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February 8, 2024

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A Strategy to Track Hashtag Performance for Boosting Reach and Impressions

By the end of this article, you'll leverage hashtags in the best way possible to increase your social media reach and engagement. Let's get started!

Pratik Shinde

Pratik Shinde

A Strategy to Track Hashtag Performance for Boosting Reach and Impressions
Summary

Hashtags are a subtle but powerful tool in social media marketing.

Their effectiveness, however, is a topic of debate.

Many social media gurus claim that hashtags are the key to success. At the same time, many businesses find that adding hashtags doesn't make a meaningful improvement in engagement.

Hashtags and their impact can be hard to track, but they play a crucial role in a comprehensive social media strategy.

The goal of this post is to offer a detailed strategy for finding hashtags, tracking their performance, and analyzing their impact.

By the end of this post, you'll leverage hashtags in the best way possible to increase your social media reach and engagement. Let's get started!

Your Strategy to Track Hashtag Performance

Source: Pixabay

Here, we’ll look at how to build your own hashtag strategy and, in the process, understand how to track your hashtag performance, too. This is because tracking an outcome is strongly linked to the method and means to generate that outcome. Here’s what you should do. 

1. Define Your Main Social Media Goal

Whether you’re building your LinkedIn profile or creating a TikTok Social media strategy, you need to start with a goal. It works this way: your goal affects your objectives and actions, which impacts outcomes, and together, this process supports tracking your hashtag performance. 

First, you do not want to use hashtags around without a plan. It's ineffective and can backfire if you don't know what you're doing. You might use an inappropriate hashtag given the context. 

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For example, Entenmann used the #notguilty hashtag during a time when a major criminal case was trending. This led to a major backlash and affected the brand’s image. 

Second, avoid overusing hashtags without a purpose. Instead, link your hashtag usage to your clearly outlined goal. Here are some examples:

  • Increasing brand awareness: For this strategy, you'd create branded hashtags or use popular hashtags that relate to your brand.
  • Growing engagement: You'd use a mix of general and niche hashtags for this goal, allowing you to reach a wider audience while still targeting specific groups.
  • Driving website traffic: Using relevant hashtags in combination with links to your website can help increase click-through rates and drive more traffic to your site.

Check out the example below by cloud storage company Akamai Technologies. It talks about its remote and flexible work policies and added comforts for in-office work. 

While this post does little to nothing to push sales, it nevertheless paints a picture of Akamai as a great place to work. And this builds a powerful impact on the company’s brand image. Check out the hashtags used here: #oneakamai, #flexbase, and others. They leverage branded hashtags with topical ones like #workfrom home to drive engagement. 

A brand-building post driving engagement by Akamai Technologies

Once you clarify your big goals, they'll automatically help guide your hashtag strategy, resulting in more meaningful and targeted usage.

Damian Grabarczyk, the co-founder and growth marketer of PetLab Co., says, "In our journey at PetLab, we realized the pivotal role of a clear social media goal. We chose #doghealth as our anchor, not just as a hashtag but as a strategic compass. This focus allowed us to curate content that resonated deeply with our audience's core interests. By consistently aligning our posts with #doghealth, we saw a marked increase in engagement and follower growth. This approach also enabled us to fine-tune our content strategy based on real-time feedback, ensuring that every post contributed to building a stronger, more informed community. It clearly shows how a well-defined social media objective can lead to measurable success and deeper audience connections."

2. Identify the Right Hashtags

Once you have a clear goal in mind, it's time to start looking for hashtags to use.

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There are two main ways to go about this: manual search and using social media tools. Let's break them down one by one.

Manual Search

Take the time to manually search each social media platform you're using. If you’re researching hashtags for reels, head to your feed and browse through what’s trending. Be more attentive and explore the different hashtags creators use. 

Also, use the search bar to look for specific content. For example, let's say you're looking for hashtags for your restaurant business. You should track:

  • Broad hashtags like #food, #restaurant, or #yum
  • Niche hashtags like #instafoodie, #yourcitydining, or #tastytuesdays
  • Branded hashtags like your restaurant's name or a specific campaign you're running. You can also track your competition’s hashtags and see what’s working for them. 
  • And remember to check out what your target audience is using. This will give you insight into the content they're interested in and the hashtags they use to find it.

Manual research in this way can be enlightening, but it’s also time-consuming. 

You can also set up a poll to ask your audience which hashtag is better. It’s an original move that brings your brand into the picture in a positive way.

Next, we’ll cover using social media tools to find hashtags. At this stage, you also observe what hashtags appear with top content. You’ll soon have a ‘feel’ for hashtags that perform. 

Social Media Tools

The right tools will help you drill down into hashtag performance in more detail. There are powerful free and premium tools to monitor trending hashtags and how they perform. 

Here are a few social media tools you should explore:

  • Hashtag generators: These tools suggest relevant hashtags based on a keyword or topic you provide. There are even specific hashtag generators for different platforms, like one by Inflact and Hootsuite’s free hashtag generator for multiple social networks. You can also track competitors and learn what hashtags they use. 
  • Native social media analytics: Most social media platforms like Facebook and Pinterest have built-in analytics tools that give insights into the performance of your posts. Use this data to identify which hashtags are working best for your brand.

