How To Grow Your Audience Using Hashtags
As a marketer or entrepreneur, earning new followers on social media is likely to be one of your top ongoing goals. You can generate all of the great content in the world, but without viewers to engage with it, you aren’t going to get very far. You can spend a lot of time, and budget, trying to get your content seen, but audiences want to see “social credit” and know that the profiles and companies they follow are valuable and worth their time and the key way they determine this is by the credibility you already have – aka your existing follower base.
There really is no substitute or fast way to earn this type of profile. You need to take the time to understand those you are targeting, put out great content, gain their attention and earn their shares. Growing your audience is a labour of love that your potential audience wants to feel. You don’t have to love social media, you need to love what you do and share that passion with others who need what you have to sell.. And hopefully help them to love it too!
You know you need to get on social and build an audience, but what next?
There are several paid avenues, but for today, we are going to focus on the most effective FREE way to find your dream audience – hashtags!
A hashtag is added to your social posts to indicate the topic(s) your post is talking about or related to. On most platforms, hashtags can be followed so using them can give you access to those followers that your pages do not have yet. Hashtags also help the platform determine trending topics and add relevance to your post as important to certain audiences. Hashtags are how platforms sort and filter content and how searchers find it. Hitting a trending hashtag at the right time can make a MASSIVE difference in how much organic traction your post gets, but it is equally important to use highly specific hashtags as they are more likely to catch the attention of your ideal customer and bring them to your page to follow and continue to engage with your brand. At the end of the day, hashtagging is about attracting the right audience to your content so they will engage with it – less really is more.
So how do you determine the right hashtags to use?
Each platform has a different guidelines for hashtags, but there are some key tips to follow in general:
1. Check out the hashtags that the influencers in your industry are using
2. Use the same non-branded tags that your competitors are using
3. Find a mix of generic tags like #food, #marketing, #summer and more specific tags like #poutine, #influencermarketing or #patioseason for your posts
4. Don’t use hashtags that are not relevant to your post and don’t use the same ones over and over
Facebook only likes 1-2 hashtags per post so find the most relevant to what your content relates to AND how your target audience would search for it
Instagram allows up to 30 tags, but recommendations are for closer to 11 at most. The main point here is to ensure the tags you use are putting your content into the feeds of those who want to engage with it. Find the best hashtags for your content on Instagram by using the Search function, typing in the best keyword to describe your content, click Tags and it will give you a list of related tags and how many posts have used that tag. Choose from highly popular and less used, more niche tags.
Twitter is similar to Facebook in that less is definitely more. Use hashtags wisely as they use up your 280 character count and Twitter likes about 1-2 per post for the best engagement rates. Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag and it is the platform that uses them most heavily to categorize and sort posts to be served.
If you are a B2B business, you will definitely want to build your LinkedIn audience. LinkedIn falls somewhere in the middle on hashtag counts, with no more than 5-10 being the sweet spot. LinkedIn also allows your business to select 3 hashtags to attach to your profile. You are able to reply to threads, comment and post to these tags, so choose wisely as they will be your best source of finding new followers
Hashtag research can be time consuming, especially if your brand has various offerings or is trying to reach multiple verticals. Using a hashtag research tool is definitely the fastest way to find trending topics and lock in on the best tags to promote your content, find engagement and earn valuable followers. Here are a few of our favourites:
You can use Hashtagify to search for hashtag popularity, trends, and correlations. You can enter a suggested hashtag, and Hashtagify scrapes all related data from both Instagram and Twitter. This provides you with a detailed report on users of the hashtag. It will suggest top influencers who use the hashtag, and how their followers engage with the hashtag. It also recommends other relevant hashtags that influencers use.
Iconsquare provides a full set of analytics tools for Instagram and Facebook. It gives you a wealth of knowledge about your online following.
It follows a hashtag’s growth across posts, videos, and photos. It can show you the most influential posts relating to a hashtag. It will even visualize where people are posting using your hashtags. It allows you to monitor the engagement relating to the hashtags you use.
One caveat we’ll add here is that though a topic is trending, if it’s not relevant or important to your audience and your business, don’t use it. While it’s great to ride the wave of popular topics, it’s more important that your audience sees you as authentic… and overusing unrelated hashtags will actually hurt your posts within the platforms algorithm.
Our best advice is to research key hashtags that are important to the audience you want to reach and have a large volume of followers. Use those consistently, then layer on other hashtags relating to topics you may talk about less often. Check in consistently for trending topics and tie in your posts to them, where it makes sense to do so. Like everything else on social media, things change rapidly so check in often, measure your results and make adjustments when the effectiveness starts to slip.