Hashtags continue to be an effective ways for marketers to increase audience awareness on social channels, and build excitement along with viral content that reaches beyond your marketing office. On Instagram, for example, posts that include at least one hashtag increase audience engagement by more than 12%.
Of course, simply adding hashtags to each of your posts will not reliably lead to success. Instead, you need to approach the concept strategically, ensuring that the hashtag adds to, not takes away from your social media marketing efforts.
Generally speaking, marketers use hashtags in one of two ways: to add their voice to conversations not related to their brand, and to initiate their own conversation and maximize their brand reach over time. The former requires linking into trending topics, and is explained in this post. The latter requires finding a hashtag that actually enhances your efforts. Here are 5 steps to finding the best hashtags for your social media campaign.
1) Understand Your Goal
What exactly do you want and need your hashtag to do? Is it simply a way to tie together a series of tweets and posts, or are you seeking action from your audience?
The answer to that question helps determine the type of phrase you need. A simple branding hashtag is more easily compiled than more action-oriented alternatives, though both are possible. Know exactly what you need before moving forward.
2) Compile an Initial List
Knowing your goal, it’s time to come up with an initial list of which hashtags might work. At this point, it’s not important to be perfect – simply brainstorm, perhaps with multiple people, on potential alternatives.
Follow only a few guidelines: it needs to be able to combine into one word (hashtags don’t allow spaces), though you can use capitalization to separate words. You should also keep your potential hashtag relatively short, ideally around 6 characters. Once you have come up with 10-20 alternatives, move on to the next step.
3) Spot-Check With Influencers
Hashtags will only be successful if someone other than you begins to use them. Take your initial list to influencers (such as company officials and high-impact customers), and ask for their opinions on which ones they would be most likely to share.
You can even do the same thing online by posting a few one-of updates with the potential hashtags, and seeing which performs best. Narrow your list down to 3 options, ranked by popularity.
4) Perform a Negative Test
If you want your hashtag to be associated with your campaign, the worst thing that could happen is irrelevant tweets already using it. So before going live, make sure that it is absolutely unique, and not already used elsewhere. #svc, for example, may stand for Saint Vincent College, but is also frequently used to highlight service-oriented posts.
5) Analyze and Adjust
Even following all of the above steps, of course, will not always result in success. Sometimes, even the most well-planned efforts do not pan out. That’s why it’s always crucial to analyze your social media efforts, and adjust if necessary.
Tweetreach, for example, allows marketers to track (for free) how individual tweets are performing. Simply by adding a custom hashtag that you created using the steps above, you can show the reach and strength of that hashtag to see whether you have made a tangible difference. If you have not, it may be time to find an alternative.
Hashtags should play a core role in your social media marketing efforts. But are you using them strategically and in a way that actually enhances your efforts? The above steps ensure that you do, helping you build a strategy that will grow your brand awareness and benefit your business.
To learn more about how to effectively implement hashtags into your social media posts, give us a call or send us a note today at Small Dog Creative 661-702-1310!