Hashtag tracking is one of the most underrated techniques available to us as digital marketers. We’re all familiar with how powerful hashtags can be. Yet we rarely take the time to carry out advanced analysis on how they’re affecting our digital marketing efforts.
Used correctly, hashtags can be a powerful discovery tool. It’s a useful way to expand your reach or to group posts around the same ad campaign. But despite this, too many people pick out a hashtag and stick with it without actually monitoring its performance.
That’s why we’ve created this post. We spend a lot of time using hashtags within our user-generated content campaigns. As part of that, we also research each hashtag. These are the ten steps that we typically follow when tracking a hashtag that we want to use.
How to track hashtags?
1. Choose the right hashtag
Some hashtags are easier to track than others. If you’re using a super popular hashtag such as #TBT or #music, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and to identify the mentions that are the most relevant to you and your business. That’s why it’s often a good idea to choose less trafficked hashtags. With those you can take over and dominate. Another option is to create a brand new hashtag of your own. This decision needs to be made as early as possible. In this case you’re setting yourself up for success right from the outset.
2. Promote your hashtag
Tracking a hashtag is all well and good. But if you’re the one who created it and you don’t tell anyone about it, no one will use it. Some companies have enough clout to create a new hashtag for every product and campaign. However, that’s not always feasible for smaller businesses. That’s why it’s often a good idea to use the same hashtag. At least until people pick up on it and start using it themselves. It’s a great way to keep an eye on all of the conversations that are taking place around your brand and its products or services.
3. Find new hashtags
Monitoring Tools like Sprout Social’s Trends Report and hashtag discovery app Display Purposes will allow you to find new hashtags that you previously weren’t aware of. Hashtags go in and out of fashion. So it’s not enough to simply choose the hashtags you want to use and to stick with them. The Trends Report is particularly useful because it can identify the hashtags that people are using when they’re talking about your brand. That makes it the perfect way for you to join the discussion.
4. Use a Twitter dashboard
Twitter dashboards are tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck which enable you to create customised dashboards and saved searches. This means you can set up real-time feeds for your twitter hashtags. In that case you see what’s being said the second that it’s posted. You’ll be able to react to and share things as soon as they’re posted. You can even use advanced searches to highlight specific types of query. For example, you could narrow down your hashtag analysis only from members of a specific Twitter list. Alternatively you could view only posts with over a dozen retweets.
5. Use automated tools
Automated hashtag tools like KeyHole and Hashtracking allow you to input the hashtags that you’re interested in and then to sit back and wait for them to deliver their reports to you. These types of insights can be essential, and automated tools offer what amounts to another pair of eyes. Still, it’s a good idea not to rely on them too heavily. Take advantage of automated hashtag tracking tools but plan in some time to manually review your marketing campaigns, too.
6. Take advantage of sentiment analysis
Consider seeking out hashtag analytics tools like Emplify.io which can analyse both Twitter and Instagram hashtags and deliver sentiment analysis reports. This will help you to keep your pulse on the overall buzz around a subject and to identify any spikes in positivity or negativity. For example, the #FastFood hashtag is likely to become more negative if a scandal hits McDonald’s, and that will affect you even if you’re KFC.
7. Identify Influencers
If you want your hashtag to reach as many people as possible then you’ll need to work with influencers. The good news is that you can start by looking at who’s already using the hashtag. Keep your eyes peeled for top influencers with high engagement levels and high follower counts and find ways to work with them. A little free product can go a long way, and it’s a shortcut to the middle of the conversation for brands who are struggling to break through the noise.
8. Take part in the conversation
Identifying and tracking all of these hashtags is effectively useless unless you participate in the conversation yourself. Luckily, if you’re using a Twitter dashboard as per step #4, it’s easy for you to tap out a quick reply to continue conversations. Don’t just hit people with a sales message, though. Find a way to add to the discussion, even if that’s just with a little trivia. Remember, you’re an expert at what you’re talking about. After all, it’s what you do for a living.
9. Set up Google Alerts
People don’t just use hashtags in their social media updates. That’s why Google Alerts come in handy. This free service from Google allows you to receive automated emails as soon as the search engine indexes a new page that matches a specific search term. It’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts for each of the hashtags that you’re using to see whether they’re ever mentioned elsewhere. For example, if your campaign is a huge success and your hashtag takes off, you might start to receive mentions on industry websites and mainstream publishers. Make sure that you don’t miss it.
10. Share what you find
If you’re running a user-generated content campaign or inviting your social media followers to use a hashtag then you’re effectively creating a well of content that you can continue to tap into over time. Hashtag tracking makes sure that you won’t miss a single post, helping you to make the most of all of the amazing UGC that’s being created. But even then, you’re not truly making the most of it until you go ahead and share it.
Hashtag tracking is one of the most underrated strategies that’s available to us as digital and social media marketers. We put a lot of thought into the hashtags we use and we often base entire campaigns around a single hashtag. Hashtag tracking simply makes sure that you’re not focusing your attentions on the wrong place and failing to use those hashtags to their full potential.
The real secret to effective hashtag marketing is to pick the right hashtag, to successfully promote it amongst your target audience and then to monitor the response that it receives. You’ll need a combination of factors to all kick in at the same time, but you won’t know whether that’s actually happened unless you start hashtag tracking.
That’s why hashtag tracking is so important. Sure, you can go the more manual route of simply checking the hashtag on different social networking sites as and when you remember, but that’s a guaranteed way to miss out on something. The only way to make sure that you’re keeping an eye on absolutely everything is to follow these ten simple steps to successful hashtag tracking. Good luck.