Oh hashtags, I still remember when they were fun and the purpose was to tell silly stories. Okay I suppose that was never really their purpose, but it’s definitely how they were used in the beginning. A picture of your home baked cookies may read #cookiesforlunch #dontjudgeme #omnomnom and #goodbyecookies – totally useless for tagging, but so much fun to write and read.
Then one day the masses realized the potential of hashtags, and a whole new world was born. Nowadays its impossible to get anywhere in your business or blog without using hashtags in some way. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and so on rely heavily on hashtags. I don’t know about you, but I have 5 distinct categories in my blog, and they don’t use the same hashtags to market. So what do you do? Search each time you post? Make things up as you go along? Input stuff and hope for the best?
Personally, I spent a few hours searching hashtags for each section, came up with approximately 30-60 hashtags for each TYPE of content I want to publish, and then organized them on a Spreadsheet. There are two main problems with this system:
- 90%+ of my blog content is on printed pages, so using a digital program to organize something didn’t work out as well. Of course I could print it, but if something changed, I’d have to go back into the program, edit it, and then reprint.
- Most of the places I’m posting to (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) are done via my mobile device. Which means I have to be on my computer to get a hold of my spreadsheet to see what hashtags I need to use.
It was time to add my hashtags to my blog binder. So I created this handy hashtag tracker, it allows me to list out all hashtags I can potentially use for a topic, including the current post count, any notes I need to make about the hashtag (only active on Tuesday’s, post after 4pm, check this account for the daily hashtag etc.), and finally which social media accounts its good for. But first, you need hashtags! So click the graphic below to download your hashtag tracker to get started and follow along with my process for finding the best hashtags!
1 |The first step to finding hashtags is to list out all of the main TYPES of content you will be posting. Are you posting articles? Do you have some distinctive categories you would be posting? Jot those down on the Brainstorm Page. Do you post quotes or personal pictures? List out everything you will be posting and need hashtags specific to. To make it easier on you, try to combine similar categories – that’s where having 30-60 unique hashtags comes in handy. I have 5 main categories on my blog, plus one additional type of content I put on Instagram, giving me 6 categories. that means everything I post will fall under one of those unique categories. You may have more, or less than me!
2 | Next, you need to create some ‘rules’ for yourself and know what to look for in a Hashtag. There are many schools of thought when it comes to hashtags, and much of it depends on the day and the social media account. I won’t make specific recommendations simply because that’s not the focus of this blog post, and that information would be dated pretty quickly. But here are some general rules that I personally follow, jot down anything you want to apply as your own rule on the Notes Page:
- Max out your use, in other words use as many hashtags as you can fit. Many sources say don’t do this – but the main reasoning is algorithms tend to penalize you for using too many by not showing you as ‘top’ or ‘trending’. However, unless that’s your main goal – it’s not very often that will happen, so instead of limiting my field in hopes of magically being featured for a minute – I maximize who will see my post instead.
- That being said, experiment! You may find that using less hashtags works for you, some may find that using more works for them. Since the algorithms are secret, the only hing you can do is experiment!
- Vary the size of the hashtag. I try to make half my list 100k+ minimum posts, and half under 20k. While popular hashtags can potentially put you in front of a lot of people, it also means its fast moving and more chance for you to get buried before ANYONE can see it. By varying the post count you ensure some move slower than others leaving more opportunity for people to see it, while also putting in popular places.
- Before deciding to use a specific hashtag – check it. Whats the history on it? Besides the total post count, is it often used use it for ‘other’ reasons besides the reason you want to use it? Do days go by without people posting to it (besides daily hashtags)? Check the ‘top’ or ‘trending’ posts, do they have 10 likes or 1k likes?
- Don’t be generic. Yes you may have cookies in your picture, but is tagging ‘cookies’ going to get you likes from your audience? Well, it may if you’re a baker – but other than that, it won’t help! Be specific to your audience and the content you are sharing.
- Limit the custom hashtags to one, maybe two if necessary. For example if I had a product and wanted my brand to be known for it, and people to share I may use #arianadagan, and if I happen to have a campaign or challenge running and my post was relevant to that – I would throw that in as well. But if its not, don’t use it. And if you’ve created additional hashtags – take a moment to consider whether they are worth it. Separate challenges is one thing, you wouldn’t cross-post using them. But if I wanted to do #arianadaganquotes and #arianadaganblogtips – its worth rethinking. Typically we create a hashtag for a specific reason, to organize something or allow other people to use it. If I posted a tip everyday, that may be worth it – but if it’s occasionally, is anyone ever really going to click it? Probably not.
- You may have to create a separate strategy for each social media account. And whats worse, you may have to test out different strategies or spend some time analyzing if something was worth your time. Or more specifically the best time to post something. Grab the FREE Ultimate Guide to Content Planning for more help here!
3 | Once you’ve separated out your categories its time to start finding hashtags! Here are the 7 main ways I find great hashtags, use the Note Page in the download to keep track of the hashtags you find:
- The best place to start finding hashtags is your competition. Look at their accounts, click pictures similar to the content you want to post, and see what they use. Write down anything catches your eye.
- Put yourself in your target markets shoes, not yours! It’s easy to think of hashtags specific to the content you have prepared, but is that necessarily the hashtag that your audience is searching to find that content? More often than not, you end up marketing to people selling the same content you are selling. Try going to your target markets accounts, finding pictures they are posting similar to the content you are sharing and see what hashtags they are using! That will get your content in front of the right audience.
- Find out whats trending. If it’s not relevant to your content, don’t use it. But it never hurts to check whats happening and see if your content can slip in!
- Check the ‘related’ section – on Instagram you can click a hashtag, and it will give you popular suggestions based on that tag. This is a great place o find more related hashtags!
- Check the ‘top’ posts, these are being featured for a reason (I hope) – its definitely worth seeing what they are doing and how it may (or may not) work for your business.
- Daily tags – a quick google search will turn up dozens of ‘daily tags’, such as #mondaymotivations and #fearlessfriday. Use these sparingly – not because they aren’t good, but because they aren’t specific to your audience and content, and will probably result in more ‘spam’ likes and follows than anything else. But they can be fun to use a theme and as you build a following, your followers will recognize it and enjoy following along.
- Finally, good ole’ google. Some lovely people have already done the work finding the current popular hashtags in different categories, a quick search for ‘popular/best hashtags for [insert your category/type here]’ will get you TONS of options!
4 | Time to narrow down! Apply the rules you’ve thought about and write down your choice hashtags under each applicable category on the Hashtag Organizer Page, use one sheet for each distinct category/type you will be posting. Record how many posts there are currently, which social media account you will using it for, and any other applicable notes for yourself. Try to record at least 30 for each category type so you can vary which hashtags you use for each post, instead of copy/pasting the same each time!
And that’s it! Follow those four easy steps to build your hashtag list, so next time you go to post on social media, the hard part is already done for you! Any other tips you would suggest? Drop your comments and suggestions below!