4 Steps To Performing Effective Hashtag Research

Do you know users can follow hashtags on social media? Today, you'll learn the top 4 steps to performing effective hashtag research.

Updated on July 25, 2022
4 Steps To Performing Effective Hashtag Research

Do you know users can follow hashtags on social media? This means whenever a post is made containing a hashtag they follow, they will get a notification of that post. It makes it easier to find the content they’re interested in. In this article, you’ll learn the top 4 steps to performing effective hashtag research.

4 Steps To Performing Effective Hashtag Research

That means, as a marketer, you can use hashtags to your advantage. In fact, hashtags are not limited to social media anymore. You can also use them in your email sequences to complement your broader digital marketing strategy.

You will reach a wider audience when you post on social media using targeted hashtags as part of your content distribution strategy. That translates to more visibility and engagement for your content. 

Why use a hashtag? 

Hashtags help bring a community of like-minded people together. When someone searches for a hashtag, they will find various posts and content on a specific topic. They can retrieve photos and listen to what people on the topic are saying. 

In other words, if you want your content to be found, you need to use the same hashtags your target audience is using in your post. Hashtags can ultimately make your content visible to the right people. That means with the right hashtags, you can ensure that the right people engage with your content.

That’s why hashtag research is so important.

How to implement an effective hashtag research strategy in 4 easy steps

Before we look into how you can conduct effective hashtag research, you need to know that you need to be on the same platform as your target audience for your hashtag research to be effective in the first place. Nowadays, that’s either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Instagram and Twitter remain the most recognized in terms of hashtag marketing. Planoly reports that Instagram posts with hashtags generate 12% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. This number might seem insignificant, but it does have tangible effects on your bottom line. 

Let’s assume you’re already on the same platform your audience is using. Now here’s how you can perform effective hashtag research:

Effective Hashtag Research Step 1: Use a root hashtag

A root hashtag is a word or phrase you think of when categorizing your business. You can determine your brand root hashtag by searching for content related to yours.

There are different types of hashtags: 

  • Content hashtags: These are directly related to things found in the post
  • Industry hashtags: These are specific to your industry and clients
  • Niche hashtags: These are specific to your target audience
  • Branded hashtags: These are specific to your brand and content

Your root hashtag can belong to one of the types listed above. For instance, if your business sells pet supplies, you can use the root hashtag #petsupplies, which could either be a content hashtag or an industry hashtag. You may also use #petlovers as a root hashtag to reach your target audience. Finally, you may use your brand name as a root hashtag – but only if you feel that your brand is strong enough to be recognized easily.

Step 2: Use Google to search for similar hashtags

While people don’t usually associate Google with hashtags, you can perform Google searches with hashtags to bring up social media posts and pages containing them. 

For example, searching for “cats” will give you the official website for the Broadway musical Cats and the Wikipedia article for the domestic cat:

In contrast, the top result for “#cats” contains Twitter posts containing the hashtag:

When conducting hashtag research, you can follow this process to search for hashtags that are related to the ones you’re currently using:

You may also want to search for your hashtag minus the pound (#) sign and go through the list of related keywords at the bottom of the page:

It is essential to know that the examples above might not apply to all niches, but this approach is worth trying. You are free to tweak the search keyword to suit your particular niche. You can also use rank tracking software to find high-ranking keywords that you can use as hashtags for your social media campaigns.

Effective Hashtag Research Step 3. Perform sentiment analysis

Just like social media platforms are busiest at specific times of the day, many hashtags see increased usage at certain times. When you use these hashtags, more people are likely to see your content. You can join the conversation at the right time.

However, you can’t just post content with your chosen hashtags during the busiest parts of the day. You also need to read the room and determine how people feel about your hashtag. This process, called sentiment analysis, can help you craft engaging and sensitive content. 

While you can take a quick look at the top posts for your hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to determine engagement, you will need to analyze these posts in-depth to determine audience sentiment. If you don’t have the luxury of time to do that (just like most of us), you can use a dedicated sentiment analysis tool instead. 

RiteTag is one such tool that lets you see how a specific hashtag has been performing over the past 24 hours: 

In addition to giving you usage and exposure statistics. RiteTag uses AI to determine user sentiment for a hashtag over a specific time frame. 

While this service is paid, it’s ultimately a small price to pay in exchange for valuable information. That can affect your hashtag campaign strategies:

Step 4. Think outside the box

The results are in. You have completed your hashtag research. Now it is time to take action. You need to get creative with your hashtag ideas. At this point, you are free to brainstorm your list and come up with more hashtags you think suit your brand. 

Here’s how: Look for similarities between your niche and a related niche. For example, if you’re running a small digital marketing business. So, you can use the hashtags #digitalmarketing #emailmarketing #entrepreneurship #smallbusiness #onlinebusiness in your social media campaigns. 

Simply stated, think of the service you are providing. Then try to link it up with a similar service related to what you are doing. If you are a digital marketer and own a marketing agency, you are an entrepreneur. Adding #entrepreneur to your post can help give you more visibility. The idea is to get as creative as possible to help you reach a wider audience.

Conversely, you can add your location to your hashtag to attract a local audience. For example, the hashtag #dogsofvienna is more likely to attract canine lovers from the Vienna metropolitan area than just #dogs. That is particularly useful if you’re promoting a local business and would like to attract foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.

Choosing the best time to publish your content

Even if you have the right hashtags, you still need to know the best time to post your content to get the most out of each of your posts. You don’t want to post content randomly without a concrete plan. Like the old saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

Ideally, it’s better to post your content with hashtags when these hashtags are popular to ensure your content is found. There are hashtag research tools that allow you to see the popularity of hashtags for a specific period. For instance, Brand24 allows you to count how many posts or Tweets used a specific hashtag for a specific time frame. Digimind also helps you monitor the popularity of a hashtag and its related hashtags.

That’s not to say that’s the only strategy you can use. Since Instagram, for instance, has become better at suggesting content feeds depending on user behavior, it may also be worthwhile to post content at a time Instagram Insights finds most effective while focusing on less popular hashtags that are relevant. 

The key is to implement both strategies and see which yields better results.

Conclusion

Including the right hashtags increases your chances of reaching a wider audience and generating higher engagement for your post. That’s why hashtag research is so important.

Hashtag research starts with determining a root hashtag for your social media accounts. You can use Google to search for keywords you can use as hashtags on top of those you’re already using. Third, you need to perform sentiment analysis to ensure that your content is sensitive and appropriate. Once you’ve found your hashtags, you can brainstorm even more hashtags. 

Follow these tips, and the hashtags you use will be on point. If you post your content at the right time at the same time, you’ll see that your hashtag marketing will yield results.