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Tracking social media activity is one of the biggest struggles companies have faced since the early stages of social media marketing. One study showed 39% of businesses don’t measure their social media ROI due to a lack of analytics, resources or expertise. Hashtags make tracking campaigns much easier, and gives you more accurate results.

By using hashtag analytics, you’ll be able to run better campaigns, get details on your target audience and optimize your social media posts for more exposure. If you’ve been hesitant or confused about incorporating hashtags into your social media marketing strategy, we’re going to break down everything you need to know to get on board.

Why Hashtags?

Social media marketing is all about engagement. The more Retweets, likes and comments your social media posts receive, the more visibility you’ll have. Hashtags drive engagement.

Tweets with hashtags get twice as much engagement as those without them, and 55% more Retweets. On top of that, 75% of social media users use hashtags.

Hashtags allow social media sites and users to categorize content and get a clearer picture of what your Tweets, Facebook posts or Pins are about. When you add hashtags into your social media posts, it also makes them more discoverable in searches.

For instance, if we search Twitter for the word “Fitness” (without the # symbol), we can see that a lot of the results contain #Fitness.

Hashtag Fitness

You can also use hashtags to find new prospects. You’ve heard that your target audience is on social media time and time again, so you should be there too.

However, there are millions of people who aren’t your target customers on social media as well, and you need a way to weed them out. Hashtags can help you. Let’s say you’re a clothing company planning on launching a new Spring line. You could search through Instagram for hashtags like #fashion, #fashionista and #fashiongram to identify influencers and prospects that would be interested in your new line.

Using hashtags could help with SEO as well. In 2015, Google started to include Tweets in its search results. When you search Google for #fitness, the top results are Tweets. As hashtags continue to become a way for consumers to communicate, it’s not unlikely that more searchers will start adding hashtags to their queries. Get in the habit of using hashtags now and be ahead of the curve.

Hashtag Google Search

Social Networks That Support Hashtags

Due to the popularity of hashtags, more social media platforms started to integrate them. Although they’re mostly known for Twitter and Instagram, you can use hashtags on these platforms as well:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Vine

Just like Twitter and Instagram, implementing hashtags on these social media sites/apps can give your content more visibility and make it easier to track your campaigns. However, the secret to success with hashtags on each network isn’t the same according to an infographic from QuickSprout. Here are some of the key findings:

Hashtags on Twitter

The magic number for hashtags in a Tweet is two. Tweets with one to two hashtags average 21% more engagement. Adding additional hashtags drops engagement by 17%.

hashtags on Twitter

Hashtags on Instagram

If you’ve ever browsed through popular Instagram posts, you’ve probably noticed they’re packed with hashtags at the end. Adding a long stream of hashtags to your Instagram captions is pretty much the norm, and with good reason. Instagram posts containing 11 hashtags get 79.5% more engagement.

hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags on Facebook

Facebook seems to be the exception to the rule when it comes to hashtags. Unlike Twitter and Instagram, where hashtags tend to boost your content’s performance, the opposite is true for Facebook. According to the QuickSprout infographic, Facebook posts with hashtags have a 0.80% median viral reach per fan, compared to 1.30% for posts without hashtags.

hashtags on Facebook

When you use hashtags on Facebook, less is more.

  • 593 average interactions per story with 1-2 hashtags
  • 416 average interactions per story with 3-5 hashtags
  • 307 average interactions per story with 6-10 hashtags
  • 188 average interactions per story with 10 or more hashtags

Hashtags on Google+

Google+ has changed a lot since it first launched. At one point, Google+ heavily integrated hashtags by automatically attaching them to your posts based on your content and even adding them to the search results.

Those days are gone now and hashtags function a lot like they do on other social networking sites. They’re searchable on Google+, and clicking a hashtag on a Google+ post shows you results from communities, collections and other posts about the topic.

hashtags on google plus

Hashtags on Tumblr

Tumblr uses hashtags differently than most social networking sites. Instead of having hashtags within your posts, Tumblr allows you to use them as tags, similar to WordPress. Adding these hashtags to your Tumblr posts improves discoverability. You have the benefit of being able to use spaces, apostrophes and other characters in your Tumblr tags as well.

