Over the years, the use of hashtags has evolved. Popularised by social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, hashtags are generally believed to make content more discoverable by search engines. However, on Facebook, they may actually hinder search rankings.

Facebook began using hashtags in June 2013 in an effort to make the vast amount of data the platform processes everyday more searchable. They even developed a platform search engine called Graph Search and encouraged advertisers to use hashtags in their posts.

Graph Search was unfortunately littered with issues. Too much personal information became available via the hashtag system, Mark Zuckerburg himself admitted 12 months after the release of Graph Search stating that the system did not work. Whilst marketers found Graph Search hugely beneficial, the general public were not happy with how much of their information was being shared. As a result, Facebook gradually implemented measures to keep personal information more private.

Less than a year after Facebook’s introduction of hashtags, Edgerank conducted a study of 35,000 Facebook posts. They found that only 6000, or 17%, used hashtags, a vastly different figure compared with Twitter, where using hashtags doubled retweets by roughly 50%.

According to a CNET, who investigated Edgerank’s findings, posts using hashtags actually have a poorer performance than posts that have no hashtags at all. A Facebook spokesperson stated that the company’s algorithms now look for quality content rather than hashtags.

Hashtags are still being used on Facebook, often with some success. Before launching a marketing campaign, researching the right words and how the platform uses them is critical. You should monitor the performance of your posts and decide for yourself whether hashtags work for your Facebook marketing.

Facebook Insights, is a valuable tool which can help you determine how effective hashtags are in your campaigns, and the level of impact they are having. A final note is about quantity. Although Facebook does not limit how many can be included in a post, too many will definitely penalise the content in searches. According to Socialbakers.com, using 1 or 2 per post is definitely enough.