Ever since Facebook hashtags hit the scene in June, marketers have been trying to figure out if they're worth the extra effort. So far, the results aren't looking good.
EdgeRank Checker data showed that of the more than 500 pages it studied, viral reach and engagement were down on posts with hashtags versus posts without hashtags.
EdgeRank Checker wanted to see if the same were true for hashtags in other platforms like Twitter. What it found after analyzing a sample of 50 Twitter accounts from Fortune 500 brands was that 70 percent of brands experienced an increase in retweets when using a hashtag versus not using one.
In Twitter, retweets are the equivalent of what viral reach is to Facebook, EdgeRank Checker said.
So why the low viral reach? EdgeRank Checker had a hypothesis:
Our hypothesis is that not many people are clicking on hashtags. If many people were clicking hashtags, we should see an increase in Viral Reach for posts with hashtags. The data is not showing that. If anything, it's showing a decrease in Viral Reach.
We hypothesize that hashtagged posts don't have the expected increase in Viral Reach due to how brands are using them. After examining how hashtags are being used, hashtags are often used in promotional material. For some brands, they've created campaigns around particular hashtags and use them in all posts associated with the campaign. By nature, campaigns are promotional, therefore more likely to drive less engagement, less clicks, and ultimately less Reach.
Brands are often instructed to use the same important keywords across all their channels when possible, like in the form of hashtags. But it's also important to research what keywords are actually being used across those social platforms before appending them on status updates in a hashtag.
Do a quick search in the social network for the words you think are associated with your content and see which ones have the most activity. You might be surprised at what you find.