Hashtags have become a central part of social media strategies today; this has brought about the concept of businesses developing a hashtag strategy for social media. These simple keywords have the power to expand the reach of your content when used effectively within marketing campaigns. Whether you have goals to build your online community or improve your reach, having a strong hashtag strategy can help you achieve these, along with engaging content and consistent posting.

It’s important to note that throwing together a string of random hashtags on your captions will not reap significant benefits. You need a strategic approach focused on driving real impact through visibility, engagement and conversions. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore why you need an intentional hashtag strategy; how to set hashtag goals tailored to your brand objectives; tips for researching and creating viral hashtags suited to your target audience; and best practices for integrating hashtags seamlessly across your social media content. With the right hashtag strategy, you can develop branded hashtag identities, expand your organic reach, and track the ROI on both your online marketing campaigns and hashtags themselves. 

Why You Need a Hashtag Strategy

The social media landscape is becoming more saturated every day and simply creating quality content isn’t enough. You need to maximise reach and engagement through strategic techniques and find constant new ways to help your target audience find you and connect with your brand. This is where adopting a hashtag strategy for social media comes in.

Some reasons as to why a hashtag strategy is necessary for social media success:

  • Boost discovery and reach more users: Hashtags help users easily find content and like-minded communities around topics they are interested in. Including relevant hashtags makes it more likely your content will be discovered by your target audience.
  • Drive engagement and interaction: Hashtags can help spark conversations, encourage likes, comments, saves, and shares which helps to boost your content’s engagement. When users engage with your posts, this helps to create that sense of community amongst your follower base.
  • Build brand awareness: You can help drive brand awareness through using brand-specific hashtags. Claiming these unique hashtags enable you to grow your brand identity and encourage user-generated content.
  • Track campaign performance: You can use hashtags to track content engagement, impressions, shares, and more. This allows you to see where your campaign reach is at.
  • Monitor trends and make your page unique: Keeping a check on trending topics and hashtags in your industry enables you to capitalise on things that are currently trending by creating your own unique content based on these trends.
What is a Hashtag?

Defining Hashtag Goals and Target Audience 

Before you develop a hashtag strategy, you’ll want to ensure you have specific objectives set. These objectives need to align with your overall social media marketing goals, and they must be measurable so you can track their progress. Common hashtag strategy goals include:

  • Increase brand awareness (e.g. through use of brand hashtags)
  • Drive website traffic (e.g. through industry-relevant hashtags)
  • Enhance engagement (e.g. through hashtags that instruct the user to do something)
  • Promote specific products or services (e.g. through incorporating product-specific hashtags in your caption)

You’ll then need to define your target audience in relation to their needs, desires, interests, and online behaviour and look at the ways you can tailor hashtags to enhance their relevance to your audience. Consider factors like:

  • Age: Tailor your hashtag selection to the age group you’re aiming your content to
  • Location: Use location-specific hashtags to connect with users in your area
  • Gender: Consider integrating gender-specific hashtags or gender-neutral alternatives

By aligning your hashtag goals with your target audience, you can create a more detailed and targeted hashtag strategy that will effectively reach and engage the right people, leading to improved social media performance.

Someone sitting on their phone
It’s important to define business goals and your target audience before developing a hashtag strategy for social media

Identify Relevant and Effective Hashtags 

The next step is to conduct research to identify the most relevant hashtag opportunities suited to your brand and your audience. The hashtags you incorporate should be a balance between topics that your audience is interested in, as well as aligning it with your business goals and objectives. Here are some guidelines we’ve curated to help you:

  • Use long-tail hashtags: These will be less competitive and are more specific to shorter, generic hashtags which will make them more likely to reach your target audience.
  • Combine branded and industry-specific hashtags: Create a brand-specific hashtag to help build brand awareness and encourage user-generated content, but also industry-specific ones to help connect with potential customers.
  • Use hashtag research tools: Platforms such as BuzzSumo, Brand24, and Hashtagify can provide valuable insights on popular and trending hashtags.
  • Monitor other Instagram users: Take a look at what popular influencers and what your competitors are doing with hashtags to see what resonates with their audiences.
  • Adapt hashtags based on platform: Social media platforms have different hashtag conventions and trends so you may want to adapt your hashtag strategy based on each social channel you’re using.
Image of someone writing on a whiteboard with a hashtag and the word relevant - creating a hashtag strategy
It’s important to have relevant hashtags to include in your hashtag strategy.

Craft Compelling Hashtag Combinations

After identifying relevant and effective hashtags for your hashtag strategy, you must create compelling combinations that maximise your reach and engagement. Here are some of our tips:

  • Mix hashtags of varying length and specificity: Include a combination of short and long-tail hashtags, as well as branded and industry-specific hashtags.
  • Employ modifiers and brackets: Use modifiers like #best #new or #explore to refine your hashtag search. Brackets also help to group related hashtags together, e.g. #fashion (#sustainablefashion #newoutfit #outfitinspo).
  • Avoid duplicates: ensure that you don’t duplicate hashtags in your combination as this can dilute your hashtags strategy and make it less effective.
  • Continuously experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different hashtags combinations and track their performance. Identify which combinations generate the most engagement and optimise your strategy accordingly.
Someone typing on their phone
Constantly experiment with new hashtag combinations to optimise your hashtag strategy

Integrating Hashtags into Your Content Strategy

Hashtags can be used in different ways throughout your social media. By integrating hashtags strategically, you can maximise their effectiveness in reaching your target audience.

  1. Use hashtags in captions and bios: Include relevant hashtags in your post captions, making them discoverable by users searching for specific topics or interests. Also incorporate them into your bio to increase the likelihood of being found when users search for your industry or brand.
  2. Use hashtags in stories: Hashtags can enhance the visibility of your stories to attract viewers and encourage interaction.
  3. Collaborate with Influencers and Brands: Partner with relevant influencers or brands to expand your reach and introduce your content to a new audience. Use each other’s hashtags to cross-promote your content and tap into each other’s networks.
  4. Natural Incorporation – Add hashtags where they fit best within copy in a way that flows naturally to augment key points.
  5. Consistency – Feature 1-3 primary branded hashtags across the majority of content to build familiarity.

Measuring Hashtag Performance and Optimisation

A hashtag strategy can only improve over time through tracking its performance. Most social media platforms will provide data around impressions and engagement for individual hashtags. Analyse your data regularly and determine which hashtags are driving the highest visibility and engagement.

Some of the key performance indicators will include:

  • Impressions (i.e. number of times tagged content is seen).
  • Engagement (engagement divided by impressions).
  • Growth (increase in followers).
  • Conversations (positive brand mentions and hashtags indicating community building).

Use these metrics to continuously improve your hashtag strategy which will then enhance discoverability, engagement, and conversions. 

Someone looking at Instagram Analytics on their phone
You can improve your hashtag strategy by monitoring insights such as engagement and impressions

Key Takeaways on Creating a Hashtag Strategy for Social Media

A hashtag strategy for social media can require an investment of research and planning, but the long-term benefits will make it worth the effort. To recap, here are the key takeaways for unlocking the power of hashtags:

  • Audit your target audience and define clear hashtag goals aligned with your business objectives.
  • Identify the right mix of branded, community and trending hashtags to incorporate in captions.
  • Get creative with layered hashtag combinations tailored to content.
  • Integrate hashtags seamlessly into social media channels in a variety of ways including posts and bios.
  • Continually track performance to optimise your hashtag strategy efforts.

By leveraging hashtags thoughtfully as integrated parts of campaigns and community engagement, you can expand organic reach, build memorable branded identities and foster relationships with your following.

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