In the fast-paced world of social media, leveraging viral hashtags can be a game-changer for boosting your brand’s visibility, increasing engagement, and attracting a broader audience. However, achieving viral status isn’t a stroke of luck; it requires a well-thought-out strategy. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key steps to create a winning strategy for viral hashtags, empowering you to maximize your social media presence and unleash the potential of viral marketing.
When looking for an easy Instagram hashtag strategy – it can be really daunting seeing so many floating around! Even doing a hashtag search can be more worry than its worth! So how do we establish a good Hashtag strategy? Where do we focus our energy? If you want some additional Instagram strategies – check out these Instagram blogs.
Working out what will be a good strategy for hashtags on Instagram is personal, some pages might really excel and some might not. But it’s down to you – to put in the time to manage your hashtag strategy on Instagram.
What is a hashtag?
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the “#” symbol (e.g., #socialmedia, #travel, #fitness) used on social media platforms to categorize and organize content. When users include hashtags in their posts, it enables those posts to be discoverable by anyone searching for or clicking on that specific hashtag. Hashtags have become a fundamental aspect of social media communication, allowing users to find, participate in, and engage with conversations on various topics.
Here’s how hashtags work:
- Categorization: Hashtags categorize content based on a specific topic, theme, event, or keyword. When a user adds a hashtag to their post, the platform automatically links it to other posts that use the same hashtag, creating a virtual discussion thread around that particular subject.
- Discovery: Hashtags make content discoverable to a broader audience beyond a user’s followers. Users can search for or click on hashtags to view all posts that include that specific hashtag, even from accounts they do not follow. This feature expands content visibility and engagement opportunities.
- Engagement and Trending: Popular or frequently used hashtags may trend, becoming widely recognized and used by a large number of users. Trending hashtags appear in the platform’s trending section, attracting even more attention and engagement.
- Community Building: Hashtags foster communities around common interests or causes. Users with shared interests can connect, discuss, and interact by using and engaging with the same hashtags.
- Campaigns and Events: Brands and individuals often create hashtag campaigns to promote a specific event, product, or cause. These campaigns encourage user participation and generate user-generated content, driving brand engagement and visibility.
- Cross-Platform Functionality: Hashtags are widely used across various social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and others. This cross-platform functionality allows users to engage with content and discussions across different networks.
- Best Practices: While hashtags can be beneficial, it’s essential to use them strategically. Avoid using excessive or irrelevant hashtags, as it may appear spammy and decrease the overall engagement of your content. Instead, opt for a few relevant and popular hashtags that genuinely represent the content of your post.
- Branding: Brands often use branded hashtags to promote their products or campaigns uniquely. Branded hashtags are specific to the brand and help consolidate content related to the brand’s promotions or events.
Overall, hashtags serve as powerful tools to enhance content discoverability, connect users with similar interests, and create engaging conversations on social media platforms. When used strategically and thoughtfully, hashtags can significantly contribute to expanding a user’s reach and visibility in the vast social media landscape.
According to Instagram – A hashtag is like a search word associated with an activity or image.
You can add hashtags in the caption or comments of your post. If you add hashtags to a post that’s set to public, the post will be visible on the corresponding hashtag page.
Hashtag and location pages include public photos and videos that were shared with the corresponding hashtag or location. You can tap at the top of these pages to see public stories, and scroll down to see public posts.
How to analyse Instagram Hashtag Analytics
Obviously – because we know you are smart, you have your Instagram set up as a business account. If you don’t know about that you can read more about that here. You already know how many Instagram hashtags to use (its 30 hashtags, if you didn’t know but we recommend 25 tailored ones) and Instagram cuts off the first line of text anyway so It really doesn’t make to much difference if you have put it directly in the caption, or in the comments. Speaking to the experts have also said that there is very little difference in the engagement of hashtags in the comments and caption.
What matters is that you are researching those hashtags and making sure they are the ones that best fit and suit your business and brand. Remember there is a limit on how many hashtags you can use, this is 30. And 10 in stories.
You also need to move them around and shake them up – using the same 30 over and over again is not a strategy you want to employ.