You also need to have the right approach when using these hashtag tools. It may be tempting to pick up the most trending hashtags and add them to your content. And that’s a good idea since they’ll likely drive more traffic to your posts. 

But also consider using more niche hashtags with lower traffic volumes. These hashtags are more likely to connect you to specific audiences where your content can have a stronger impact. 

Blend popular and specific hashtags to create a balanced hashtag mix for your posts. Using the same restaurant example,  you might use #food (a popular hashtag) and #beststeakinthehood (a specific hashtag). 

3. Apply Hashtags Strategically

Once you've identified the right hashtags for your business, it's time to implement them strategically in your social media posts. 

As mentioned before, It's not just about throwing a bunch of hashtags into your post; it's about adding them in a way that complements your content and helps achieve your defined social media goals. 

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In the above example, WPBeginner uses carefully strategized hashtags to appear in more feeds and meet goals. Doing this is essential since you can test different hashtags and see which ones bring the most results. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Using a blend of broad and niche hashtags helps build a larger audience while targeting specific groups with common interests. For instance, if you're a local bakery, you might use broad hashtags like #baking and niche ones like #glutenfreecakes. 
  • Try branded and audience-specific hashtags to boost engagement. Branded hashtags could be your business name, a product name, or a campaign slogan. Audience hashtags, on the other hand, are those commonly used by your target demographic. Hashtags like #swifties and #vegansofig are examples of self-identified groups online using hashtags. 

It’s important to research and incorporate these into your posts to increase visibility among your potential customers.

Remember, the number of hashtags per post can matter as well. Instagram, for example, allows up to 30 hashtags, but you’re better off using a small number of them to test what works more efficiently. Vary the hashtags on different posts to see what works best for your brand.

Also, hashtags should seamlessly integrate with your content. Forced hashtags not only look out of place but may also deter your audience. If a hashtag doesn't add value or context to your post, it's better to leave it out. 

Example of hashtags being overused in a post (Source

Remember, the goal of using hashtags is to reach a larger audience while staying relevant and engaging.

4. Track and Analyze Hashtag Performance

We come to the core of this post, where we’ll show you how to track and analyze actual hashtag performance. 

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When tracking hashtags, you want to see their impact on your posts' reach, impressions, and engagement levels. You could also link hashtag performance to conversions like email list sign-ups or sales increases

It’s important to understand that you can’t directly associate a hashtag with a specific action. But you can make close and educated guesses about which ones resonate with your target audience and drive the most interactions.

Social Media Tools

Your social media accounts already provide you with important information. 

And if you have business accounts for creating ads and promoting your content, you’ll get even more data and analytics options. 

Head to the analytics section and look for information on your posts’s performance daily. Note which ones have the most impressions and engagement. This will clue you into the best hashtags to drive the most audience engagement

Depending on which tool you use and if you leverage ads, you’ll learn about your audience’s locations, interests, and other useful information. 

You want to compare this information across multiple platforms regularly - perhaps daily or weekly. 

It will be helpful to compare the performance of different hashtags used on past posts. This comparison allows you to identify top-performing hashtags and those that may need to be replaced for better results. 

Comparing the performance of different hashtags also gives insights into trends and shifts in your audience's interests over time, which can be valuable for refining your social media strategy.

Work with Iconosquare to Get the Best Performance

As you can imagine, managing so much data this way is challenging. 

Even experienced brands need help managing such work and getting the best insights. 

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This is why we recommend leveraging Iconosquare’s powerful social media analytics and marketing platform. Here’s what it can do for you: 

  • Advanced analytics and reporting: Iconosquare provides profound insights into your hashtag performance, including impressions and engagement, across different social media platforms. You can get a profile overview for your account and see which posts are performing the best.
  • Scheduling features: Keep track of which posts contain what hashtags for greater results, plus schedule posts for the best times to reach your audience. Iconosquare's scheduling feature helps you optimize your content publishing schedule and ensures that your posts are seen by more people.
  • Collaboration:  Work with a team to plan and execute your social media strategy. With Iconosquare's collaboration features, everyone can stay up-to-date on what hashtags are being used and how they're performing.

Iconosquare also incorporates AI for content inspiration and creation to help your team stay productive. These are just a few things Iconosquare can do for your brand. 

Try it now with a 14-day free trial!

Boost Your Social Media Reach and Impressions with Hashtag Strategies

It’s important to use hashtags strategically. And to also track how they perform. 

This is possible when you diversify your hashtags, align them with your brand and audience, and integrate them naturally into your content. 

The real key lies in consistently monitoring and analyzing your hashtag performance to make data-driven adjustments to your strategy. We’ve shared several useful points to help you use and track hashtags in your social media marketing strategy. 

Now, make finding hashtags and managing social media easy with Iconosquare. Try it for free today!

About
the writer
Pratik Shinde

Pratik Shinde

Contributor @Iconosquare

Pratik Shinde is a Content Marketer and SEO enthusiast. He helps fast-paced B2B SaaS startups acquire customers through organic marketing efforts.

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