Approx. read time : 11 min
If you’re familiar with social media, you may have come across hashtags in the past. Introduced to Twitter in 2007, they’ve exploded across most social media platforms in the years since and are used by hundreds of thousands of people daily, whether that’s to surf the web for media on a particular interest, share the content they find with others or interact with businesses on an informal and rapid basis.
Many businesses now encourage customers to reach out using established Hashtags, giving any number of consumers, potential buyers and others an easy, free and time-efficient way to make contact with a business regarding anything they like. Some have used the platform for publicity stunts and Q&A sessions, others to share extra media or interesting facts regarding their ethics or origins, and even more utilize them to spread awareness of their business, sales and products.
Digital marketing has come to rely heavily on Hashtags in recent years, but what exactly do they do for a company and why should you track their performance? In this article, we’ll discuss in more depth what a Hashtag is, what it can do for a company, the most common pitfalls when deciding upon Hashtags to use for your company and finally, how data analytics can boost the performance of your chosen Hashtags and by extension, grow your business.
What is a Hashtag?
Much like keywords and slogans traditionally used in marketing, a Hashtag is a word or two that is memorable and easy to type, often containing the company name or their slogan predated by a hash symbol. You’ve likely seen the blue tags beneath posts on Twitter or Facebook; these tags are automatically highlighted and when clicked, effectively groups content a consumer may wish to see by linking to a feed for that specific Hashtag.
Digital age marketing is complex and diverse, but Hashtags draw it all together effortlessly with an efficient, universal tagline. Having the same hashtag as other articles makes your newer one scream: ‘Hey! Look at me, too!’ It brings content from all over, together.
An example of this would be a large corporation such as Subway ending a Tweet, press release or more traditional advertising on television or billboards with an iteration of: “#EatFresh”. As an established tagline, the tag reminds consumers of the business even if they weren’t engaged with the ad and brings forth memories of products, including their impression of the company, is universally recognized as being associated with Subway and reiterates a focus of their ethics to “eat fresh” using positive imagery of their fresh vegetables in the store.
The Effects of Hashtags on Marketing
Once the hashtag is established, consumers can also use the same hashtag to stay in contact with a company, offer their feedback or make complaints, interact with a social media exclusive giveaway or share your posts with the same tag, bringing in more potential customers. Hashtags provide rapid, potent and effective interaction with current and potential consumers alike, not only driving sales and feedback but phishing your business to greater heights.
May it be Twitter, Facebook or any platform between, Hashtags link your business with your consumers in greater depth than ever before. Not using them leaves a potential shortfall in the customer base you could achieve, limiting your business’ potential.
There are three main types of Hashtag, all with their own agendas and benefits, which are:
- Content Hashtags: The one most associated with your company image, included on each post made regarding your products, events or ongoing campaigns.
- Event Hashtags: Whether it’s a sale, an in-house event or an online exclusive, this Hashtag is one invented to create excitement and hype around something new and limited.
- Campaign Hashtags: Specialized and specific to an ongoing campaign or drive, these are often very specific to an ongoing event or support drive, such as promoting lifestyles, etc. #MyCalvins by Calvin Klein is an example of using campaign hashtags to drive sales.
Creating and Using Effective Hashtags
With the basics concluded, it’s time to consider which hashtags you should use. So long as your tag is written without spaces and predated by a hash symbol, any tag is a possibility. This means the digital world is literally your oyster, but that can also lead to ineffective Hashtags, marketing mistakes and failing campaigns. It’s easy to choose the wrong tag, not utilize them properly on a chosen platform or have too many associated with your products to effectively trackback to an initial concept.
Remember: These tags will represent your company across all of the social media for a significant amount of time, so they need to be perfect.
Here are some tips and tricks to creating effective, memorable Hashtags guaranteed to bring customers back to your business:
Keep it Relevant
Your Hashtag should be easily relatable to your company, whether that is the company name for a small company, or a reference to a tagline if your business is already established. This ensures customer retention and encourages the easy sharing of your products with others.
Keep it Simple
The more complex a Hashtag is, the harder it will be to remember or reproduce. Keep yours short and sweet; a few words will suffice. It doesn’t have to be impressive or overly fancy, it just needs to be memorable.
Make it Unique
Company names and slogans are easier for consumers to remember and not confuse with other companies. Stick to your brand rather than relying on generic products or descriptions you sell, if you don’t wish to risk losing potential customers to competitors with similar Hashtags.
Don’t Hoard Hashtags
While it’s tempting to have many hashtags that link back to your business, keep to one main tag and intermittent event-based variants. Too many tags will leave many posts improperly tagged and dilute your consumer pool, while a universal one will be easier to recognize and reiterate.
Beware of Platform Specificity
Unless you intend to restrict your advertising to a single platform, avoid using a Hashtag with specific social media identifiers in their name. #instagregoreous won’t have as much impact on Twitter as it will on Instagram, and may even put those off who don’t use the platform, so plan your Hashtags carefully before settling on favorites.
Keep it Clean
Make sure your Hashtags are clear of expletives, are inoffensive to the general populace and if possible, cross-checked with other cultures and languages for misinterpretation or offense, to avoid disciplinary issues, account suspensions or potential legal issues.
The Importance of Hashtag Tracking
There’s no argument that Hashtags have become a crucial component of e-commerce since their introduction in 2007, but without proper management and targeted implementation, their use is both limited and often, detrimental to a company’s image and sales. How it’s used within a company’s marketing plan, shared on social media and how consumers receive the Hashtag is what makes them effective, innovative and essential tools in modern marketing.
You can follow how Hashtags influence consumers and respond appropriately through data analytics, which is an automated gathering and sorting of usage data, effortlessly removing some of the uncertainty of marketing.