Tumblr doesn’t restrict the number of hashtags you can use in your posts. However, only the first five tags you use will be discoverable in search, so make sure to put your most important hashtags first.

Although you can’t get detailed hashtag analytics for Tumblr, there is a feature called Tracked Tags. With Tracked Tags, you can save the hashtag search results to your “favorite search.” Then, you can see all of the latest posts containing that hashtag. This is great if you’re running a specific campaign on Tumblr and want to see whose using your branded hashtag.

hashtags on Tumblr

Hashtag Analytics Tools

As we mentioned in the beginning, a lot of brands don’t track their social media marketing activities because they don’t know how. By combining hashtags with the right tools, you’ll be able to better measure your campaigns and get more insight into who your audience is. Give these tools a try for hashtag analytics.

RiteTag

Randomly tossing hashtags onto the end of your Tweets isn’t the best strategy. Instead, do some research to find popular hashtags about the topic you’re sharing. RiteTag makes it easy. With the hashtag search tool, you can enter a seed word, and RiteTag will give you a list of hashtags that contain the phrase.

Along with hashtags, you’ll get helpful data like how many times the hashtag is Tweeted per hour, how often Tweets containing the hashtag are getting Retweeted and more.

RiteTag

Sprout Social

You don’t necessarily always have to go out and find new hashtags to use. There’s a chance your brand is mentioned alongside some popular hashtags already. With Sprout Social’s Trends Report, you can see what hashtags are commonly used when people mention you on Twitter.

Start adding those different hashtags into your Tweets and other social media posts to get more engagement and buzz for your brand. We’ll go into more detail on how to use this report later.

sprout social trends report

Keyhole

Let’s say you’ve started up a campaign to promote a new product or initiative on Twitter. Like a smart social media marketer, you created a unique hashtag to track the campaign. Keyhole allows you to see in depth data for the hashtag’s usage. For instance, you can see how many people used the hashtag, how many impressions it got, the top posts containing the hashtag, influencers who used it and much more.

Keyhole Screenshot

Postano

If you want a very robust solution for hashtag analytics, then Postano is worth exploring. Outdoor brand Poler Stuff uses Postano get insights into user generated content containing their hashtags and discover upcoming trends.

Postano

Which Hashtags Should You Track?

It’s not necessary to track every single hashtag you can think of. You want to narrow it down to the most popular hashtags for you industry, branded hashtags and the hashtags used by influencers. In most cases, hashtags will fall under one of two categories:

  1. Short Term: These hashtags are popular for a short period of time and are typically based off of what’s happening at the moment. For instance, many of the hashtags you see trending on Twitter are short term. They’re for hot stories and current events. These are good to track for conferences, social media contests and breaking industry news.
  2. Long Term: These hashtags are more generic and commonly used in the entire social media sphere. For instance, #fitness or #tbt (throwback Thursday) on Instagram are used on a consistent basis. You don’t need to track the more generic long term hashtags like #tbt. But if your company has a branded hashtag that your customers and followers often use, it’s a good idea to track it. For instance, Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke campaign has become a regularly used hashtag, and should be tracked long term.

Add More to Your Hashtag Analytics

While finding hashtags is easier with some of the previously mentioned tools, Sprout Social’s Trends Report finds hashtags people are already using when they mention your brand on Twitter. You can click on any of the hashtags in the report to see the latest Tweets containing the specific hashtag and your Twitter Handle. Take your research one step further by looking at those users’ accounts and seeing what other hashtags they frequently use.

The great thing about the Sprout Social Trends Report is you’ll see a list of associated words, which gives you more ideas for potential hashtags to use.

topics and hashtags trend reporting by sprout social

Once you have a nice sized list, you can plug your hashtags into RiteTag to see how popular they are. Now, you can start adding the top hashtags into your social media posts, and even create content related to them for your blog. For instance, if your brand is constantly mentioned with the hashtag #fashion, you could create content about the latest fashion trends. Then, when you Tweet out links to your blog post, you can add #fashion.

At the same time, you can use Sprout’s social media analytics suite to find your top Tweets and make note of which hashtags are used in them. Then you can adjust and shift based on your findings.

Start Tracking

With the tools and data available to social media marketers today, there’s no reason to disregard hashtag analytics. Use the tips, tools and tactics we’ve gone over and start using hashtags to their full potential.