The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Hashtaggers

Mastering hashtag use on social media is an easy way to increase brand exposure and engagement. By categorizing posts under a keyword or phrase, you allow your brand’s valuable content to be indexed by social media networks. This leads to faster discovery by a wider audience.

Best of all, hashtag marketing costs nothing more than the time needed to learn a few do’s and don’ts.

Dive in with seven highly effective strategies.

1. Stop “Random Acts of Hashtagging”

    Hashtags should be more than quippy, parenthetical thoughts – or, as is more often the case, a total afterthought. The purpose of a hashtag is to connect people interested in your event, topic, or brand with the information you’re posting. So, don’t wing it. Post intentionally.

    As hashtag inventor Chris Messina says, “The tags that trend or appear popular in search results drive participation, awareness, and, as a consequence, shape the contents of millions of people’s thoughts.” If you want to rise to the top of the feed, you’ll need to organize a thoughtful approach.

    2. Research and Choose Well-Defined Hashtags

      It may be tempting to slap on any old descriptor, but hang tight. To find a hashtag that will actually engage your targeted audience, you need to do some research.

      First, know the difference between generic and branded tags. As Social Media Week advises, “If you opt for generic hashtags such as #marketing, #seo or something like #fashion and expect people to see and interact with your post, think again. Most likely your post will be lost amongst 1000’s of other generic posts using the same hashtags – it’ll be like trying to find a needle in a haystack!”

      Instead, “Try hunting down hashtags in social media that have a smaller, but more fine-tuned focus, ones that are appropriate for your brand content. The hashtag business is a little like keyword research, it’s all about finding the right hashtag that fits your business with a realistic audience size you can tap into.”

      Social listening is a good place to start. Take a look at how existing fans are interacting. Identify themes within trending hashtags. Observe what’s working (or not working) for your competitors.

      In our experience, viral hashtags are precise, memorable, and directly related to the topic. Think of Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke, Calvin Klein’s #mycalvins, and MasterCard’s #pricelessgolf. On the flip side, hashtags that are too wordy or obscure don’t gain much traction, so try to keep messaging simple and relevant.

      3. Use Hashtags in Different Ways

        Using a branded hashtag when posting information like product announcements and promotions is good practice. Don’t stop there, though. You can expand reach dramatically by using campaign-specific hashtags, too.

        Need ideas? Uber grew its base by highlighting exceptional customer service through the #BeyondFiveStars social media campaign. Visa successfully built community around the 2019 Winter Olympics through #TeamVisa posts, featuring the company’s sponsored athletes. The International House of Pancakes sparked massive engagement with those famous #IHOb tweets. And numerous other brands use catchy hashtags -- like Charmin’s cheeky #tweetfromtheseat – to invite fans to enter contests, sweepstakes, or giveaways.

        For maximum visibility, you may even want to incorporate multiple tags. Marketer Jenn Herman describes four major hashtag categories:

        • - Content hashtags that refer directly to the topics in the post
        • - Industry hashtags that may not be directly related to the post’s content but are specific to the industry and clients you serve
        • - Niche hashtags specific to the target audience
        • - Branded hashtags that you regularly use to showcase and tag your content

        While heavier hashtag use may be best reserved for platforms like Instagram (more on that later), the idea to reach beyond existing fans and attract a new following.

        4. Capitalize on Trending Topics

          If you think you know what’s popular on social media, chances are it changed five minutes ago. Fortunately, most social media networks make it easy to check trending hashtags. Both Twitter and Facebook display these topics prominently on home pages. There are also a number of monitoring tools like Trendsmap and Hashtagify.

          If you want to be known as a brand that “gets it” – that’s at the forefront of new trends – keep an eye on the day’s hot topics. When you see something that relates to what you do, jump in with relevant content. Posting with a trending hashtag puts your brand in front of a huge audience. And if your post is funny, informative, or eye-catching, social media stardom may be just a few shares away.

          5. Don’t Overdo It

            Warning. The fastest way to make your brand look annoying or spammy is to hashtag too much.

            “The number of hashtags that can be used depends on which platform you’re using, but in most cases one or two hashtags have more impact than a high number of them,” As Lesley Vos says, "once the audience sees an expert in you, their loyalty and your conversion rocket sky-high. So here go the content types you can post in business social media accounts to create the status of an expert."

            Sure enough, research shows that using more than two hashtags in a Facebook post tends to create a dip in engagement. But keep it to 1 – 2 hashtags, and Twitter posts get an average of 21% more engagement.

            The big exception to this rule is Instagram. The platform is built to emphasize visual content, so hashtags aren’t as “in your face” as with other networks. In fact, Instagram is generously configured to allow up to 30 hashtags per post. Still, the sweet spot for generating the highest level of engagement is lower – typically around 11 tags.

            Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are newer to the hashtag game, so there may be room for experimentation there. But whatever the network, make sure you’re not forcing hashtags where they don’t belong. As the Digital Marketing Institute suggests, “Only use them when they add value to your post and are likely to stimulate conversation and interaction.”

            6. Measure Reach with Analytics

              Hashtag campaigns may be the hottest strategy in social media marketing, but how will you know if you’re doing it right? To determine a hashtag’s success, brand managers need to monitor key performance indicators. Analytics like post popularity, follower demographics, and engagement rates all provide actionable insight to ensure you’re getting the best results possible.

              Remember, effective campaigns should inspire social media users to interact with your brand, so you’ll want to look at the number of mentions a hashtag receives. That’s usually a good indicator of whether posts are resonating with consumers.

              You should also see an increase in followers as the hashtag gains momentum. To gauge just how many eyes are on the brand, compare website and social media views before a hashtag launch and after. As users begin interacting and sharing content, that buzz should translate into greater visibility.

              7. Capture and Display Content Elsewhere, Too!

                Many people put social media marketing in a box, leaving valuable user-generated content lingering on the networks. That’s a rookie mistake. The best brands leverage hashtag content as social proof, incorporating UGC into e-commerce, live events, and visual marketing.

                Turns out, UGC is what consumers crave. In fact, 85% say authentic fan photos, videos, and testimonials are more influential than a brand’s own promotional content. That’s why showcasing fan loyalty on landing pages, social hubs, and even the check-out process is the most credible advertising a brand can do.

                TwineSocial’s aggregation engine makes it possible for brand managers to scan all major social media networks for desired hashtag content and import those posts into a customized dashboard. Rules and filters make it easy to route specific UGC to relevant areas of a website, while moderation tools ensure messaging stays on target. The result is a lively social gallery that’s packed with peer-driven inspiration and information.

                Integrating UGC into brand outreach is a quick way to turn hashtag campaigns into conversion machines, and it’s a strategy that works for heritage brands and start-ups alike. For more ideas on how to deploy UGC, check out the “8 Brilliant Ways to Use Hashtag Content” and enjoy a free trial of TwineSocial today.    

                For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

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