Brands aren’t benefiting from the use of hashtags in their Facebook posts, according to an EdgeRank Checker analysis. Based on an examination of 500 pages that posted with and without a hashtag during July, the study finds that median viral reach per fan was actually lower for posts containing hashtags (0.8%) than for those without (1.3%). Median engagement per fan (0.22% vs. 0.25%) and median organic reach per fan (12.47% vs. 13.35%) were also lower for posts containing hashtags, though by decidedly smaller margins.
Interestingly, the results generally held true across fan sizes. For example, both media engagement per fan and viral reach per fan were lower for posts containing hashtags across 7 of the 8 page sizes measured. The results for organic reach per fan were more mixed: 4 of the 8 page sizes actually showed an increase in reach for posts containing hashtags.
Surprised by those findings, the researchers checked to see if hashtags boosted viral reach towards the end of the month, when users presumably had more time to undertand and use them. However, that was also not the case.
Interestingly, performance of posts containing hashtags was not associated with poor content types. Photos, which have been tied to high engagement rates, actually made up 70% of the posts with hashtags, compared to 60% of the posts without hashtags.
The researchers theorize that the lower reach for posts containing hashtags is a function of how they’re being used. Namely, brands are likely using hashtags in promotional campaigns, which tend to have lower engagement and reach potential.
About the Data: EdgeRank Checker analyzed more than 500 pages that posted both with and without a hashtag during the month of July. The pages posted more than 35,000 times during the month. Of the 35,000+ posts, more than 6,000 contained hashtags. For each of the particular metrics studied, each page’s performance was averaged both with and without hashtags. For any median results published, EdgeRank Checker took the median of the Pages’ performance averages. Each week had roughly the same amount of posts with hashtags, with no more than an 8% change week over week. To maintain relativity, metrics were divided by fans at the time of the post.