Users love Facebook hashtags! In May 2014 the number of hashtags in users’ posts was two times higher than the number of these posts! Sotrender decided to check the influence of using Facebook hashtags in the posts of brands. We examined a hundred of American and International brands’ pages with over one million fans. Check what you can learn from their Facebook performance!

Type Facebook hashtags in Google. You’ll find multiple articles: Why Facebook hashtags were dommed to #fail,  Too Many Facebook Hashtags Seriously Hurt Your Brand,  What’s wrong with Facebook hashtags and Hashtags on Facebook Do Nothing To help Additional Exposure, to name but a few. Pessimistic, isn’t it? Some people like them, some people hate them, some people mock them (Martin Scorsese included)What is wrong with Facebook hashtags? Do they really hurt your brand? Are they uneffective? Sotrender decided to check it out.

To start with, hashtags weren’t introduced by Facebook aimlessly. The purpose was to increase the searchability. It was ment to be a new way for people and business to discover and engage in conversations. The question whether people really use them that way unfortunately remains unanswered.

Facebook Hashtags lose popularity?

The truth is, however, that most Facebookwykres2 users love hashtags. We examined a hundred  American and International brands’ pages with over one million fans, among them M&M’s USA,  Pepsi,  Coca-Cola,  Microsoft, Gap and Lexus. According to our analyses, the average number of hashtags per post published by users in May 2014 was equal to 2.5. This means that there was over twice as many hashtags as users’ posts. The numbers are much smaller when it comes to admins’ activity: there were almost 8 times less hashtags in their posts.

Despite this hashtag thriftiness, most Facebook pages use the # symbol. In the three month period March – May 2014 only 6 out of 100 profiles didn’t use this feature. What about previous months? After the introduction of hashtags on Facebook in June 2013, their popularity started to rise really quick. The boom didn’t last long and started to stabilize in August. For some time now, the average number of hashtags per post is on an upward trajectory, however, the changes are quite slow.

Facebook hashtags - average number of hashtags per posts in time

Facebook hashtags – average number of hashtags per posts in time

How about engagement?

Basing on our analyses, we must deny the rumours that posts with hashtags engage fewer users. It is just the opposite – posts without the number sign # engaged  fewer pages’ fans than these with one, two, three and even four hashtags. The use of hashtags is therefore advisable, however, it is important not to overuse them. Restricting the number of Facebook hashtags to four in maximum, will be best practice.

Hashtags on Facebook - average percentage of engaged users of posts with and without hashtags

Hashtags on Facebook – average percentage of engaged users of posts with and without hashtags

Big brands’ marketers are careful when it comes to the use of Facebook hashtags. Admins of 100 pages under examination published over 12 thousands posts in the three month period (March – May 2014) from which none contained more than five hashtags. Furthermore, in the 77% of posts hashtags weren’t included. Although, as seen on previous graph, such hashtag downscaling is not necessary.

As can be seen on the graph below, when it comes to the posts that included hashtags, 78% of them included only one # sign. Two hashtags were used in 18% of admins’ posts, while occurence of posts with more than two hashtags was negligible.

Hashtags on Facebook - number of hashtags used

Hashtags on Facebook – number of hashtags used

Which words should we hashtag?

If we trust in big brands marketers’ skills and want to pattern our page on better, or at least bigger than us, we should follow some rules, based on simple observations. Here is a Facebook hashtags cloud created for analysed pages’ posts from May 2014. Below you can find several tips that are crucial to follow while using Facebook hashtags.

Facebook hashtags - words cloud

Hashtags on Facebook – words cloud

Facebook hashtags tips:

  1. Share Throwback Thursday photos – big brands’ Facebook marketers use a lot of #tbt and #throwbackthursday,
  2. Hashtag words connected with current events – in May big brands used words connected with Cannes Film Festival, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and FIFA World Cup in Brasil,
  3. Create your brand or campaign hashtag or a hashtag with which your brand can be  associated – like Guarana and #édobrasil.

Curious to know what hashtags your competiton useAsk Sotrender Research Team.