In this guide, we will explore 27 actionable hashtag analytics strategies. We will also document case studies to show how business flourish by implementing these strategies.
By following the actionable strategies in this guide, you’ll learn how to make use of proper hashtags, hashtag analytics, and hashtag tracking tools.
Before we get into the strategies, let’s refresh our memory about hashtags and the benefits hashtags have on businesses.
So, let’s dive in.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is the use of a hash (#) symbol in front of a keyword in a social media post.
Hashtags make a post discoverable by other users who are browsing or searching for that hashtag.
Basically, it’s an easy way to categorize your post or associate your post with a trend.
While hashtags originated on Twitter in 2007, they have slowly spread to every other popular social network on the planet—so it’s important to understand all their possible uses.
Related guide: Hashtags: A Beginner’s Guide and How to Use them Effectively
What are the benefits of using hashtags?
When used effectively, hashtags can boost your business tremendously.
Hashtags are a rare win-win for businesses and their customers.
Hashtags make it easier for users to find content they like, and they make it easier for businesses to get content in front of their customers.
So what’s in it for you?
There are 5 main benefits for businesses from using hashtags:
1. Increase brand awareness
By using hashtags strategically in your posts, you can expose your business’s content to new audiences – even if you don’t have many followers.
Targeting a highly relevant hashtag to your brand can help you garner immediate attention from a very specific demographic.
2. Increase engagement
Hashtags make you part of the conversation.
By jumping in to conversations on popular hashtags, you can have real-time conversations with your audience, solidifying a personality behind your brand, post by post.
Or, to further solidify your brand to your followers, you can create a brand hashtag to get people talking about you.
3. Learn about your audience
Hashtags are a two-way street.
Not only do they help you speak to an audience, they also let you listen in on the conversation.
By listening in on a popular hashtag, you can easily create audience personas for your business.
Find a hashtag relevant to your business and ask yourself:
What demographics are using that hashtag? What are their interests on social media? What type of content do they like?
4. Inform your content strategy
Lacking creative inspiration for your content?
By checking out trending hashtags or hashtags niche to your business, you can learn what content people actually want to consume.
You can take those learnings and apply them to your overall content strategy, both online and offline.
5. Generate new leads
Ultimately, more brand awareness and higher quality content is going to lead to more website visits or foot traffic to your business.
By using a hashtag analytics tool like Keyhole, you can monitor the success of your brand on social media in real time—ultimately learning what appeals to your customers.
Now we know what hashtags are and the benefits it has on businesses. So, let’s jump in to the strategies.
27 Hashtag Strategies to Grow Your Business
Here’s how to carry out a full front-to-back hashtag analytics strategy to bring more leads to your business.
Hashtag Research Tips
The first step to an effective hashtag strategy is to conduct thorough research in advance.
The objective here is to identify existing hashtags that present the biggest opportunity for your business long-term.
Of course, trends can change quickly, but you’ll see the most success with a long-term, adaptable strategy.
1. Choose a hashtag analytics tool
To get started, you’ll need to choose a hashtag analytics tool.
To help you choose, we’ve written a guide to the top 15 hashtag analytics tools.
The two main factors to consider when choosing a hashtag tracking tool are the feature set and—of course—the price.
For this post, we’ll be featuring our own tool, the Keyhole Advanced Analytics Suite, but this strategy can be carried out using any robust tracking service.
2. Set up a hashtag tracker
If you’re running a social media account, you likely already have a few popular hashtags in mind that you’d like to track.
Using your hashtag tracking tool, set up a real-time tracker for 2-3 keywords you’re interested in exploring.
Use these starting hashtags as the base for your research.
3. Uncover trending and related topics
Using your hashtag tracker, explore related hashtags and keywords related to your base keywords.
Make a list of the hashtags or keywords that are most relevant to your business.
At this stage, don’t be too selective. This is similar to a brainstorming session. The objective is to find out which keywords or hashtags present the biggest opportunity for your brand.
4. Find Your Niche
You can’t just post any hashtag and expect results.
If you post on a top trending topic, you may be drowned out within minutes. If you post on a hashtag nobody uses, your posts will fall on deaf ears.
Find your niche. Your goal is to strike a balance between popularity and potential impact.
