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 organized 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 higher visibility for your brand. And guess what? 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 people on social media 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.

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 Analytics Tools

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

1. 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. Want to learn more about the benefits of Sprout Social? Request a demo today!

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2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Hashtagify

In addition to measuring data around hashtags you’ve used, it’s also helpful to understand the relationship between different hashtags. Hashtagify does exactly that.

Simply plug in a keyword, and Hashtagify will populate several related hashtags commonly used alongside your seed keyword.

This is particularly helpful for Instagram. Unlike other networks like Twitter, it’s common practice to use multiple hashtags within one post. With Hashtagify, you can enter your main hashtag, then get suggestions for others that are commonly associated with it.

Using multiple related hashtags gives you the ability to attract your target audience. For instance, using the example above, people that use the hashtag #happiness are likely to also be interested in a post with the hashtag #happy or #smile.

5. Twubs

Does your brand host its own Twitter chat? If so, you’ll want a reliable way to monitor all the conversations. You should have a branded hashtag for your chat, that you encourage participants to use.

In addition to allowing you to monitor your Twitter chat conversations in real time, Twubs will also give you some helpful data. Twubs uses hashtag analytics to show you how many people participated in your chat as well as the reach and impressions your hashtag received.

6. Hashtag Battle

Social media engagement is a big goal for most brands. Hashtag Battle is a tool you can use to spark conversation and get your audience to organically engage with your brand.

Hashtag Battle allows you to compare the number of Tweets or Instagram posts for two or more hashtags. For instance, when the Batman vs Superman movie was set to release, Comic-Con launched a hashtag battle between both super heroes to see who the crowd preferred.

Tactics like this are great for community building. Getting your audience to “choose sides” naturally encourages dialogue as people start to debate about why they made their choice.

There are plenty of creative ways your brand can use this concept. For instance, if you have a couple of new products being released, put the two head to head and see which one your customers prefer.

Or you can even use it to get your audience involved in your R&D process. Several brands including Budweiser, Oreo and Coca-Cola have all crowdsourced ideas for new products.

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, breaking industry news and sometimes even current hashtag holidays.
  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.

How to Use Hashtag Analytics to Improve Your Marketing Efforts

You have all this data, so what do you do with it? Here are a few example of ways you can use hashtag analytics:

Get a Better Understanding of Trends

Here’s a scenario. Your brand Tweets content related to several different categories. You want to know which categories get the most engagement. Assign a specific hashtags to each category of content you share. Then use Sprout’s Twitter Keyword Report to measure each category against each other.

The report will show you the share of volume for each hashtag you’re tracking. The hashtags with the highest share of volume are likely the ones your audience gravitates to the most. Use that information to share more content within that category.

Find Your Best Instagram Hashtags

Instagram is all about hashtags. In fact, we wrote an entire guide on how to get the most out of hashtags for Instagram. But just throwing around hashtags and hoping they get engagement isn’t really a strategy. Use our hashtag analytics for Instagram to see which hashtags drive the most engagement.

Once you find your top performers, share more content related to them, and use the hashtag more frequently.

Track Campaign Performance

Whether you’re running a giveaway or promoting a new product launch on social media, you’ll want a hashtag to go along with it. That way, you can use hashtag analytics to measure how well the campaign went. For giveaways, you can use tools like Woobox or Wishpond to track entries and winners based on your hashtag.

For other campaigns, you can also use Sprout’s Smart Inbox to track conversations using your hashtag in real time. Then use the Listening report to measure your campaign’s overall performance.

Add More to Your Hashtag Analytics

While finding hashtags is easier with some of the previously mentioned tools, our 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.

Once you have a nice sized list, you can plug your hashtags into RiteTag what is most popular. 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.