Surprise: Facebook Hashtags Don’t Work

September 4, 2013 | Andy Cush

Remember when Facebook announced it would begin incorporating hashtags back in spring and everybody was like uh, okay? And we were like, how are hashtags going to work when so many people have their updates set to private, unlike on Twitter? Well.

As it turns out, they don’t work. According to new data from the analytics company EdgeRankChecker, posts with hashtags actually reach less people than those without them. Keep it in mind, #brands, and people who act like #brands.

CNET explains:

EdgeRank analyzed Facebook hashtags by looking at more than 500 Pages in July. Within these Pages, there were more than 35,000 posts, of which more than 6,000 had hashtags. To get the metrics, EdgeRank averaged each Page’s performance with and without hashtags.

No matter how EdgeRank tallied the data — such as based on how many fans a user had, time of posting, and consistency of hashtag use — the Facebook hashtags did nothing for their users.

Why don’t hashtags work for brands? EdgeRank posits it may have as much to do with brands as it does with hashtags. “We hypothesize that hashtagged posts don’t have the expected increase in Viral Reach due to how brand’s [sic] are using them,” they wrote. “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.”

Tough luck, #brands.