Last month, Facebook announced that it was to follow in the footsteps of Twitter and other rivals by introducing hashtags to its site. This has led to a period of experimentation for brands online, as they bid to find out whether or not hashtags can help drive engagement on the world’s biggest social network.
The benefits of using hashtags on Facebook have since been widely discussed, but in theory they should help companies’ posts reach more people – as Facebook users that aren’t necessarily fans of your page click onto a hashtag and then see your posts listed. Either way, statistics published by Simply Measured indicate brands are actively starting to use them.
Their early research looked at the first fourteen days after hashtags became clickable on the site, with their results showing that 18 of the Interbrand Top 100 brands online posted at least 5 statuses containing hashtags during this short period, whilst 6 posted over 10 statuses with hashtags during this brief study.
The percentage of total status updates from these Top 100 brands that included hashtags reached 26% on one day during the research period. However after this period, the percentage dropped off, ending as low as 14% by the end of the data period.
Whilst brands on Twitter have evidently started using hashtags, it will be interesting to see whether this success can be replicated on a network which is far more private than, say, Twitter and Instagram. Privacy settings, of course, can still restrict who sees your post even with a hashtag included and the early indications are that hashtags aren’t increasing engagement on Facebook.
It will also be fun to see whether firms can strike the balance between using hashtags effectively and overusing them, something that many claim has negatively impacted the user experience on Instagram and Twitter.