Using Hashtags On Facebook? They May Be Working Against You

Median-Viral-Reach-for-Hashtags-EdgeRank-CheckerFacebook's introduction of hashtags met a mixed response but the general expectation was that they would become a staple of music marketing on Facebook just as they have on other social networks. However a new study by EdgeRank Checker found that Facebook posts with hashtags experience less engagement and significantly less viral reach. The study included a quick look at Twitter that showed hashtags having a positive effect on that platform.

Back in June, Facebook introduced hashtags following other social networks particularly Twitter. Reaction was widespread from those who considered the move a no-brainer to those who felt like hashtags were the last thing Facebook needed.

Hashtags on Facebook: What Could Go Wrong?

But the general assumption seemed to be that hashtags would increase engagement on Facebook and ultimately drive more traffic to pages that used them well. The folks at EdgeRank Checker studied hashtags on Facebook to test this assumption with a focus on Facebook business Pages:

"We 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. Of the 35,000+ posts, over 6,000 of them contained hashtags."

The study looked at both "viral reach" and "organic reach" as defined by Facebook:

"Viral reach: The number of unique people who saw this post from a story published by a friend. These stories can include liking, commenting or sharing your post, answering a question or responding to an event."

"Organic reach: The number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed, ticker or on your Page."

What The Researchers Found

The EdgeRank Checker researchers were surprised to find that viral reach was less, and sometimes far less, for Facebook posts that used hashtags versus those that didn't.

They also found less organic reach and fan engagement for posts using hashtags though the differences were not as dramatic or as consistent.

Over on Twitter, with a much smaller sample, they found a positive correlation between use of hashtags and retweeting, what they consider Twitter's equivalent for viral reach.

The study goes into additional detail with charts but the short version remains:

Hashtags appear to have a negative effect on Facebook and a positive one on Twitter.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. It sounds like you think hashtags will benefit brands more than users. If so, I definitely agree. Hashtag spamming could become a huge problem as well. I’ve already seen examples from the wedding industry Pages on Facebook.

  2. This is going to require some experimentation, I think, to use them as effectively on the hitherto more personal FB as opposed to the more open Twitter and Google+…

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