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Study Shows Facebook Hashtags Don’t Help and They Could Hurt




hashtagsDo you ever click on hashtags to learn more about a topic?

Do you click them on Twitter? Probably.

Do you click them on Facebook? Probably not.

Edgerank conducted a study where they examined 35,000 posts over 500 Pages. About 6,000 of the posts had hashtags and here is the first result.

Median-Viral-Reach-for-Hashtags

Wow. Posts without hashtags had a much higher viral reach among fans. Must be a fluke. Let’s test Engagement among fans. . . 22% vs 25% in favor of no hashtag. Hmmmm…

Maybe the results would be more even if we compare only pages with a large number of followers.

1M+-Median-Viral-Reach-for-Hashtags

Nope.

No matter how they sliced it, the results were always the same. No Hashtag posts always out performed Hashtag posts. Sometimes the difference was small but sans hashtags always came out ahead.

Why?

Edgerank thought that perhaps they were over estimating the power of hashtags in general, so they ran a test on Twitter. Here are the results:

Twitter-rts-per-followerLook at that. People love to pass along Tweets with hashtags! So why aren’t they doing the same on Facebook?

My own, unscientific research says it’s because Facebook’s hashtag system is terrible. I posted a test tag – #TV and what I got back was way off the mark. The “top” result was from a Lebanese hairdresser posting photos of a local TV host six hours ago. The next five posts aren’t in English, so I’m not sure what they have to do with TV. Then I got a post from an extras casting agency in Atlanta looking for a stand-in for Vampire Diaries.  At least it was a reference to an American television show.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the initials TV. But who rights out the word “television” in a post? At the very least, you’d think Facebook would get that I speak English and only return posts in my native language.

Here’s what happens if I click on hashtag #TV on Twitter:

Twitter TV

Those results make sense. They’re under an hour old and they directly relate to what people are watching on TV. In addition, Twitter suggested several TV oriented Twitter accounts I might want to follow such as TV Guide and HBO.

Facebook has always had the worst and the weirdest search engine results. I thought we were past that with the introduction of the graph search, but clearly the hashtag search engine isn’t working as it should. Maybe that’s why the majority of Facebookers aren’t using, sharing or clicking hashtags.

The huge downside for marketers is that, according to these results, using hashtags not only doesn’t help your numbers, they actually hurt them.

How do you feel about Facebook hashtags now? #confused

  • JIm

    “But who *rights* out the word “television” in a post?” ——- “you’d think Facebook would get that I speak English”

    that is all. sorry.

  • Radina Disheva

    I believe the scale on the second chart is also wrong or is the data wrong?