Using your list of keywords from step 3, identify keywords that tend to have higher engagement and reach, but fewer posters.
Using this strategy, choose a handful of keywords that you will use consistently to bring the most reach and engagement for your brand.
5. Identify Top Posts & Content
With your chosen hashtag and topics, use your tracking tool and browse each social platform to identify the posts that get the most engagement.
Note any trends about what makes a good post.
Are they using humor? Are they more inspirational? Are they informational?
Also note the type of media that’s most popular.
If they’re using images, what kind? Are they graphics, animations, or photos?
If they’re using video, what makes the video successful? Are they shorter or longer? Do they make use of captions? Is the video studio-quality or more casual?
And here’s a key piece of advice:
Don’t fight a battle you can’t win.
If the only popular content on a certain hashtag is outside your company’s skillset or budget, look for a hashtag whose content is more similar to what you have the capacity to produce.
But don’t let this scare you away—many top posts are nothing more than cleverly written text.
6. Use historical data
Don’t forget to look both at recent timeframes and historical data.
Yes, you want to be on-trend with your content, but you shouldn’t ignore what has worked for other brands in the past.
7. Know your social media platform
There are subtle differences between how hashtags are used on each popular platform.
And not only are there differences platform to platform, different industries use each platform differently.
On Twitter, where text is more limited, using 1-3 hashtags results in the highest engagement.
On Instagram and Pinterest, you should use 10-20 hashtags to maximize your reach.
Facebook hashtags aren’t as effective, sure they make it clickable but it isn’t as effective as instagram and twitter.
LinkedIn has recently introduced the capability for users to follow hashtags, making hashtag use an even better way to boost your LinkedIn content.
Be sure to research how your industry makes best use of each platform.
8. Track your top hashtags
Once you’ve identified which hashtags matter most to your business, set up trackers in your tracking tools for your chosen hashtags.
Be sure to set up trackers for your branded hashtags too. Don’t have a branded hashtag yet? Don’t worry, that’s next on our list!
Branded Hashtag Tips
Having a strong branded hashtag that catches on is an incredible way to boost your engagement.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your brand.
9. Create a brand hashtag
To properly brand your business’s posts, you’ll need a branded hashtag.
Here are a few tips for creating a branded hashtag:
Keep it short – Make it easy for your consumers to type.
Example: Visit New Orleans’s hashtag, #OneTimeInNOLA, uses the city’s abbreviation rather than the full name.
Make it memorable – The catchier the hashtag, the easier it is to remember.
Example: Nike’s hashtag #JustDoIt uses its already-famous company slogan.
Make it easy to spell – Avoid long words or alternate spellings.
Example: Even though Lululemon’s branded hashtag, #TheSweatLife, is a play on “the sweet life,” it’s still short, memorable, and easy to spell.
Don’t be too literal – Branded hashtags are more effective when they’re not your exact brand name.
Example: Goodyear’s hashtag #MoreDriven. While it’s related to tires and driving, the hashtag is meant to be used by basketball teams sponsored by Goodyear.
Make it actionable – Make it obvious to your consumers what they’re meant to do with your hashtag. And make it something that people will actually want to use.
Example: Target’s hashtag #TargetRun encourages consumers to post every time they visit Target.
Research it first – Use a hashtag analytics tool or browse the hashtag on every platform to make sure you aren’t competing with another brand, or accidentally misusing a preexisting hashtag.
Once you’ve chosen your branded hashtag, be sure to use it consistently on every post, and use it in each of your social profile bios.
10. Create a hashtag for every event and campaign
While it’s key to use your main brand hashtag consistently (as long as it’s successful), you should also use a separate hashtag for each of your separate campaigns and events.
Using a separate hashtag for each campaign has two main benefits: it makes it easier for your audience to follow along or participate, and it also makes it easier for you to track the success of each campaign.
Further reading: 5 Best Christmas Hashtag Campaigns with tips on how to run an event hashtag campaign
11. Promote your hashtag
Once you’ve established your campaign’s hashtag, promote it! Offer contests and giveaways that encourage your consumers to use the hashtag.
For example, for halloween Oreo started #OreoHorrorStory by parodying scenes from horror movies such as The Shining, The Exorcist, and Frankestein.
