Hashtags were introduced to Twitter in 2007 as a way to categorize messages and allow users to easily find conversations of interest. It didn’t take long for hashtags themselves to start signalling puns, sarcasm or providing additional context.
Since their inception, hashtags have been an easy way to navigate through infinite content on social media, primarily Twitter. As time went on, hashtags became an important part of marketing & PR campaigns, social media challenges, trending topics, and so on.
Sending out a key message in as few words as possible is a challenge for every marketer – and hashtags are a perfect medium to do just that. Hashtags can increase your customer engagement, help the target audience to find your brand, add context to your posts, you name it. Pretty much every campaign today has an associated hashtag, and many times the number of hashtag mentions is often a KPI for marketers.
But how does one come up with great hashtags, track hashtags, measure their performance, and find useful insights? To many, this is still a mystery. That’s why Mediatoolkit developed a tool that does all the hashtag tracking for you. It enables you to find all mentions and does all the measuring work. You can also create beautiful hashtag reports that look something like this. (The link contains a 6-page PDF file for the hashtag #NationalDonutDay, with various graphs you can find useful).
Let’s start with defining different types of hashtags.
Types of Hashtags
Hashtags are versatile and you can use them for different purposes and activities. They can be an important part of your communications efforts and something that will attract people to engage.
Having a dedicated hashtag for your campaigns, events and similar activities makes your media monitoring much easier because most of the posts will be generated under one hashtag.
If you’re organizing an event, you might consider creating a cool hashtag that event attendees can use to share their experiences, photos, and videos. This approach will give your brand extra visibility and provide great user-generated content for you to share later!
Make sure your attendees know what’s the official hashtag of the event and encourage them to use them.
Later, you’ll be able to analyze the success of your event by hashtag tracking and analyzing the data.
Content hashtags are related to the topic of the post you’re sharing. For example, if you wrote an article about media monitoring, and want to share it on social media, you can include the #mediamonitoring hashtag so people interested in that topic would see it.
Make sure you’re using hashtags relevant to your content and your niche. Also, keep it simple. Adding 30 random hashtags won’t get you anywhere.
Hashtags are a great way to get attention for your campaign. Make sure you come up with a creative hashtag and a message that people are going to want to share.
Your campaign hashtags should be clear, easy to understand, and connected to your brand (e.g. #ShareACoke).
To find out whether your hashtag is actually working, use hashtag trackers such as Mediatoolkit. That way you’ll know if your hashtag is a hit or a miss, and possibly find insights that will help you rectify the situation.
How to Create Great Hashtags
Why do some hashtags work and others don’t? There are various reasons that can influence a hashtag’s success.
The most common issues that minimize hashtag’s success are:
- Using too many hashtags in one post
- Your hashtag is too long and unreadable
- Your hashtag is irrelevant for your brand and posts
- Your hashtag is not unique and catchy
- You didn’t research relevant topics in your niche
When it comes to researching the most relevant topics connected to your brand and your niche, there’s a little trick you can use. Detecting which keywords your audience is using can help you construct a hashtag that will catch their attention.
One of the easiest ways to find relevant keywords connected to your brand is with Mediatoolkit’s Word Cloud.
With Word Cloud, you can easily spot which keywords are used the most because the size of the word signifies the number of mentions. Meaning, the bigger the word, the more mentions it has.
Now that you have all of the relevant keywords in one place, you and your team can begin brainstorming new hashtag(s).
How Do You Track Hashtags?
Once you figure out your hashtag, you can integrate it into your social media posts. This is the time when you should also start tracking your hashtag performance to see whether it’s catching on. And you need a hashtag tracking tool for that.
“I can just click on the hashtag and see all of the posts, why would I use hashtag tracker?”
It’s a fair point – if you only want to know the number of times someone used your hashtag. But, what you’re missing out on is a myriad of other pieces of data that will give you a better and more realistic overview.
The number of mentions doesn’t necessarily tell you whether your hashtag is successful or not.
- Are mentions positive or negative?
- Is your hashtag used outside social media?
- What is the ratio of posts with your hashtag on different social media?
We could go on and on with these questions.
But, maybe the most important one is: how much time will you spend on manual hashtag tracking and analysis?
You could use that time to do something much more productive and let the hashtag trackers do the work for you.
Let us show you how.
How To Start Tracking Hashtags Performance
To start tracking, you need a tool. Mediatoolkit tracks more than 100 million sources, including Twitter in real-time. So, if your hashtag gets tweeted, Mediatoolkit immediately tracks it down and shows it in the tool.
Plus you can get notifications via mobile app, email, or Slack.
To start tracking your hashtag, all you need to do is type it in as a query.
