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BizReport : Social Marketing : July 26, 2013

Facebook hashtags have little effect on engagement

Hashtags are a powerful discovery tool on Twitter but, according to new research, they have little impact on engagement within the Facebook environment.

by Helen Leggatt

Back in April, I reported on how consumers are using hashtags on Twitter to explore new content. A survey by RadiumOne found that 41% click on hashtags to find out more about a product or brand.

Kamal Kaur, VP of mobile at RadiumOne said "hashtags implicitly reflect consumer sentiment and are one of the most powerful ways consumers have to vocalize their tastes and preferences at scale in a real-time fashion".

However, it turns out the same can't be said for the introduction of hashtags on Facebook.

Research from social media analytics firm Simply Measured has found that, while 20% of top brands' Facebook posts now include hashtags, there is no evidence they are influencing engagement. In fact, according to the research, posts with hashtags perform just as well as those without.

Almost all of the Interbrand Top 100 brands have a Facebook presence, yet just 20% of posts from the group have incorporated hashtags on the social network.

Instead, visual content is by far the major driver of engagement on Facebook. Photos posted by top brands average more than 9,400 engagements (which include Likes, comments, and shares) per post, while video posts average more than 2,500 engagements.

"This latest research once again proves that knowing your audience, understanding your content assets and measuring your efforts are extremely important to develop the social strategies that will work best for you," said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of Simply Measured.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: brand marketing, consumer engagement, hashtags, research, social marketing, social network tools

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  • Sophie Kemenes

    I definetely think its just a matter of time. And if hashtags do nothing else but generates a few more organic reach out of a single page usual engagement circle, it is a win. Slightly one, as it is now.

  • Tim Priester

    One reason why hashtags might not be working on Facebook, Facebook doesn't have a character limit, so spammers are just cramming as many hashtags into a post as possible and filling the search with unrelated content.

  • dave neuman

    Yes, but most of the top brands (which is what the study analyzed) aren't doing this. Even though they're using it properly, it still hasn't resulted in any increased engagement.

    I'm noticing the same trend. Hashtags though are still a very new feature and it might take time for it to catch on to a higher volume of Facebook users. I think it's too early to say one way or another if they're worthwhile.

  • Tim Priester

    Sure, I was just speculating why hashtags aren't as valuable on Facebook as they are on Twitter, but I can offer an opinion as to why they aren't driving engagement as they are measuring it in that report too.

    It looks like the report is only measuring the facile numbers that can be pulled by looking at a post (likes, comments and shares), but not where a hashtag click is actually being recorded in the Facebook Insights export, probably as an "Other Click" or "Link Click".

    So a user could be using the hashtag function as it's intended, clicking on it and going to a feed of other posts using that hashtag, but do we expect them to go back to our original post and perform an engagement action based solely on the use of a hashtag? Would anyone ever be inclined to leave a comment about how awesome a hashtag is?



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