How To Optimize Hashtags

The Creative Bar — 101

How To Optimize Hashtags

Hashtags are an effective tool for bringing visibility to your brand. If you find yourself lost in the endless abyss of hashtags, unsure of which ones to use or how to use them correctly, take a look at our quick Hashtag 101 tutorial. We’re offering a few tips on how to improve your hashtag strategy.

Search each hashtag

Check for relevance and frequency of use to make sure that they will be beneficial and that they are not shadowbanned. Instagram offers insights for the popularity of each hashtag. Before you decide to throw together random yet related hashtags for your post, check to see if they are even visible to a larger audience.

If you feel your posts are receiving less engagement or simply not appearing for certain hashtags, you were likely shadowbanned. Shadow banning, aka stealth banning, ghost banning or comment ghosting, is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user’s content on social media sites, without the user knowing. Being shadowbanned on Instagram means your content won’t appear on anyone’s feed unless they follow you. So in short, do your hashtag research before posting to prevent unnecessarily wasted content. Here is a list of banned hashtags from Instagram for 2020.

Conduct A/B testing

A/B testing has been around long before the dawn of the social media age. As we continue to understand the types of marketing material that works with our audiences, it is important to still conduct this tried and true methodology to determine what works best for brand exposure and visibility.

Depending on the platform, content, purpose and audience- the number of hashtags will vary. A/B testing is effective for determining what works best for your brand. Try using tools such as Hashtracking to track this. In some cases, brands will need to implement more hashtags per post to increase their reach and visibility whereas other audiences prefer less hashtags from the brands they follow. This will need to be determined on a case-by-case scenario. Generally, a good rule of thumb would be to avoid testing a post with hashtags versus a post without hashtags.

Remember, more is not always better in terms of quantity of hashtags. Data shows that using a few carefully tested and successful hashtags is far more effective than using a bunch of irrelevant or infrequently used ones.

Know your platforms

Just like the content you share to each platform, it is important to tailor your brand messaging for the platform and audience across different channels of your brand’s reach. When hashtags first started circulating, they were most widely used on Twitter but have now stretched across multiple platforms including Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. Although each of these platforms can house hashtags, they are not equal in their effectiveness.

All it takes is a bit of patience, the will to understand and get educated on how each platform works in relation to hashtags and the audience. We also recommend paying attention to trend based hashtags, as it will give your brand a powerful way to engage with your audience and increase your social reach at no cost other than the time it takes to learn how to use each platform to your benefit.

Determine which platforms to incorporate hashtags in:

Keep track of performance

Tracking your hashtags to determine the effectiveness is always a good idea. Using native analytics as well as implementing third party analytic tools to review the performance of these will help you to better determine the direction of your hashtag strategy. Check the Discovery tab in Instagram insights to see how your chosen hashtags perform on that platform.

It can be tricky to determine which hashtags are important to use, depending on overall content goals, target audience, and the campaign your brand is executing. Sprout Social offer’s a trends report, which allows users to see which hashtags their audience is using and how they’re performing with regard to other topics mentioned. Understanding which hashtags work for your content and your audience will give you a better direction of the interests that align between your audience and your brand.

Hashtags are one of the most incorrectly used search and discovery tools for social media content, but if used correctly, can be powerful in increasing your content’s reach and brand visibility. If you take the time to use the above tips, you can leverage them to see greater social media success. Cheers to your hashtag success and top shelf social media marketing!


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