In June of this year, Facebook took a page out of Twitter’s playbook and announced they would make hashtags (#) clickable. This meant that anyone could add a hashtag to a post, and it would be added to a clickable news stream of posts with that same hashtag.
The concept works brilliantly on Twitter, where trending news and social commentary is shared at the speed of light among relative strangers. It’s also allowed brands to engage with customers and troubleshoot problems in real time by monitoring hashtagged tweets relevant to their company.
Many brands got all excited about Facebook’s announcement and began using the # there much the same way they would on Twitter, expecting a good viral reach and better discoverability.
How are Hashtags Working?
Not well, according to a new study by digital analysts Edge Rank Checker who found that posts that contained hashtags showed decreased viral reach than those without.
While the intention behind adding hashtags may have been solid (according to NextWeb, Facebook aimed to help users “add context and discover shared interests”) the concept doesn’t seem to fly in a social network where users are already grouped around shared interests (i.e. family and friends).
Add to that the potential for overzealous hashtagging by brands looking for a viral boost, and the hashtags simply didn’t work on Facebook.
#WhatWeLearned — What works on one social network may not be right idea for another. It’s a good reminder that the message must be crafted to the channel and the audience, every time.