12. Track each of your hashtags
For each of your branded hashtags, make sure you add them to your hashtag analytics tracker.
Tips for Using Non-Branded Hashtags
Just because you have your own branded hashtags doesn’t mean you should ignore other hashtags. Here’s how to take advantage of popular trends.
13. Post about real-time trending topics and hashtags
If you see a trend taking off that relates to your business, engage with it by using the hashtag.
Using trending hashtags gives you the potential to reach a massive audience that may not be familiar with your brand yet.
14. Post on lifestyle and niche hashtags
By using hashtags that are commonly associated with a certain lifestyle, you can immediately have your brand associated with a particular feeling, emotion, or vibe.
Explore lifestyle hashtags that are popular with your demographic to find the right hashtags for your business.
For example, using #MondayMotivation would be a great way to associate your brand with the self-improvement trend.
15. Post only on relevant hashtags
But be careful:
Just because a hashtag is popular doesn’t mean you should use it.
Posting irrelevant content on a popular trend is an easy way to label your brand as inauthentic or trying too hard.
And most importantly: never spam trending hashtags.
Posting a large number of posts on trending hashtags in a short period of time is a recipe for getting your accounts banned.
16. Consider every angle before using a hashtag
Even if you have a relevant post for a trending or lifestyle hashtag, consider every angle.
Are there any risks associated with posting on that hashtag? Does the hashtag have a double meaning you may not be aware of? Could the hashtag be considered offensive to your audience?
Always think twice before diving in to a trend.
17. Use a reasonable number of hashtags
As we mentioned above, tailor your hashtag use to the platform. Sometimes less is more.
On Twitter, stick to a maximum of 3 hashtags.
On Facebook – 0 hashtags. It’s not as effective to use hashtags in Facebook even though Facebook makes it clickable. Matter of fact, post without hashtags perform better than with it.
On Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, posts with more hashtags tend to get more interactions.
18. Use local or regional hashtags
Not every post you make has to apply to a global audience.
If you’re a local business, use your city’s local hashtags to build awareness locally.
Even if you’re not confined to a single market, using local hashtags in your target cities, states/provinces, or countries can be a great opportunity for additional engagement.
19. Post great content
Above all else: post great content.
It doesn’t matter how sophisticated your hashtag strategy is if what you’re posting isn’t interesting, funny, informative, or inspiring.
Make only content that your consumers will love.
20. Interact and engage
Social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it, one-way communication channel.
If people are using your branded hashtags, reply to the posts. By replying, you’re validating your audience’s choice to use your hashtag.
That goes for both positive and negative posts. It’s certainly more fun to respond to positive sentiments, but it’s also important to earnestly respond to complaints with genuine concern.
And don’t be afraid to jump into conversations on unbranded hashtags too. Participating in real conversation is a great way to show off your brand’s personality.
Bonus tip: This process can be made much easier with a social listening or hashtag tracking tool.
With a social listening tool like Keyhole, you can create real-time feeds of conversations taking place on your favorite hashtags across multiple platforms, allowing you to strike while the iron’s hot.
Related guide: Using Popular Hashtags To Grow Your Business
How to Use Hashtags to Identify Influencers
Nothing resonates more with an audience than social proof.
Posts from key influencers act as a vote of confidence for your brand, and can spread your reach to a highly targeted audience.
That’s why social media influencers have become a billion-dollar industry.
Here’s how to use hashtag analytics tools to capitalize on the trend.
21. Use a hashtag analytics tool to identify influencers
Using a hashtag tracking tool like Keyhole, you can pull statistics on the biggest influencers in your industry.
For any given hashtag, you can see which influencers are posting the most often or have the most reach, engagements, or impressions.
Using Keyhole’s dedicated Influencers metrics, you can also filter potential influencers based on their location or keywords used in their bios.
22. Manage and track influencers
Once you’ve reached out to the influencers that present the biggest opportunity for your brand, you can manage your inventory of influencers using Keyhole’s Influencer Management Tools.
Keyhole’s tools let you see all of your influencers on one dashboard, allowing you to measure their individual impact and who is providing the most ROI to your business.
23. Identify websites and online publications
Monitoring hashtags also allows you to identify websites or publications that are most often posting about your target subject.