So open up your last post on Instagram – How many of those views were from hashtags? If there were not many – it means potentially that your hashtags are not performing as well as you would like, so how do you tweak your strategy to make sure you are meeting those needs?
We went into detail about what statistics you should look into on Instagram if you want to learn more.
Analyzing hashtags is a crucial aspect of social media marketing and understanding their effectiveness in reaching your target audience. Here are some of the best ways to analyze hashtags:
- Social Media Analytics Tools: Most social media platforms provide built-in analytics tools that offer insights into the performance of your posts and hashtags. These analytics platforms can show you the reach, impressions, engagement, and other relevant metrics for each hashtag used in your posts.
- Third-Party Hashtag Analytics Tools: There are several third-party hashtag analytics tools available that can provide more in-depth data and analysis on hashtag performance. Some popular tools include Hashtagify, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and Keyhole. These tools often offer advanced metrics, competitor analysis, and trend tracking.
- Identify Top Performing Hashtags: Analyze which hashtags generate the most engagement, reach, and interactions. Look for patterns and trends to identify the most effective hashtags in your niche or industry.
- Track Brand and Campaign Hashtags: If you’re running specific hashtag campaigns or using branded hashtags, monitor their performance separately. Track the reach, sentiment, and user-generated content associated with these hashtags.
- Understand Audience Insights: Analyze the demographics and interests of the users engaging with specific hashtags. This will help you better understand your target audience and tailor your content to their preferences.
- Check for Trending Hashtags: Keep an eye on trending hashtags related to your industry or niche. Joining trending conversations can increase visibility and engagement for your content.
- Competitor Analysis: Monitor the hashtags your competitors are using and their performance. This can provide valuable insights into which hashtags are resonating with your shared audience.
- Test and Refine: Experiment with different hashtags to identify what works best for your content and target audience. Continuously test and refine your hashtag strategy based on the data you gather.
- Combine Hashtags Strategically: Create hashtag combinations that align with your content and attract relevant audiences. For example, use a mix of general, niche-specific, and branded hashtags to optimize reach and engagement.
- Consider Seasonal and Trending Events: Analyze hashtags associated with seasonal events or trending topics to capitalize on real-time conversations and boost your content’s visibility.
- Set Goals and Metrics: Define clear goals for your hashtag strategy, such as increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting user engagement. Track the relevant metrics to measure the success of your hashtag efforts.
Remember, analyzing hashtags is an ongoing process. Stay proactive in monitoring performance and adjusting your strategy as social media trends and audience behavior evolve. The data and insights gathered from hashtag analysis will help you make informed decisions, refine your social media content, and achieve better results in your social media marketing efforts.
What hashtags will work the best for my business?
There are a couple of ways of establishing what hashtags work for you, the first is writing down a list of words that work for your business. Lets take Bullet Journal for example. This is a popular hashtag at the moment with over 2.5 million posts.
Brain storm what other words could go with this
#bulletjournalinspiration #bulletjournalcreative #bulletjournallife #bulletjournalproductivity #bulletjournaljoy #bulletjournalnew etc etc. Once you have a list of about 50 – have a look at them in the search bar of Instagram. You want to make sure that they actually are relevant and helpful to your business. If it’s not relevant, leave it off or replace it.
Now head over to people you admire or are in competition within your niche – what hashtags are they using?
Monu Rohila, Director- New Business & Marketing of Hoho Media and Infotainment Agency give us some of the following stats;
Instagram posts that use hashtags get more likes and comments, with posts containing 9 hashtags performing 2.5x as well as posts using just 1 hashtag. Only 27% of marketers use less than 3 hashtags per post because Instagram hashtag research feels like hard work, it’s time consuming, and it breaks the otherwise enjoyable flow of posting to Instagram. But it doesn’t have to.
Think about your own strategy for hashtags
1. Know Your Audience:
Understanding your target audience is the foundation of any successful social media strategy. Research their preferences, interests, and pain points to identify the hashtags that resonate with them the most. Tailoring your hashtags to your audience’s preferences enhances the likelihood of their engagement and sharing.
2. Follow Trending Topics:
Stay updated on trending topics and current events to spot opportunities for timely and relevant hashtag usage. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram often display trending hashtags, making it easier to join conversations and ride the wave of viral trends.