Using data analytics tools to track Hashtag Performance specifically can make identifying trends, extracting the important information and presenting it in visual formats simple. Chances are your company already uses analytics in another department, too; it has countless applications, especially in digital marketing, but why should you track hashtag efficacy on social media?
The Advantages of Hashtag Analytics
Data analytics have been used in business for decades but more recently, have become integral to the function and management of online marketing. Besides being a cheap form of feedback and autonomously collected through a variety of tools, there are a number of benefits to using data analytics to determine how effective a chosen hashtag is.
Below are some examples of the benefits you can expect:
#1 – Know Your Audience
Using data analytics, it’ll quickly become obvious who has been interacting with your Hashtags. This allows you to identify your demographic – plus consider new hashtags if it is not the target market you envisaged – and market towards them more effectively, especially using the data produced on the depth of engagement and reach across the globe.
#2 – Popularity
The hashtags you use should be popular enough for users to see their relevance. Since hashtags are often used as a way for people to search for things, it’s imperative that you track how popular hashtags are, and how they’re working for your posting strategies.
Just keep in mind: It’s never a good idea to spam users with irrelevant-yet-trending hashtags in your posts. Just because you want to use popular hashtags doesn’t mean that you need them for every post you put out.
#3 – Brand Sentiment & Competitor Analysis
Interaction and comments made using your Hashtag can reveal how your consumers view your brand ethics, products and customer relations without costly, time-consuming surveys. They’re also beneficial to compare your business against competitor Hashtags, find influencers that like your brand and help mold your brand to better fit consumer expectations and needs.
#4 – Interactions
Want to learn how interactions are coming along when you use hashtags? You can!
When you look at the hashtag performance analytics, not only are you checking to see that people are seeing and using your hashtags, but you’re also making sure that they’re interacting with them. Hashtag interactions refer to users retweeting and sharing your hashtags throughout social media – and the Internet, in general. Having users share and retweet your posted hashtagged content helps your campaign expand its reach.
#5 – Reach
Reach refers to how many people are actually seeing your hashtags. Chances are, you might not be getting a lot of users to see your hashtags if your reach isn’t very high.
However, when viewing your analytics, you can see which hashtags are performing well, when it comes to your reach. Whichever are ranked high in reach, you can continue using them. Or, whichever hashtags are ranked low in reach, consider replacing them with different hashtags, so that you can increase viewership on your posts.
#6 – A/B Testing
Segmenting your audience through A/B testing to use differing hashtags allows market research that can assess and determine the efficacy of a Hashtag in garnering attention, determine if one is more attractive to your chosen demographic, and permit further reconfiguration without the need for customer surveys or phone calls, making it an effective analytics tool.
In hindsight, by looking at the metrics in your analytics, you’ll see where your hashtags stand, and how you can improve. The hashtag performance analytics will help you tweak any hashtags that aren’t performing, or have you replace them for better ones. Again, as mentioned in #6, A/B test hashtags!
5 Effective Tools for Hashtag Performance Analysis
There are plenty of tools available for businesses to monitor and assess the efficacy of Hashtags on social media, many of which are inexpensive, easy to use and can be accessed from a variety of devices. Here are 5 Effective Tools for Hashtag Performance Analysis you may not know of, but can significantly improve how Hashtags boost your business online:
#1 – Command for Instagram
An all-in-one analytics platform specialized for Instagram, Command collates all Hashtags you’ve used in the past and delivers and easy to understand, post-by-post representation of how each one has driven consumer engagement, the demographic you reached and helps to determine which other are being used by your target community to grant your content a greater impact.
Affordable, user friendly, and all-inclusive in subscription
#2 – Simply Measured
Another Instagram tool, Simply Measured collects data on Hashtag usage and compares them to others, allowing individual statistical evidence of efficacy for any given Hashtag or run reports on numerous hashtags simultaneously. This lets creators see now only how each tag works alone but also how using multiple, interconnected tags affect reach and consumer engagement, all beautifully depicted and scrutinized into graphs and tables. An added capability is predictions of when to post for a Hashtag, for best reception!
#3 – Sprout Social
While this analytical tool can be used just for Instagram, packages for the complete coverage of social media exist. Sprout Social is less affordable than the others in this sense, but it is also an integrated and effective overview of Hashtag Performance across multiple platforms, perfect for any business with funds to spare and plenty of growing room left to use.
Fully inclusive packages are more expensive than basic ones.
#4 – Iconosquare
This little tool is sleek and uncluttered, forgoing some of the fancier finishes for an easy to view, decipher and translate data system mostly consisting of tabulated results. Not only that, it can delve deeper into how effective your Hashtags were in individual target genres (digital markets, Instagram tips, social media shares, etc.), has filters to determine which hashtags were most engaging vs liked or commented, and allows reports to be downloaded as CSV files for later use.
Note that including branded hashtag tracking is more expensive.
#5 – Keyhole
Aimed at journalists, marketing executives and analytics departments, Keyhole is an all-inclusive tool that manages Hashtag performance from overarching keywords down to individual words and tags. Each post containing a Hashtag can be further analyzed for reach, impression, the number of posts and users, and much more, all of which data can be displayed in easy-to-navigate and decipher graphs and tables.
Created tag-clouds, to visually demonstrate how different tags intersect online and give access to a Klout score for further understanding of the reach a post or tag had on an audience.
When combined with the right tools, Hashtag Performance can push a business beyond prior expectations and usher in new eras of profit, consumer engagement, and understanding of how a simple word can affect the future of an entire business, all through the implementation of already established analytical systems. There’s nothing to lose but plenty to gain, especially with the assistance of Hashtag Performance Analytics.