I’ve heard a lot of crazy stuff when it comes to researching #hashtags on social media. In this article I’m going to share some best practices for conducting hashtag research for your social marketing strategy in 2020 and into the future.
Hashtags are powerful when used correctly. I’m going to share how to find the best hashtags and not look like spam online.
My goal is to share some best practices for conducting hashtag research for your social media strategy in 2020.
Some other things I hope you’ll learn are:
- Why hashtags are valuable.
- How hashtags can amplify your posts on social media.
- What hashtag “research” actually involves.
Above: How to research valueable hashtags for your cannabis business online.
Creating Hashtags For Your Cannabis Business.
Creating new hashtags for your marijuana business is easy. I recommend creating some new hashtags that are closely aligned with your business.
I don’t generally recommend these to simply be your business name. If your business name is Sarah’s Dispensary, it doesn’t make much sense to hashtag #SarahsDispensary because it’s literally the name of your business. This is negative for two reasons:
- Your social media handle probably already is @SarahsDispensary. A duplicate hashtag is redundant and does nothing for the brand.
- We’re creating this hashtag from scratch. Make it something others might use when talking about cannabis online, or make it more general where others can relate in the industry.
If I were Sarah, and one of the differentiators of my craft cannabis dispensary compared to the big corporate players might be that we’re a small, locally owned cannabis retailer. Let’s use this dichotomy to our advantage.
A hashtag like #WomenInWeed or #SupportCraftCannabis opens our business to consumers that might not be familiar with our marijuana brand.
Why Hashtags Are Valuable In Marketing.
Hashtags are like the folder labels in a filing cabinet.
They’re user-defined labels that help the world organize & discover content on social networks. Hashtags are used on all social media networks including Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
For your business’ marketing strategy, we’re interested in getting lots of people to discover you via the hashtags you choose. Picking the right hashtags can get your posts in front of the right audience and grow your brand.
When an interested user taps on a hashtag on their phone, they are presented with a feed of posts that include that specific hashtag.
The popularity of your social posts and your profile on that specific network will impact where your content is displayed on this feed.
The magic of hashtag research is finding the most popular hashtags that your page can rank for on social media. This can open your brand to others who are interested but unfamiliar.
It can be difficult to sort through the endless supply of hashtags and find a few that are actually valuable for your business. That’s where a little bit of research can pay off in huge ways with your social media strategy.
How To Research A Hashtag For Your Social Strategy.
Your evaluation of a hashtag for your cannabis business is based on three factors:
- The total number of posts with that hashtag.
- The average likes per post for your hashtag.
- The average comments per post.
The engagement (likes & comments) your posts tend to get on average will dictate your success with that hashtag. The fastest way to gauge the temperature of a hashtag is to simply search your tag on Instagram and inspect the top posts.
If your page averages 100 likes/post and the posts on your proposed hashtag are consistently racking up 1000’s of likes, your post won’t be found.
It should be mentioned you can hack the Instagram algorithm by getting a fraction of the average hashtag engagement in a small amount of time. If played right, you can hack your post onto more popular hashtags by over-performing on a set of smaller hashtags.
Use A Hashtag Research App Like Ritetag.
Ritetag is my favorite free hashtag research tool for a few reasons.
- Ritetag pulls hashtag data from Twitter AND Instagram!
- They have a super handy web of related hashtags.
- The color-coded hashtags are great for beginners.
Although the color-coded system could be too dull for the powerhouse marketer… that person would probably be fine paying for a fancier hashtag app.
The purpose of this app is to widen the net and help us understand what hashtags are related and commonly used together. The tag #budtender has 194,000 posts and an engagement average way beyond where my page tends to perform.
That doesn’t mean we can’t find some low-hanging fruit by sorting through the related hashtags.
Creating Hashtag Sets To Recycle Throughout Your Marketing.
My trick to easily organize your researched hashtags is by filtering them into sets loosely based around a category. This is why our research is fueled by related tags and Ritetag’s suggestion web. To amplify engagement, I curate hyper-specific hashtag sets to use with different content.
Posting a cannabis growing tip? Use the #weedgrowing set. Posting a marketing article you want dispensary employees to see? Use the #dispensarymarketing set. You get the idea. The more specific your sets are, the better your related hashtags will work to boost each other as your post gathers engagement.
While Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, I don’t recommend getting anywhere close to this max for fear of being flagged by Instagram.
This strategy will work best for a page with 1000’s of followers and active engagement. If you’re reconnecting with your audience and working to increase engagement, you may have to adjust these numbers in equal proportions to better fit your page’s performance.
If your page is brand new, build hashtag sets with 10%-20% of the average posts. This will level the playing field and give your page a chance to attract new followers. If your page has 100’s of followers, build sets with ~50% of the average posts mentioned below.
For most sets, I prefer to create groups of about 15 hashtags, with tags from each of the following buckets:
- 3 – Less than 50k posts.
- 3 – Less than 200k posts.
- 3 – Less than 500k posts.
- 3 – More than 500k posts.
- 1 – More than 1 million posts.
- A few crazy relevant tags, regardless of engagement.
Make lots of these sets. At least 5-10 sets if you’re posting daily. Recycle these sets across your Instagram posts. You can get away with 3-5 sets if you’re sporadically posting and figuring out your strategy.
The fewer hashtag sets you create the more spammy you could look as you increase post frequency. Oh, and did I mention the whole point of doing the hashtag research is to get your post in front of new audiences? Now go make a few extra hashtag sets.
You can hack the algorithm with a fraction of the engagement in a small amount of time.
It should be mentioned you can hack the Instagram algorithm.
The process involves getting a fraction of the average hashtag engagement in a tiny amount of time.
If played right, you can hack your post onto more popular hashtags by over-performing on a set of smaller hashtags.
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