Hashtags are the cornerstone of any social media strategy. Across social media channels, the hash symbol is used to reach target audiences and communicate a message. It can consist of a string of unspaced words or a single word, and you can easily think of hashtags as thought topics or content labels. And while most influencers and marketers understand hashtag basics, they don’t always create a concrete strategy around it.
On average, a post that contains a hashtag receives 12.6% more engagement than a post without. Hashtags serve two primary purposes: data organization and reach. By putting more power into the hands of users, companies are also gaining more power. Because users now have the ability to navigate hashtags to structure the data they see, brands are able to reach users that are specifically interested in consuming the type of content they produce.
And yet, one-third of brands on social media aren’t giving hashtags the attention they deserve. To leverage the power of hashtags, it’s time to create a winning strategy. Here are a few tips you should know:
Why Hashtags Are a MUST
Before we dive into our tips, let’s discuss why hashtags are so important and what it can do for your influencer brand. Once you have a grasp on why the why, you’ll be more motivated to follow through on the how.
Hashtag Follow Feeds
Discovery is important for any influencer or agency. Not too long ago, Instagram changed its algorithm to make it possible for users to follow hashtags—rather than just accounts. Posts and stories that use a certain hashtag will be featured in the user’s news feed. Users can then click a hashtag to sift through other posts that include the hashtag. These follow feeds help brands explore a wealth of potential. Additionally, it helps new influencers connect with new followers; with strategic hashtags, you can expose your brand to audiences you may have missed before.
Measure Your Campaign
Hashtags can also help you monitor your campaign performance and take a top-level approach to campaign management. You’ll notice that many companies use branded hashtag campaigns to create conversation and easily monitor engagement. For example, hashtags offer a real-time bird’s eye overview of user-generated content. With just a few clicks, you’d gain valuable insight into how your hashtag has spread and cultivated a community of its own. This offers tremendous potential to expand organic reach.
The more you know about creating an effective hashtag strategy, the more likely you are to create a winning influencer marketing partnership. Any time you work with an influencer, your marketing team should make their job easier. Some influencers will help you come up with hashtags, but it’s best to take a data-driven approach and give them a boost. Influencers are great when it comes to content that drives engagement and reach, but it’s up to you to give them with the tools necessary to power posts.
Call to actions play a crucial role in web design, and it’s fair to say that hashtags can create built-in call to actions. This is because they give users instructions on what to do, even when that “instruction” merely runs along the lines “remember this brand.” Hashtag call to actions encourage users to use those key phrases in a similar way.
In marketing, building trust is a must. Numerous studies have shown that most people trust recommendations from people that they know, which is why influencer marketing has become such an integral part of modern marketing strategies. With hashtags, you’re able to showcase those brand ambassadors, who further propel your campaign.
Five Top Hashtag Tips
Hashtags can help you boost your business in many different ways and build your community. With the right hashtag tips, you’ll be well on your way towards producing content that gets your brand in front of the right audience.
Keep in mind that your hashtag strategy should specifically cater to the platform you’re using. How you approach your hashtags with Instagram might be different than Twitter.
For instance, according to QuickSprout, tweets with hashtags receive 2x more engagement than tweets without them, and the optimal amount of tweets is two.
On the other hand, 11 hashtags is the sweet spot for Instagram, as this is the amount that gets the highest rate of interaction. However, brand consistency across all platforms are what’s most important. With that in mind, take a look at the following hashtag tips:
Listen to Your Audience
The hashtag conversation is a two-way street. Not only can you use hashtags to reach your target audience, but you can also explore hashtags to learn more about them, join in on the conversation, and create well-rounded target personas. For instance, start by finding a hashtag relevant to your brand. In this example, let’s assume we help build van conversions and hope to capitalize on the #vanlife trends.
As you can see, navigating through the top post that appear in this feed help us better understand top users and content types. Sifting through hashtag feeds can also lend some much-needed inspiration for your content strategy. After all, one of the biggest struggles influencers and brands run into is coming up with consistent content that aligns with their aesthetic.
Use a Hashtag Analytics Tool
With the proliferation of hashtags and social media, new analytical dashboards have appeared left and right. Today, you can use hashtag analytics tools to spearhead your entire strategy. After all, as with any campaign, management and measurement are crucial to success. There are several metrics you should be paying attention to. Here are just a few:
Use tools to determine how popular potential hashtags are. This helps you choose the most relevant hashtags that will take your reach the furthest.
It’s not just about what your hashtags are, but who’s using them. Knowing more about the users that are engaging with certain hashtags makes it easier to determine whether you’re reaching the right market.
You don’t just want people using and discovering your hashtags; you also want to know how they’re interacting with them. This means retweeting, sharing, and commenting. How much engagement are your ideal hashtags getting?
Hashtag tools also allow you to spearhead A/B testing to determine what hashtags are best for your business. Just as with any other content efforts, split testing can go a long way. Certain tools, like RiteTag, allow you to gauge which hashtags are high-performing and how those compare to related hashtags.
Even more is that the available data breaks down into deeper analytical details. For example, you’ll be able to see how certain hashtags perform from hour to hour, which helps you determine the best possible posting times.
Create Branded Hashtags
You should always be using the most relevant hashtags to best connect with your audience. Branded hashtags are one of the most effective ways to reach a highly specific audience and for new followers to quickly identify who you are. After all, you don’t want your post appearing in front of users who simply want to trade likes for follows. You want to reach people who are interested in products, services, and organizations like yours. Branded hashtags don’t just have to be the company name. They can also include your company slogan or the name of a product in your lineup.
Monitor Trending Topics
Trending topics engage readers, and when you monitor and follow those trending topics, you’ll learn more about how your campaign strategies should be framed. This is the perfect opportunity for you to engage in real-time and produce relevant content. Trending topics can change quickly, but one thing is certain: it shows you what people care about here and now. Take a look at these trending topics on Twitter. Notice how “Friday” tweets are trending; universal trending topics like this are ideal opportunities for you to jump in on the conversation.
As you monitor different trends, you’ll learn to make a connection between those trending topics and your industry. But remember: don’t force your brand into conversations and topics that aren’t organic. Many brands have had PR fails because they used trending topics (like natural disasters) to join conversations, which will almost always come across as insensitive.
Create Contests & Giveaways
Social media platforms offer a great way to create branded contests and giveaways that act as fuel for your hashtags and grow your following. Social users love a good competition and free goodies—especially when they feel connected to a brand and what that brand can offer.
Anytime you create a contest or giveaway, you build momentum. Contests also give you the ability to encourage user-generated content with your hashtags. The concept is simple: as a part of your contest or giveaway entry rules, you’d request that participants submit photos of their own with your caption. For example, the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest encourages users to create a Lay’s flavor. Since they launched the campaign, the potato chip company has seen a massive boost in followers.
You can drive new customers to your profiles by creating hashtag-driven contests. Conduct a search for “#DoUsAFlavor” and you’ll notice that many users still utilize the hashtag when they have an interesting flavor idea—even when the contest is no longer active.
With the right hashtag tactics, your brand is well on the way to its way to connecting with your target market, expanding your reach, and crafting more effective influencer campaigns. Choosing hashtags might seem fairly straightforward, but the most successful marketing efforts are based on careful, data-driven decisions. Use these tips to help guide you with your future content efforts, and you’re one step closer to reaching your goals.