The #Hashtag Effect on Facebook Marketing

Did hashtags on Facebook help marketing?

When Facebook integrated hashtagging into the platform a few months ago, we promised to keep you posted on changes in functionality and usage.

Turns out, there isn’t much to report.

EdgeRank Checker, a tool designed to study and maximize Facebook exposure, just published a study that shows that the anticipated boom of the hashtag actually fizzled.

Their blog is full of graphs and examples I encourage you to check out if you’re interested in the gory details, but the bottom line is that hashtag use so far has not noticeably increased engagement or viral reach of Facebook posts.  In fact, the study found the opposite – in general, posts with hashtags reached fewer people than those without.

To solve the mystery of why hashtags on Facebook did not enjoy the same success as those on Twitter (where posts with hashtags were almost twice as likely to be re-tweeted) the study also tried to account for variables like type of content and day of post, but no link could be established.

Their best guess is that most brands used hashtags to promote campaigns, which are less likely to inspire sharing and interaction than good, old-fashioned useful content. So our advice, in addition to the helpful hints we already offered up (though maybe back off the campaign hashtag, if you buy into the EdgeRank Checker study) is to use them when it feels right. Social media can’t be forced, and people will only share content they’re okay with their friends knowing they’re excited about. Your job is to get them excited, and the rest will follow.

One thing from the study that probably didn’t excite Facebook fans but fascinated me: the highest number of hashtags used in a single post was 19. Even if you don’t follow any of our other advice, please don’t ever do that!