Facebook Hashtags: How Much is Too Much?

To the delight of marketers, last June Facebook integrated hashtag functionality within posts. We wanted to know how they’re performing. So, from August through September we studied 233,866 posts that included hashtags from 10,000 of the most popular Facebook pages.

Here’s what we found

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Of the posts studied, 32% contained more than one hashtag, with the remaining 158,253 posts using just one hashtag. The below graph shows the average engagement rate of posts using hashtags based on the number of hashtags contained in each post. What we see is that brands receive higher engagement when using fewer hashtags in a post, with somewhere between one and three being the optimum amount.

Our study found that 70,710 different Hashtags were used over the period. The most popular are shown below:

Only two household name brands, Samsung and Nokia, made it into the top 20 hashtags used based on their brand terms. However, plenty of other brand references were found towards the top of the hashtag league table.

A lot of the top hashtags used were related to topical events such as the recent troubles in Egypt, whilst others focused around common topics such as #throwbackthursday and #Backtoschool. Many of these hashtags are used by multiple pages, meaning that their impact is more profound.

Facebook posts with hashtags work

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Facebook hashtags are still finding their place at the moment, however, the data shows that they are being used by some of the most-liked pages around, and that there is engagement with posts that use hashtags. The great news for Facebook is the fact that many of the hashtags being used are around topical events, helping to move Facebook into Twitter’s territory of live, on-the-ground reporting and reaction to events.

This rich new source of data may one day find its way into Facebook’s advertising platform which will be great news for contextual ad targeting, but for now page admins should be aware of the potential of hashtag usage – and that it is worth creating content including hashtags, particularly around time-sensitive events.

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