Let’s talk about hashtag strategies. Despite the popularity across all social media websites, not all businesses are utilizing hashtags to the best of their advantages. What is a hashtag? How does one create a hashtag? What do hashtags mean to a business? 2018 started, and I understand that some people still have some questions about hashtags that they are not asking aloud.
It’s a new year, so what a better time to update hashtag strategies then now – or if you haven’t developed one yet, the time is now to draft it!
What is a hashtag?
Consider a hashtag a keyword with a live link to a feed/catalog of all the people using the same hashtag on that specific platform. The main benefit of adding a hashtag – or the right combination of hashtags, to your content is the exposure of your content and brand to a certain audience.
Types of Hashtags
Before we get into a hashtag strategy, it’s important to understand that there are different types of hashtags.
Branded hashtags are the most unique and least competitive. As a business, this type of hashtag can be a phrase, campaign, or keyword that is unique to your brand identity. A branded hashtag connects brand content and messaging with a business’ audience, so be sure to incorporate these into a post.
Check out Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke as a reference to selecting a branded hashtag that was unique to their product’s feature of “personalized” bottles.
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) December 24, 2017
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) December 20, 2017
Community hashtags increase the reach of a message into a network of like-minded users around a specific subject. The competition is usually low – medium in the number of users and it is a great way to connect with a tribe of potential customers.
The #WeddingPhotographer hashtag is pretty popular in usage, but it does pertain to a certain community of users. This includes of wedding photographers promoting their portfolio or engaged couples in search of photographer or inspiration.
Everyone online isn’t going to automatically know a specific brand or community hashtag, so starting out with a “general hashtag(s)” is wise. General hashtags usually come with a competitive playing field. Your content is not likely to dominate the feed but the potential for extended reach and higher post engagement is possible.
Take the #dog hashtag, for example, it is widely used in Instagram posts featuring a variety of dog breeds and dog related posts. At a grand total of 162 million featured posts, the potential exposure with this popular tag is beneficial but you can count on content getting lost in the mix.
Location hashtags allow a business to be specific because what’s more specific than tagging a piece of content with a deliberate mapped out location? Trends Map.com is a pretty nifty free tool that I’ve come across. It features a map setting that allows you to see the most popular hashtag of a certain city in real time.
Businesses with multiple locations like Ballast Point Brewery can attach the city name to a hashtag to specify content that only is irrelevant to that location.
Event or Celebration Hashtags
Celebration and event hashtags are awesome if you are looking to join a trending conversation and be part of a larger moment. These are my personal favorite kinds of hashtags, because you can converse and celebrate in real time with a mainstream of users from all over the world.
What do you get when you gather 12 pizza traders together in one place? Only our first EVER #NationalPizzaDay party at #HawkerHouse – You don't want to miss this one 👉 https://t.co/X2LflGxLhU @FoodismUK pic.twitter.com/6L6lrFR84I
— Street Feast (@StreetFeastLDN) January 6, 2018
The trick as a brand is to make sure you aren’t trying too hard … nobody likes a party/event crasher that attempts to solicit their business/products. Event and celebration hashtags are purely fun and engaging, if you aren’t up for that then it’s best to sit back.
How to Find the best Hashtags
Research Your Audience
It is easy to use the most popular hashtags, but my main advice is to keep your keywords as relevant to what social users are searching for on each platform. Find out what hashtags your audience is using and take notice of the hashtags that fit best with your brand and content.
For Instagram, you can use your “tagged photos” from users to view what hashtags they use when they are mentioning your brand. If you have a budget you can also invest in a social media listening platform to tracking what words, keywords, and hashtags user are attaching to you.
Research Your Competitors
Besides checking out what hashtags your current audiences use in association with your brand, it’s a smart move to also research your competitors as well. Find out what general and specific hashtags they include in their posts first, then consider adding a few to your list as a secondary hashtag in posts that focus on your unique brand positioning.
If you aren’t already following the top social influencers within your industry, please take the time to follow some peeps during this research period! If you aren’t familiar with what a social influencer is, these social media users with a high number of followers and top engaging content – the content they produce garner influence because of their quality rapport with their following.
These are some of my favorite beauty influencers that are quite active on social media!
Every industry has a group of top influencers, as a business, it is for your best interest to find out who they are, connect to build a relationship, and support their content to ride their trendy wave. Discover top influencers and add in relevant hashtags to your content/hashtag grouping.
Find Popular Related Hashtags
Discovering trending hashtags is an easy way to group your hashtag(s) and your community together. There are a couple of ways to discover what other popular hashtags are being used with yours.
On Instagram, you can start typing out a hashtag in the search bar to see what other hashtags pop up next to it.
Then there are websites that find and analyze popular hashtags and other hashtags that relate. To know which hashtags are popular is beneficial in increasing a brand’s reach. Check out Hashtagify!
Display Purpose is a favorite of mine for Instagram hashtags because after you type in a few into the search box, relevant hashtags will appear automatically for you to past into Instagram. Bonus, the hashtag suggestions filter out all banned and spammy tags!
Generating a Hashtag Bank/Grouping
Now that you know the various hashtags that exist and how to find them, I would recommend keeping a bank of hashtags to pull from.
If you have an active content calendar, reviewing which social content has best performed and which hashtags you leveraged within the caption is a good place to start. This document can include the hashtags, content category, date, and caption.
From there you can gather insight on what hashtags could have contributed to higher engagement and/or discoverability (Instagram business accounts now have this info), and provide recommendations of primary and secondary hashtags.
Segment your hashtag strategies
Just like how in marketing it’s vital to segment different creative, messaging, and topics per audience grouping, it’s also vital to segment various hashtags per target audience.
I cannot stress the need for relevancy enough when it comes to attaching hashtags to content – nobody wants to be scrolling through a foodie hashtag feed and see posts including content with photos from an Instagram lace wig business.
An easy way to do this is by first drafting out your content buckets or social platform recommendation within your social media strategy and then add in a subsection of primary hashtags based on platform and audience or content bucket topics and platform audience.
Tracking performance and reporting
Don’t forget to keep track of your hashtag efforts! Whether a hashtag is associated with a specific campaign or used to measure share of voice within the social realm, it’s always wise to monitor and review the hashtag/content data that is relevant to your social reporting.
If you happen to have software like Simply Measured, NUVI, Crimson Hexagon, you can set up listening monitors that focus on a hashtag or hashtag grouping. Be sure to set up these monitors before the campaign or initiative starts so you can measure chatter pre, during, and post.
The option for those who are managing content and reporting manually, you can always export data straight from the platform as an excel workbook. Using Excel’s “find” tool, segment posts and post data to better understand the performance of your own content.
That’s all that I have for now, but more guides on social media are on their way! This is a skillset and specialization that is a growing interest in my career aspirations and I want to continue to learn and share whatever I can. If there is anything that you would want to learn more about, drop a line in my inbox. Or if you have some hashtag tips of your own to add in, let me know! Curiousli.com is all about not being afraid to build up knowledge and experiences.