Do We Really Still Need Hashtags on Facebook?
When Facebook introduced hashtags on June 13, 2013, many of us who engage with our target markets and audiences through social media held strong opinions (mainly negative) about them. In fact, most of us still feel skeptical.
That’s because even now, nearly two years later, we find few success stories about brands using hashtags on Facebook.
Have the businesses that are using (or have used) hashtags on Facebook seeing any positive results? Are they useful for brands – or for anyone?
Hashtags really DO work…at least on some social media platforms!
For example, hashtags certainly work well for businesses and brands on Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags on those platforms have been proven to increase engagement:
- Tweets with a hashtag get double the engagement vs. tweets without them
- Tweets with 1-2 hashtags have 21% more engagement
- Users are 55% more likely to retweet when there is at least 1 hashtag included
- But 40% of tweets with hashtags get retweeted
Source: Post Planner
For this particular visual platform, hashtags are not only highly recommended, they are strongly encouraged for engagement. In fact, as you can see in the image above, taken from the Buffer blog, show soaring engagement levels for Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags:
- 0 Hashtags = 18 interaction per 1,000 followers
- 11 Hashtags = 79.5 interaction per 1,000 followers
However, when the number of hashtags was between 1 and 10, the interaction percentages fluctuated. Either way though, using any number of hashtags makes at least some difference in the percentage of engagement on Instagram posts, especially when compared to using none.
Are there any benefits for brands that use hashtags on Facebook?
By design, hashtags on Facebook are clickable and searchable. Brands can take advantage of this feature by using Facebook for marketing activities such as (1) monitoring current trends, (2) social listening, and (3) content marketing.
Monitoring trends and staying in the loop – and keeping your followers in the loop, too
Facebook uses algorithms which help determine the topics that are most important to its users. The platform further segments those topics and displays them, based on each individual users’ preferred interests (at least as far as what the Facebook powers-that-be think they like).
If you’re considering the use of “trending” hashtags when posting on your brand’s Page, then you should always keep your audience in mind. Many brands have gotten negative comments, and even lost followers, after using hashtags which were unrelated – or offensive – to their audiences.
Using Facebook hashtags for social listening
Some socially savvy businesses have discovered how Facebook hashtags provide them with an effective way of monitoring the specific topics which are most important to their target markets and their competition.
Content marketing benefits from Facebook Hashtags
Some businesses use Facebook for promoting their own content, either on their brand or personal Pages. When doing so, they may decide to include relevant hashtags with their posts. This is how many brands use hashtags on Twitter.
When using hashtags on Facebook, brands help make their content and Pages searchable – and “findable” – to potential customers, current customers, or anyone else who may be interested in their content.
Speaking of, some marketers use hashtags as a way of seeking out interesting and relevant content that they can share with their own audiences. Find out which Facebook hashtags are most popular among brands in your industry and use them when posting on your own Page. This may help the right people find you and your brand more easily.
How effective are hashtags on Facebook?
So, back to the original question… do we really still need hashtags on Facebook? It’s a tricky question with no single answer. It mainly depends on how your brand intends to use hashtags. If you use them in ways such as those I listed above, then sure, hashtags may hold some value for Facebook users.
If a brand uses hashtags on Facebook for marketing and/or engagement purposes, then they may find less-than-stellar results. For one thing, organic reach levels have been dropping for brand Pages on Facebook for over a year now. Using hashtags apparently has little to no effect on a post’s visibility.
Apparently, Facebook users only want to see “high quality” content from brand Pages in their News Feeds. As a result, Facebook has developed an algorithm which increases the visibility of the posts which potentially encourage engagement (in the form of “Likes” and comments), and/or sharing content by the Page’s audience(s).
So even Facebook recommends simply posting quality content for increased chances of your content’s visibility. And, it’s no surprise…hashtags are not even considered in this Facebook algorithm.
Over to you
When it comes to using hashtags on Facebook, the final decision is up to you, of course. How do you feel about them? Do you think they still hold potential for social media marketing, or are they just a waste of time? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please feel free to leave a comment below.
Image attribution: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_albund‘ / 123RF Stock Photo
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