3. Research Popular Hashtags:
Conduct thorough research on hashtags that are already trending or have gone viral in your niche. Tools like Hashtagify and RiteTag can help you discover popular hashtags related to your industry. Incorporate these high-performing hashtags into your content strategically.
4. Be Creative and Original:
While it’s essential to use popular hashtags, don’t shy away from creating unique and original ones for your brand. Memorable and distinctive hashtags can set your content apart and make it more shareable, contributing to its viral potential.
5. Keep It Simple and Memorable:
Viral hashtags are often short, simple, and easy to remember. Avoid long and convoluted hashtags that may confuse your audience or deter them from using the hashtag themselves.
6. Align with Brand Values:
Ensure that the hashtags you use align with your brand’s values and messaging. Authenticity is key to building trust with your audience, and using hashtags that resonate with your brand identity reinforces this authenticity.
7. Encourage User Participation:
Craft hashtags that encourage user participation and engagement. User-generated content (UGC) with your branded hashtag can be a powerful driver of virality as it involves your audience in the content creation process.
8. Leverage Influencers:
Collaborate with influencers in your niche to amplify the reach of your hashtag campaigns. Influencers can significantly increase exposure and engagement, contributing to the viral potential of your hashtags.
9. Timing Matters:
Consider the timing of your hashtag campaigns. Analyze when your audience is most active on social media and schedule your posts to coincide with peak engagement hours.
10. Monitor and Analyze:
Track the performance of your hashtag campaigns using social media analytics tools. Measure engagement, reach, and user interactions to gauge the success of your strategy and identify areas for improvement.
Creating a strategy for viral hashtags is a dynamic process that combines creativity, audience insights, and timely execution. By understanding your audience, leveraging trending topics, and crafting authentic and engaging hashtags, you can enhance your social media presence and unlock the potential for viral marketing success. Stay adaptable, experiment with different approaches, and continuously monitor the results to refine your strategy and drive your brand towards viral success on social media. So, get ready to go viral and take your brand to new heights with the power of strategic hashtag marketing!
Building a hashtag ladder for hashtag research
This is a little know trick to help you develop your hashtag strategy so lets do it together.
- Brainstorm all those words you think would work well for your business
- Using your top 10, search them on instagram, and list how many posts are associated with them
- Head to the free hashtag search tool – display purposes – to see what suggestions they give you. They rank the hashtags for you, ranking them by relevance and popularity.
- You want to create a sort of a “ladder” if you post your post into a pool of hash tags that have 2.2million posts, chances are unlikely you will be featured. But if you combine that (the luck) with smaller hashtags combinations, you will create almost a ladder effect in the algorithm – so go back and rank your hashtags from smallest – 2000 posts eg, to 2.2 million posts. You have 30 hashtags to use – so use all 30 wisely.
- Have a rotating pool of about 50, because if you consistently post one set of 30 over and over, Instagram decreases your visibility.
- Use your statistics to check which grouping worked the best and the details that were associated with
This strategy is supported by Karlyn Williams, Founder & Lead Strategist, Oh Snap! Social who suggests the following for hashtag ladders;
When it comes to hashtags it’s all about balance. When doing research, you should have a balance of popular hashtags (100,000 number of posts) and not so popular hashtags (1000-50000 number of posts). As a hack, I keep a list of different categories of hashtags in my notes that are relevant for my business and audience to add as a first comment for better discoverability.
What do the experts suggest for Hashtag strategies?
Think of Hashtags like keywords on google
Mordecai Holtz , Chief Digital Strategist, Blue Thread Marketing says
The best way is to view hashtags like keywords. The same words you want to rank on Google for, those are the industry terms you want to rank high on social. Produce a list of 20 hashtags/ keywords and then start searching the hashtags based on audience, competitors, and which industry leaders are already using. The more focused the hashtag, the higher the engagement of the readers/ viewers.
Look at your competition, what are they using and how are they using it?
