According to new data released by Facebook's analytics service, EdgeRank Checker, posts with hashtags do nothing. In fact, including hashtags in Facebook posts could potentially have a negative effect. EdgeRank's blog post about the findings revealed "The data shows that posts that didn't include a hashtag performed better than posts with hashtags... posts with hashtags don't increase viral reach." According to the study, EdgeRank Checker analyzed over 500 pages that posted both hashtags and no hashtags during the month of July. The pages posted over 35,000 times with over 6,000 posts using hashtags. What the analytics service found was that, when hashtags were used, viral reach went down as did organic reach and fan engagement.

Twitter, meanwhile, continues to experience a positive correlation between using hashtags and engagement and viral reach. "For Twitter, using a hashtag typically resulted in roughly double the likelihood of being ReTweeted," EdgeRank concludes. "Over 70 percent of the brands experienced an increase in RTs when using a hashtag versus not using one."

Why Are Facebook Hashtags Doing So Poorly?

EdgeRank believes the reason behind hashtag poor performance is a lack of clicks and incorrect usage by brands. EdgeRank explains "hashtags are often used in promotional material, for some brands, they've created campaigns around particular hashtags and used them in all posts associated with the campaign.

 

By nature, campaigns are promotional, therefore, more likely to drive less engagement, fewer clicks, and ultimately less reach." Facebook has responded by explaining that Facebook's algorithms focus on high-quality content, rather than just hashtags. Because of this, users shouldn't expect increased distribution of their posts simply because they're including hashtags. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may all be "social networks", but they each attract a different kind of audience and serve a different purpose. It's, therefore, perhaps silly to expect the same tool to work the same way on each of them.