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Facebook Hashtags Might be a Waste Of Time #backtothedrawingboard

In the majority of cases, you’re either a hashtag lover or you’re someone who would rather jump off a bridge than read another hashtag. In either case, there is no denying that hashtags are becoming more and more popular on social media sites, and while they may have started on Twitter, Facebook wasn’t far behind. Users have taken to hashtags on Facebook positively and it has now been a few months since Facebook implemented those little number signs and made them a part of their 1 billion-person community.

However, when it comes to hashtags and the business side of things, they get a little bit more complicated. Small business owners might hope to use the hashtag to drive more users to their page or start a trend, but they have to ask themselves: Is there really any proof that hashtags are successful on Facebook, or are they just an annoying (or totally awesome) trend?

How the Facebook Hashtag Works

The idea behind bringing hashtags into Facebook is exactly the same as the reason hashtags exist on Twitter—creating trends and giving users a way to find more information on a particular topic. From the standpoint of a small business, utilizing hashtags can help put your company page amongst something that is already trending, and this is a good way to improve your visibility. You can also hashtag your business in the hopes that others will join in the fun.

Take the following example of a hashtag that I recently saw on my Facebook. The hashtag was #throughglass, which Facebook also associates with #GoogleGlass. All you have to do is click the hashtag on Facebook and you will be taken to a page full of other posts that used that hashtag:

example

You can continue scrolling and discover tons of pages of posts that mentioned that hashtag, so it makes sense for a company to want to be a part of that list. Whenever the hashtag is clicked, the higher Viral Reach. How could this not be effective?

The Facebook Hashtag Study by EdgeRank Checker

As it turns out, EdgeRank Checker did a study and found the complete opposite: Posts with hashtags faired worse than those without. Posts without hashtags had a 1.3% median viral reach while posts with hashtags had a .8% median viral reach. They explained how they studied this data:

“The company analyzed over 500 pages who posted both with and without a hashtag during the month of July. These pages posted over 35,000 times during July, and of the 35,000+ posts, over 6,000 of them contained hashtags. For each of the particular metrics studied, we averaged each Page’s performance with and without hashtags.”

EdgeRank also found that the median engagement was lower by .3% when using hashtags, and the median organic reach was lower by .89%. The study even went as far as splitting up the data by size of company and type of content distribution (photo, link, app, etc.) and still the conclusion was the same. As a side note: They found that hashtags on Twitter do help.

So Why Do You Think This Happened?

EdgeRank predicted that brands might just be making the hashtags too promotional in nature. What do you think?

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