If the hashtag has been used lately, you’ll see some results in seconds. If not, they’ll start appearing as soon as people start using your hashtag.
Being hungry while writing this, I decided to make a small analysis of the currently trending #NationalDonutDay.
As you can see, all of the #hashtags are in one place. If you’re only interested in Twitter hashtag tracking, you can set the tool to track only Twitter. Also, you can filter your feed by source, so by clicking on Twitter as a preferred source, you’ll see only those mentions in the feed.
This is helpful if you have a team tracking and responding to the hashtag (as you should if you take your campaign seriously).
Keeping track of your hashtag mentions and responding when suitable is a great practice that increases engagement and improves the chances of the campaign going viral. If someone is reading this while tracking #NationalDonutDay, keep in mind that yes, I would like a free donut and yes there is a chance that it will make you viral.
Plus, by tracking your hashtags, you can stumble upon great user-generated content that you can use for additional promotion.
How To Measure Hashtag Performance Using Mediatoolkit
Mediatoolkit’s analysis lets you or your client know what was the outcome of the campaign. To start with, let’s determine your own role in the company. Are you a global or local brand manager? Why should it matter?
As many of our customers find out really soon, the number of results can be overwhelming. Especially if the hashtag only consists of a global brand’s name, or of a commonly used catchphrase. At the moment, #NationalDonutDay has more than 10000 mentions.
Lucky for me, not as many calories.
Now, we all have our donut favorites (personal favorite is All of them. Preferably at the same time. If possible, always.). But, usually, we don’t really work for ALL of the brands. In that case, editing our query a bit might take us a long way.
For no reason whatsoever I decided to play pretend as Dunkin Donuts brand manager (let me know if they’re hiring).
Here’s how I conducted a hashtag performance analysis:
#First step: setting up queries
As I already mentioned, the first step is to set up queries. Using Boolean operators, I decided to track all of the mentions of #nationaldonutday also mentioning #dunkindonuts and its variations “Dunkin donuts” or just “dunkin”.
I also could have added some often made typos like “dnukin”, “dunking” or “omgthisissugaryheaven” to make sure I catch all of the mentions. The number of keywords one query can include is actually unlimited, making it possible to truly narrow down or widen the search when necessary.
After listing all of the results, I can further analyze how the hashtag was used. In the reports section, I checked what’s been happening for the last week and unsurprisingly, June 1st had most of the mentions.
With a report showing the previous period too, we can see the week before (or a month before if that report would suit you more) had no mentions. With something event-based as #nationaldonutday, a lack of previous mentions is to be expected.
On the other hand, if you have a long term campaign, benchmarking against your own previous efforts is a foolproof way to get your campaign going.
#Don’t forget about sentiment analysis
I also decided to check on sentiment, and guess what, it’s overwhelmingly positive. Negatives are mostly based on hating diabetes, but nevertheless, sentiment may be crucial in determining the success of a campaign. Thousands of mentions are all fun and game until you get the #McDstory type of situation.
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the sentiment of your hashtag over time. If the sentiment starts shifting to negative, you need to detect that right away and react accordingly.
#Where do hashtag mentions come from?
As obvious in the report, it’s almost all USA.
Less obvious is that by clicking on any part of the map, I can see mentions from that country alone. You can also filter your mentions by language. So, if I’m mostly interested in tweets from Brazil, I can filter them out and additionally analyze engagement there.
#Did the hashtag got noticed on social media?
Speaking of engagement, do you usually check what social network brings you the most results?
Sure, some platforms are the primary networks for hashtag overloads. But take notice of how some act faster than others. Your audience may be quite the opposite, so it’s worthwhile to get some insights for future reference.
#What about influencers?
And finally, check out if some influencers caught on using the hashtag.
The number of times the hashtag was used can be greatly influenced by the most popular influencers using it. Without Tasty, I’d probably miss out on #nationaldonutday. Without a proper ambassador, I’ll probably miss out on your campaign too. So use influencers to make sure you’re getting the right coverage. And track it using Mediatoolkit.
#Check out your competitors
Since Dunkin Donuts is not the only company selling donuts, by tracking #NationalDonutDay you can get a great insight into what your competitors are doing, and how are people reacting to them.
For example, some people may be unhappy with the service they got from your competitor(s). This is a great opportunity for you to jump in and offer them your donuts or whatever you’re selling. By being proactive, you just might get new customers!
Using hashtags in your campaigns is important for boosting your brand’s awareness and visibility. It can help you reach wider audiences and spread word of mouth. Make sure your hashtags are memorable, engaging, and have a meaningful connection to your brand.
Also, as I said over and over in this blog, make sure you’re tracking the performance of your hashtag because of the valuable information you can get about your audience, competitors, and so much more.