trending. Just like the “Trending” widgets on Twitter and Google+, this portion of the network allows users to peruse popular hashtags and then browse. Although this can be contradictory to networks like Pinterest and Tumblr, but I am under the personal assumption that there is no direction to knowing why people are integrating hashtags inside of their posts.

    Each network utilizes hashtags differently, but I personally believe that if Facebook is going to see success in this arena, they need to provide a sidebar widget that shows the Top 5 Trending Topics. Brands can adjust their marketing campaigns around popular hashtags and see virality from that point forward.

    I don’t see Facebook forgetting about this tool anytime in the near future. Whether a brand is hashtagging or not, it needs to be implemented in case something does happen with its utility.

  • Glenn Bearsky

    “Discovery” really is the key term here. Till now, discovery has been rather passive by whatever appears in our feeds with a largely internal ‘Pass It On’ mentality. We LEAVE FaceBook to perhaps go to Google to find content, then return to share it. So more actively exploring _inside of FB_ is a huge hurdle and shift for FB users to make.

    Despite Bing Search’s long partnership with FaceBook, they’ve been deprecated below searching for People or Pages. FB’s inability to leverage this better has been mind boggling. I shouldn’t have to leave FB at all – let alone to a competitor’s search engine. But that’s what I and millions of others do day to day. Tags should help over time as the user notion of internal discovery ramps-up — Tags just haven’t broken the ‘Critical Mass’ barrier yet. And I concur: Featuring popular and trending tags needs to happen, and the sooner the better.