Analyzing the hashtags your competition is using can provide valuable insights into their social media strategy and help you identify potential opportunities to improve your own hashtag strategy. Here are several ways you can analyze the hashtags your competitors are using:
- Manually Review Competitor Posts: Visit the social media profiles of your competitors and review their recent posts. Take note of the hashtags they are using in their captions or comments.
- Use Social Media Platforms’ Search Function: On platforms like Instagram and Twitter, you can search for your competitor’s profile or their branded hashtag to find posts where they have used specific hashtags.
- Hashtag Analytics Tools: Some third-party hashtag analytics tools, like Hashtagify or Socialinsider, offer features that allow you to track and analyze the hashtags used by your competitors. These tools can provide insights into the performance of their hashtags, reach, engagement, and top posts.
- Social Media Management Tools: If you use a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social, you may have access to features that allow you to monitor competitor profiles and track the hashtags they use.
- Monitor Competitor Campaigns: Keep an eye on your competitor’s hashtag campaigns or promotions. Look for specific branded hashtags they are using to track user-generated content related to their brand.
- Check Trending and Top Posts: Explore trending hashtags and top posts related to your industry or niche. Analyze which of your competitors’ posts are ranking high under those hashtags.
- Observe Hashtag Changes: Monitor if your competitors make changes to their hashtag strategy over time. This could give you insights into their efforts to optimize their social media performance.
- Analyze Engagement: Look at the engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares) on your competitor’s posts and compare them to the hashtags they used. Identify which hashtags seem to be generating the most interaction.
- Identify Niche-Specific Hashtags: Pay attention to niche-specific hashtags that your competitors are using. These can provide valuable insights into their target audience and niche market.
- Track Seasonal and Event-Related Hashtags: Observe which seasonal or event-related hashtags your competitors use during holidays, industry events, or specific campaigns.
By analyzing your competitors’ hashtag usage, you can gain a better understanding of their social media strategy, the hashtags that resonate with their audience, and potential opportunities for your own hashtag optimization. Use this information to refine your hashtag strategy, experiment with new tags, and create engaging content that attracts your target audience. Keep in mind that social media trends and strategies evolve, so continuous monitoring and analysis are essential to staying competitive in your industry.
There’s a lot of research that goes into building a hashtag strategy. First, it starts with monitoring your competitors what are they using? To make things a little more quantifiable, at Digital Radar, we use a tool called Hashtagify – it’s a powerful tool that allows you to see the depth and breadth of the reach of a particular hashtag, how it’s used, and who the top influencers that are using it… If you’re not using it, most likely your hashtag strategy is misinformed
This is theory of competition supported by the opinions of Reesy Floyd-Thompson, The Digital Wonder Woman
Competitor analysis is the key to good hashtag research and two of the best tools for this are Instagram and Plann. Find profiles that are similar to the product or service you offer. Review hashtags that are relevant to your offer. Make sure the photos under the hashtag are appropriate. Instagram gives suggestions for related hashtags. Make a list and use accordingly. Similarly, Plann is a mobile app that allows you to review your competitors hashtags to see which ones are performing well. As with anything in marketing, it’s good ole trial and error. Make sure to use a mix of hashtags and switch them up where necessary.
Its clear that competition is important, and checking out what your competitors are doing in your niche is critical says Bobbi Ridgeway, our Social Media Manager HereComesTheGuide.com;
I like to take a peek at the hashtags our competitors are using, but I also search through commonly used hashtags in the Instagram app and check them out. You can see the number of times each hashtag has been used to determine popularity. I use hashtags that aren’t oversaturated (like ones that have less than a million uses as opposed to 10 million), aren’t too generic (#cute, #fun, #lol), and sometimes, ones that are trending (#RoyalWedding, #PumpkinSpiceLatte, #ValentinesDay).
Getting granular with hashtags is best practice, since using super popular hashtags only results in getting your brand buried in a sea of identical tags. Looking for tags with medium and even low popularity that are super specific to your post/niche are the ones that’ll get you found.
Aside from that, another best practice is to use your own branded hashtags on each and every post.
Lets look at some hashtag research tools, and hashtag generators
Obviously when looking for easy Instagram hashtag strategy ideas, you’ll want something that can help you generate some ideas for hashtags especially when starting out. So googling hashtag pickers or hashtag generators can be a little bit hit or miss and you might get frustrustrated. So we found some great free ones you can use to make sure you are getting the best from your hashtags.
