Should you create a hashtag strategy?
You’ve likely heard of the Anna Karenina Principle. It refers, of course, to Tolstoy’s classic novel, and broadly asserts that success in any endeavour depends on getting everything, well, right. The seriously gloomy side of this principle states that any defect in any single factor at play might just doom the whole thing to failure. Cheerful, right?
Gloomy or not, the principle certainly seems to apply to business in general; any failure among departments like product, sales, marketing, HR, and finance might spell disaster. And we think it’s spot-on for social media, too, where myriad factors—think: visuals, voice and tone, clever captioning, triggering algorithms with the right formats, and yes, good ol’ hashtag usage—are indeed in play and must be right for the ship to stay afloat.
Hashtags, indeed, are a vital piece of your social media puzzle. Hashtags offer a great way to increase your discoverability, for example, and help you to categorise your content themes. Implementing a hashtag strategy can help you stay on top of the game and leverage social media to grow your business. Here, we’ll show you exactly how.
How to conduct research for a hashtag strategy
A strong social media strategy is one of the best weapons in any business arsenal, but often, hashtags get left to the last minute—or overlooked altogether. But they’re a vital part of any truly killer social media plan. Hashtags not only let you connect with your target audience, but they also let your audience find you, too. The trick is where to start and how to keep it going for maximum optimization.
Your guide to a hashtag strategy
The realm of social media changes so quickly and thoroughly that it’s often hard to keep up, much less be ahead of the curve. Try simply following the steps below and watching what others do, always keeping in mind that there is no one way to do it right and that your way just may be the best way for you. Make a spreadsheet if you’re a numbers person, for example, or make a doodle or mindmap if you’re a visual learner like me.
1. Brainstorm your keywords
Start with a brainstorm, remembering that hashtags are basically keywords. The best way to search for keywords is to pretend that you are the customer. Step into their shoes. What are they searching for? What would you type into Google to find what you need? Jot down those keywords that come to mind or try it out in Google and see what else comes up in Google’s auto-fill.
2. Research, Research, Research
Once you have a starter list of keywords, start searching for them on your social media channels to see how many followers and/or how much usage each hashtag has. (Pro tip: You can click into the posts using those hashtags and see what other hashtags those posters use for similar posts.)
Need a refresher on what all this lingo actually means? Read our essential social media definitions!
3. Document it
I cannot highlight enough how important it is to document your hashtags. Because hashtags will be different for different platforms, you WILL forget which is which. Therefore you need to document them. For example, your Instagram hashtags will be different then your LinkedIn ones. Also for each social channel hashtag strategy will vary as per content theme.
Here’s an of how to document hashtags for your brand. Let’s begin by supposing that you have a lifestyle brand. You will divide your content into themes and then research hashtags accordingly.
As a rule of thumb, here’s a table for how many hashtags you should use for each platform.
|Channels||Number of Hashtags|
|According to the Digital Marketing Institute, less is more. Aim for 3-5 well-placed hashtags.|
|Sprout Social outlines that you can use up to 30 however make sure they are relevant to your content, not generic like #beautiful or #fashion
Pro tip: To keep your caption clean you can add your hashtags in the comment section.
|Use 5-7 hashtags for LinkedIn as it operates differently from other platforms.|
|Fun Fact: Hashtags started on Twitter. Two hashtags per tweet is the right number for it, according to the Digital Marketing Institute.|
4. Tweak it
Too much of anything is not good—except, of course, when it comes to ice cream. Don’t use hashtags for the sake of using them. Not only will you look like a newbie but you’ll just be adding to the noise out there – and nobody wants that. Implement new hashtags and then review them to gauge their impact. If one isn’t working, just go back and search for more useful or topical hashtags and apply them. This is an ongoing process which you will have to tweak (not twerk) consistently in order to maximize your reach and hashtag effectiveness.
Repeat with me…hashtags are gooooood
Hashtags are good, and a robust hashtag strategy is even better. Social media is constantly changing, and the latest and greatest insights on hashtags are changing too. So once you start using hashtags well, you will need to constantly monitor, evaluate, and tweak those hashtags where necessary. It’s like planting a seed and nurturing that into a plant. Sometimes you’ll need to add more water, sometimes less, but you always need to tend to the plant.
And hopefully, these insights help you grow your hashtag seed into a blooming, full-grown flower.
Want still more juicy social media insight? Here’s a hot little nugget about Instagram Reels, which are all the rage these days, just for you.
Still stumbling? Reach out to our thoroughly helpful and delightful team. We’d be pleased to offer a guiding hand.