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While using hashtags in Facebook posts might be a fun tactic for brands trying to engage consumers, it doesn't appear to be paying off, a new study finds.
Research from social media analytics firm Simply Measured revealed that while 20 percent of Facebook posts among top brands now include hashtags (which give users a way to group messages of similar content), there is no evidence that hashtags are influencing engagement.
The study shows that posts with hashtags —a new feature added with in the last several months — perform as well as those without, suggesting that people are not yet discovering brand posts by their tags.
Overall, the study shows nearly all of the companies in the Interbrand 100 — which ranks businesses based on financial status — now have a Facebook fan page, with 60 percent posting something at least once a day.
The research revealed that visual content is by far the primary driver for engagement on Facebook. Photos posted by top brands average more than 9,400 engagements, which includes likes, comments and shares, per post, while video posts average more than 2,500.
When it comes to text posts, brands must walk a fine line. Analysis of more than 500 status updates from the top brands shows that the longer a status update is, the less engagement it typically receives. However, if a status update is too short — less than 50 characters — it may not be long enough to capture viewers’ attention or provide the necessary context to drive the number of likes, shares and comments a brand would like.
"For most brands, Facebook is no longer just a network; it has become the hub of their social marketing efforts and one of the most effective ways to engage with fans," said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of Simply Measured. "This latest research once again proves that knowing your audience, understanding your content assets and measuring your efforts are extremely important to develop the social strategies that will work best for you."
Businesses that limit Facebook fans from writing on their page might want to reconsider their strategy. The research shows that nearly 30 percent of top brands do not allow users to post on their wall. For those brands, user engagement on their page is limited to likes, comments and shares, resulting in 15 percent less engagement than brands that do allow user posts.
When it comes to drawing the most Facebook fans, no one does it better than Facebook itself. The social media giant claims the top spot with 93 million fans, followed by Coca-Cola and MTV.