Hashtags have now been around for over a decade. The first hashtag was used by Chris Messina in August of 2007 on Twitter. Chris had the idea to use a hashtag to categorize a group’s discussion or an online conversation on Twitter. Over the years hashtags have spread from Twitter across multiple online platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, as well as entering into our text and verbal communications.
Hashtags were originally meant for discussing certain events or topics of conversation. While this is still the case on many social networks, hashtags are becoming exceedingly popular being used to further describe the subject of a post or to create a humorous bit. Many of these hashtags become one-off hashtags that aren’t found on multiple social media posts. While this is creative and fun on a casual communication level, they don’t add value to your business’ social media posts. These hashtags won’t get your content seen.
However, there are two types of hashtags your business should be using to help increase the reach of your content.
1. Common use hashtags
A common use hashtag is a hashtag that has the highest count of usage across a particular social media network. Common use hashtags can have thousands or even millions of posts that contain a specific hashtag in the post description. Sometimes these can be popular words or phrases to categorize a certain subject; for example: #bunnies, #rabbit #bunnylove
To determine what the common use hashtags are for your business, start with listing out possible hashtags for your industry. Next research how many posts are currently using each hashtag on a particular social network. For example, on Instagram you can type the hashtag into the search bar and Instagram will give you the current number of posts that contain the searched hashtag. Add this number next to the hashtag name. Creating a small chart like the pictured example will create a visual representation of which hashtags are the most popular in your industry.
* Note: If you are using Instagram and Twitter in your social media strategy, make sure to research your hashtags for Twitter and Instagram separately. Hashtags that are popular on Instagram are not always popular on Twitter.
2. High growth hashtags
High growth hashtags are hashtags that don’t necessarily have the highest count of posts but are growing at a faster rate than other hashtags. High growth hashtags are a good indication for where a current conversation or trend is taking place. If you can identify high growth hashtags for your industry, you will have the opportunity to join an active online conversation and greatly increase the reach of your content.
To determine which hashtags from your common use hashtag list are also high growth hashtags, add two more columns to your chart. Wait 24 hours and recheck the post count for each hashtag. Add this number in the next column. After inserting all the numbers into the chart, you can then calculate the growth rate percentage with the formula below:
Growth Rate Percentage = (New Post Count – Original Post Count/Original Post Count) * 100
Calculate the growth rate percentage for each hashtag and insert into the last column of the chart. Identify which percentages are the highest. Identify which hashtags have the highest use count and which hashtags have the highest growth rate. Are they the same hashtags?
*Note: It is best practice to calculate high growth hashtags for your industry once a quarter to make sure you are still using the fastest growing hashtags.
Calculating common use and high growth hashtags will give you a solid plan for utilizing hashtags on your social media posts and working towards increasing your content reach. Using a combination of each type of hashtag is best practice. If you have any questions about setting up a hashtag strategy, contact us for a free consultation.