Using Keyhole, look for relevant content to your brand and look for journalists or authors who may be willing to write about your product.
This is a great way to generate backlinks to your website, boosting your SEO and search engine success.
Measure the Success of Your Hashtags
Once you’ve had your campaigns up and running, it’s time to measure your success and brand influence.
24. Track your reach on a regular basis
Keep tabs on your typical engagement rate, reach, and impressions.
We recommend adding a timeslot to your personal calendar to check in on your metrics either daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on how active you are on social media.
25. Optimize your posting
The success of your posts will depend on when you post them. Keyhole’s social media account analytics tools allow you to track the optimal times and days to post.
Over a long enough timeframe, you’ll start to see which times generate the most engagements with your posts.
26. Note what type of content works best
Keyhole will show you your top posts by likes, retweets, or other engagement metrics. Go through your posts and identify what made them special.
Keep an ongoing list of factors that influence the success of a post and consult them every time you’re planning your social calendar.
27. Keep learning about your audience
You may think you know your audience, but how well do you really know them?
By tracking your hashtags and social accounts on Keyhole, you can monitor several different audience dimensions.
You can break your audience down by gender to get a sense of who’s engaging with your posts.
You can also break your audience down by geographical location.
If you’re not hitting your target area, consider posting more location-specific content to those regions to try to break in to the market.
Finally, you can also track the overall sentiment of posts related to your tracked brand or hashtag.
Benefits of tracking hashtags.
By now, you should understand how important it is to integrate hashtags into your social media strategy.
So what are the main benefits to tracking hashtag analytics?
- Measure brand awareness by tracking impressions and engagement on your brand hashtag.
- Measure the direct success of events or marketing campaign hashtags.
- Manage your brand or industry’s reputation by tracking the positive and negative mentions containing your target hashtags.
- Track trending topics in your industry.
- Monitor your brands and your competitors in your industry.
- Find influencers and potential brand ambassadors relevant to your business.
Case Studies – How using Keyhole will grow your business
Let’s look at a few real-world examples of hashtag success in action.
Case Study #1 – How theChive used Keyhole to track their branded hashtags
theChive, a Men’s Lifestyle digital platform, has 20 million people engaging with their brand every month, either on their website or on social media.
Tracking that at a large scale is a monumental task.
For one of their sponsored events, a national beer pong tournament, they needed to track 50 individual hashtags for each state.
“We were tracking 50 different hashtags & figuring out who’s in the lead at each state in real-time. We would update it throughout the week to know who’s most likely to win. Without Keyhole, tracking this many hashtags would’ve been impossible, so that’s where our partnership started.” –Jill Broek, Director of Brand Strategy.
See our full story about theCHIVE for more details.
Case Study #2 – How PROJECT 375 uses Keyhole to track the conversation around mental health
PROJECT 375, a non-profit organization focused on reducing the stigma around mental health, uses Keyhole for social listening.
They use Keyhole to track trending news stories, celebrity posts, and new studies focused on promoting a positive dialogue around mental health.
Using Keyhole, they’re also able to track their own success.
“Keyhole is my go-to for all things analytics. Knowing our audience, their likes and dislikes, the kinds of content they prefer and the times they are looking at us is mission critical. I am constantly looking at the data to see what patterns emerge and the different ways we can tweak our strategies to best serve our supporters. Social media is ever-changing and Keyhole gives us the ability to change in lockstep with the latest trends and audience preferences,”– Erica Jellerson, Communications & Events Manager, PROJECT 375.
For the full story on PROJECT 375, check out this full case study.
Related case studies:
- How Arizona State University Uses Keyhole to Help PBS Journalists and Students Become Authorities in Trending Topics
- How HerCampus uses Keyhole Reports to Show Sponsors the Real Reach of their Events
So are you tracking your Hashtags?
Once you have a front-to-back hashtag strategy in place, you’ll see far more success out of your social media campaigns.
By using a hashtag analytics tool to track your brand awareness, key influencers, and trending topics, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to create perfectly optimized campaigns—uncovering a new audience and increasing your lead generation.
Ready to get your #hashtagstrategy started?
Start your free trial with Keyhole’s social media monitoring tool today.