How to Do Hashtag Research + Rock Your Social Media Marketing

But first...Are hashtags over?

Have you noticed that your absolutely favorite follow-worthy people never or hardly ever use hashtags? But aren't hashtags supposed to be like super important all the time for all the things you might ever want people to actually like/click/read/share?

Hashtags aren't totally over. It's just too easy to use them in a way that doesn't actually help your marketing. 


it's about quality over quantity.

Facebook is not Instagram. One hashtag is best for Facebook posts. There's a steep drop-off in engagement after that. You can still get great engagement with two or three hashtags. When you get into the several territory, you're not helping yourself at all.

Same thing goes for Twitter, as the research linked above shows. One or two hashtags are best. Anything beyond that...not so good.

LinkedIn is becoming a bit of an exception, with as many as five hashtags appearing to be helpful -- even at the footer of Pulse articles or in company About descriptions.


Hashtags won't help low-quality content.

This should go without saying. Just like how marketing won't help if your product or service isn't super awesome, hashtags won't help if your content isn't super awesome. It's better to first focus on understanding who you're creating content for, what they care about most, and where what they care about intersects with what you can offer. Once you've got that going on, put your energy into expanding your reach with hashtags and other smart social media tactics. 

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ok. so you know hashtags can help your reach. but how do you know which hashtags to use?

Research those hashtags and learn how to rock your social media marketing right. 

Step 1: Set Yourself Up

If you haven't already, add a worksheet to your content calendar for your favorite hashtags. We're going to make ourselves a lovely little list of all the hashtags you're going to use.

Why do you need a list? To save time and do this better, of course. With a handy list to review every time you sit down to schedule your posts, you'll be able to build better posts faster. And you might even find some major inspiration there, too.

If you don't already have a content calendar, consider this your invitation to start one. Here's a sample you can swipe.

Step 2: Take a Look at Yourself

Tools like Buffer {shout out!} make it super easy for you to see which posts have performed best for you, on every channel you use.

Decide which metrics matter to you most -- like reach {the number of people who saw saw your stuff} or clicks {the number of times people clicked your posts to see more of your stuff}. 

In Buffer, all you have to do is click to sort by your favorite metric. 

Scroll through those babies and note which hashtags you used in the best-performing posts. Log them in your beautiful little spreadsheet.

Step 3: Take a Gander at the Competition

Now, you know that we believe in allies more than competition. There are enough people on this planet that we each can build our own little micro-community of people who need us. But back to the point.

Decide who you respect, who's talking to the same people you are. Whether you consider them competitors or allies. And see what they're up to.

If you value Facebook the most, just look there. If you're everywhere or in a few places, pick the ones that make the most sense.

You can look at just a few folks, or a dozen. It's up to you and how much time you want to spend on this.

The point is to take a look at how they're doing this stuff. What hashtags are they using? Are they getting much lift when they use those hashtags? When you click through on those hashtags, do you see a lot of valuable content that you'd like to be associated with?

Step 4: Check out your dream clients

We talk a lot about dream clients around these parts, don't they? Well, they're pretty important! I mean, they're kind of the whole point of all this marketing.

So. In addition to checking out what your allies and competitors are doing, take a look at the people you actually want to be talking with. What are your dream clients talking about? What hashtags are they using in their posts or sharing from others?

Of course, to do this, you have to know who your dream clients are. If you don't yet, start there. If you do, choose a few and see what they're up to.

Step 5:  Be Choosey

Just because someone you really respect is using #throwbackthursday and #motivationmonday or #wisdomwednesday every week without fail, that does not mean that you have to do the same.

You need to do what works for you. And, frankly, those super generic hashtags rarely really work for people trying to build a super-specific micro-community of super-dedicated fans -> clients.

This is especially important if you've got a limited amount of time to put towards your social media marketing. Do the least possible for the greatest impact possible. Use the hashtags that are most likely to get you in front of the most right people...not just the most people.

And if you're not sure whether those hashtags you've put on your list are worth it, check them out over at RiteTag. This free tool will tell you which hashtags to use on Twitter and Instagram.

For instance, if you're into school marketing, you might think #schoolmarketing is a super cool hashtag. Well, on Twitter and Instagram, not so much. But never fear. RiteTag offers up alternatives and separates them by the ones that'll get you seen now and the ones that'll get you seen with steady focus over time

try a hashtag strategy. see what happens. 

As with all things marketing, There are no hard and fast rules. the key is to experiment and find what works for you.

You could opt out of the hashtag race altogether.

The inbound marketing geniuses at Hubspot don't use hashtags for their Facebook posts, so maybe you don't need to either. Then again, maybe you're a bit earlier on in your journey to build a following than Hubspot is. Still, just a reminder that sometimes the only right rule to follow is to break all the rules.

But before you decide hashtags aren't worth it, give them a try.

At least try them on the one social channel that's most valuable to you {that's the place where your dream clients are most likely to hang out}. Track what happens with the posts that have hashtags vs. the ones that don't; the posts that have two or three hashtags vs. the ones that only have one. Do you see more likes, clicks, or shares on any of those?

Do what works for you.

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