Our personal favorite: Display purposes – totally free and ranks your hashtags by popularity and relevance. You can search by geographical region or hashtags that link together through a sort of root system.
Ritetag is another free tool with an extension download. You can either type a caption or a insert an image and it will suggest hashtags or generate hashtags for you.
Hashtagify can be somewhat free and there is obviously a paid version – it ranks the hashtag on recent popularity, who is using it at the moment, and how its been trending – I like that you can see where the hashtag is most popular geographically and which influencers have been using it the most.
Trendsmap doesn’t give you a great deal of insight into the hashtag itself, but does give you a good idea of current popular hashtags in an area or region. It’s free and helps show you what people are talking about.
What happens when hashtags don’t work?
This is called “shadow ban” or banned hashtags. This means that the content associated with hashtags might be blocked by Instagram because of concerns for its users. Whats funny is come can be banned forever, and some might only be down temporarily. For example #desk and #workflow are banned. If you search for it in the explore page and no tags come up? It’s probably a banned hashtag and one you shouldn’t be using.
When hashtags don’t work well, it means that they are not achieving the desired results in terms of increasing visibility, engagement, or reach of your social media posts. Several factors can contribute to hashtags not performing as expected:
1. Low Visibility: If you use obscure or overly niche hashtags, it might limit the visibility of your posts. Fewer people may be searching for or following these hashtags, leading to reduced exposure for your content.
2. Overused Hashtags: On the other hand, using extremely popular and generic hashtags may result in your posts getting buried among countless others. Your content may get lost in the sea of posts under these heavily used hashtags.
3. Irrelevant Hashtags: Using hashtags that are not directly related to your content or target audience can lead to disinterest and reduced engagement. Your posts may be perceived as spammy or unrelated, leading users to ignore or skip them.
4. Banned Hashtags: Some hashtags may be banned or restricted due to misuse or inappropriate content associated with them. If you use banned hashtags, your posts may not appear in search results, limiting their reach.
5. Inconsistent Branding: Inconsistency in using branded hashtags or lack of a cohesive hashtag strategy can result in missed opportunities for building brand awareness and recognition.
6. Timing: Posting at times when your target audience is not active on social media can result in lower engagement for your posts, regardless of the hashtags used.
7. Hashtag Stuffing: Overloading your posts with excessive hashtags (known as hashtag stuffing) can make your content look spammy and unprofessional. This may deter users from engaging with your posts.
8. Lack of Engagement: If your posts do not receive initial engagement (likes, comments, shares) shortly after posting, social media algorithms may reduce their visibility, impacting hashtag performance.
9. Platform-Specific Differences: Different social media platforms have varying hashtag usage patterns and trends. What works well on one platform may not necessarily work the same way on another.
10. Change in Algorithm: Social media platforms often update their algorithms, which can affect how posts and hashtags are displayed to users. A change in algorithm may impact hashtag reach and visibility.
What to Do When Hashtags Don’t Work:
- Analyze and Adjust: Regularly review the performance of your hashtags and identify which ones are not performing well. Adjust your hashtag strategy based on the data and insights gathered.
- Experiment with New Hashtags: Try using different combinations of hashtags to find ones that resonate better with your audience. Include a mix of general, niche-specific, and branded hashtags.
- Monitor Trends: Stay updated on trending topics and use relevant hashtags in real-time conversations to boost your post’s visibility.
- Engage with Your Audience: Encourage your followers to use your branded hashtags, and engage with user-generated content. This fosters a sense of community and increases the reach of your hashtags.
- Stay Consistent: Maintain consistency in using branded hashtags and your hashtag strategy overall. Consistency helps build brand recognition and loyalty.
- Utilize Analytics: Leverage social media analytics tools to gain insights into your hashtag performance and make data-driven decisions.
Remember that social media strategies require continuous monitoring, analysis, and adaptation. What may not work well initially can be improved through experimentation and adjustments to your hashtag strategy. Stay flexible and open to trying new approaches to maximize the impact of your hashtags and enhance your social media presence.