How to Research Hashtags For Your Business

Matcha Design - Thursday, October 1, 2020

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So many marketing and community management tasks are best left to in-house teams – particularly for small businesses. If your company fits that category, it’s likely you’re doing some DIY before you look for a third party agency… or your own marketing team wears a lot of hats.

Even when you do have dedicated creative professionals on the job, it will be someone’s duty to take that content and post it – either by scheduling it or publishing it manually.

In any case, using the right tags or hashtags can make or break your efforts (according to the multiple resources within this article). More than likely, using the best hashtags for you and your content, consistently, will lead to a slow and increasing buildup on your organic reach and engagement.

For you business owners and operators out there, that means #hashtags can add a subtle boost to your ROI for social media publications.


Should I make my own hashtag?

Sure!

Making your own hashtag is a free way to purposely filter content on a single platform, and it can be a helpful way to ask your audience to engage with you on a specific topic or theme.

This can be illustrated best on Twitter, as most of the search functions, follow topics, trending topics, and promotional status use hashtags in a transparent way. If you’re making up your own hashtag for a branded campaign for any reason it’s a good idea to start your research with this Do’s and Don’ts from Twitter themselves.

That resource is from a first party, the platform themselves on their business blog, and covers the basics. Keep in mind, it’s mostly common sense tips like “don’t overuse tags” and motivating messages like “do your research”.

We’ll dive deeper on those very subjects later on, but go ahead and visit these links as you read to develop a robust strategy that supports your sales goals.

 

Are There Hashtags on LinkedIn?

Yes, and surprisingly you’ll probably want to go there first.

Like every popular social networking community, on LinkedIn “hashtags help you discover topics and interests most relevant to you” or so they say on their official help guide.

This is 100%  true, but not the whole story. Wanting to become the next big thing since Facebook, the team at LinkedIn wants to encourage use of sharing features, including hashtags. Compared to similar content being shared on established and aging networks like Facebook and Instagram the same copy, content, and hashtags can be used on LinkedIn posts.

If you publish, you’ll find much more organic engagement. This is because LinkedIn has only recently become a destination for socially active users. Less overall population means posts on a single tag will be in front of a larger percentage of the general population, thus enhancing more reach. 

Another theory is that LinkedIn users are in a “professional” or “business” mood when they browse and engage on the app or website. This could mean an individual is more attuned to follow informative tags, comment their own thoughts, and share those messages.

It is after all a networking site for business professionals, and like any company cocktail party or trade event there’s never a shortage of those who are more enthusiastic about business than the average person.

Additionally LinkedIn wants more users, more activity, and more paid advertising. We wouldn't be surprised if they had their hands on the scales to artificially extend the “normal” reach of certain hashtags.

 

TikTok and the importance of hashtags

If you’ve never thought about posting native content to TikTok for your business, you’re almost late to the party. The platform is aggressively going after B2C brands to advertise on their platform.

The best ads are indistinguishable from native content, which is the threshold for success on the new app that’s filled with socially fluent and discerning younger generations. Ads aside, for your organic content, hashtags are both the best way to filter and discover topics close to your interests-- but also to ensure it reaches a wide audience.

TikTok in late 2020 is still way ahead of the curve, so experimentation will always be the best course of action.

Later has a great longer read about this very topic. While it’s filled with examples of major influencers using certain tags to promote community and user generated content, the most critical insight is the #fyp and #foryoupage.

There’s no concrete evidence that those tags actually aid in your videos landing on users curated timelines… but its wide spread use by top creators is proof that testing, experimenting, and active learning are still the norm. A key indicator that it’s not too late to get in on the ground level using the app to promote your brand.

 

Does Facebook still care about hashtags?

This is an interesting question. Facebook is mature enough that there have been multiple generations of users. The platform has evolved along with them, and continues to suit the needs of their community.

As you’ll no doubt remember, hashtags used to be the norm for Facebook as most users transitioned comfortably from Twitter. For a while, that became poor etiquette and made some content feel out of touch-- especially if lots of tags were used in efforts to game the system and spam your way to popularity.

Today, most marketing experts and frequent users of the platform feel that hashtags have a helpful place when brands and businesses post updates from their page. Postplanner breaks down this research into a tangible number: the ideal number of hashtags for user engagement is less than three.

 

Do it for the ‘gram.

Instagram is almost synonymous with visual communication, and maintains an artistic tone compared to the rest of social media.

Even in 2020 when there are plenty of other ways to reach out to customers, the photogenic app is still a powerful place for brands to launch products, and promote services.

Compared to the other platforms we discussed so far, Insta users are the most tolerant to liberal placement of hashtags. Any strategy tested and successful should be toned down and re-engineered before being put into practice elsewhere.

This is because the first few hashtags you use within your post (or in the first comments) have a significant impact on your organic reach.

Small to medium sized accounts (both personal and business) still deploy a plethora of tags per post to build their audience and spur on engagement. This is obviously beneficial for a range of marketing goals, otherwise modern brands would stop the practice-- which they do when they become large. 

It’s clear that the benefit for multiple tags degrades the larger your following and organic reach becomes normally. However, for small to medium sized accounts it’s still the best way to grow.

Hootsuite is a major contender in the social media marketing industry. Their in-depth take on Instagram Hashtags is another worthy read.

The most important take-away there is how they describe context.

 

How do I find which hashtags to use?

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with how the most popular platforms use tags, it’s time to learn a universal strategy you can apply to research for any post.

Context is everything. 

Simply choosing the most popular tags (with the most followers or subscribers) won’t net you any real gains. In many cases, choosing a relative hashtag to your search that’s two or three spots down in the popularity will be a better strategy.

The reason is contextual. Your content and message should be honest, truthful, or at least very specific. Either you’re publicizing something that has a specific topic and theme, or you’re looking for it to be seen by viewers in a certain mindset, demographic, or position.

Go deeper and be more specific. Make sure both your content and the tags you choose support and value small focused audiences. If you have a larger inclusive audience to reach, then make multiple posts.

Business Instagram accounts can currently search up to 30 independent hashtags per day. Use that opportunity to discover new and upcoming tags… or ones that didn’t immediately come to your mind, but are used within a small community or trade.

Like modern trade-names or trade slang, an insider hashtag might have a small number of followers but they’ll be more included to see every post using it. 

Here’s where there is room to fail. If you post on those super niched hashtags, but your content and creative doesn’t make sense there… your message is going to fall flat.

Don’t discount hashtag research as an afterthought. It’s just as important as every other aspect of your marketing strategy. Appropriately, your message and tags should be aligned with one of the following content purposes:

Educate, entertain, or provide value.

About Matcha Design
Matcha Design is a full-service creative agency specializing in web designprintidentitybrandinginterface designvideo productionstill photography and motion design. Using our passion for excellence, multi-cultural background, and award winning practices, we consistently provide high-quality, custom, innovative solutions to meet the diverse marketing needs of our clients. For more information, visit www.MatchaDesign.com.