Social media is crucial as a marketing channel for businesses. Still, the most popular social media platforms have huge, active communities. It is easy for a post to get lost in the millions of other social media content published every day.
For example, Instagram had 2 billion monthly active users in 2021. As of 2016 (the latest available data), Instagram had 95 million posts every day back when there were only 500 million monthly active users. Any single post is a proverbial needle in a haystack. To ensure that your social media campaigns are successful, you need to use hashtags.
An Instagram hashtag can help social media users find your post, primarily if you use branded ones. If you want to discover the right influencers, hashtags can also help identify those that fit your needs.
However, you can’t just use hashtags and hope they work as expected. You need to monitor them and track metrics to find out if they are helping people find your Instagram posts. Instagram hashtag monitoring is an essential task you can’t afford to skip.
So, what are hashtags, exactly?
Hashtags essentially group similar content. The hash symbol # (called a pound sign back in ancient times, specifically before 2007) precedes a combination of letters, numbers, and sometimes emojis.
The use of hashtags began on Twitter. Blogger Chris Messina coined the term hashtag in his proposal for a grouping convention on the platform. Today, you can use hashtags on other platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok. The common goal is to group content to make them easier to find and discover.
Hashtags on compatible platforms are clickable. For example, if you see #love (the most popular hashtag) on Instagram and click on it, it will show you all 2 billion posts that used that tag.
As you can see in the example above, the user included 13 hashtags in her post. As of this writing, it’s the top post for #love and #yogapractice, but not for the hashtag #yoga. Why? You’ll find out if you monitor your hashtag data and track metrics.
Instagram permits you to use as many as 30 hashtags per post, but you don't have to max it out every time. Case studies show that the magic number is 11 hashtags for the most engagement.
The purpose of Instagram hashtags in marketing campaigns is to increase discoverability. Your post will appear on the Instagram page for each hashtag you include. Additionally, users can choose to follow hashtags. That means your post with that hashtag will appear on their feed even if they don’t know or follow your page.
Branded hashtags also allow you to collect user-generated content (UGC) around a particular campaign. Let’s say you launched a contest and used the hashtag #mybrandcontest. All contestants will use that branded hashtag, so their content will appear on the hashtag page. Additionally, their followers will see the hashtag and hopefully click on it, creating buzz for your brand.
Because hashtags are for grouping content, they are an excellent way to build communities. For example, the recent drama around Johnny Depp and Amber Heard generated a lot of hype on social media.
People who believed Johnny Depp was unfairly treated started the hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp, which has over 300,000 posts. People who sided with Amber Heard on the issue started the hashtag #justiceforamberheard, with almost 8,000 posts. Those who posted, followed, or commented on these pages are part of that community.
Interestingly, it also shows the way the wind is blowing in this particular issue. Guess which hashtag marketers use to promote products.
Of course, the “biggest” or most popular hashtags are not always the best ones for marketing. Sure, your brand will be on the page…somewhere. If you want people to find your post, a good mix of big, medium, and small hashtags can extend your reach.
However, make sure you use only relevant hashtags for your brand’s Instagram posts to optimize engagement. You will never get to the top of the page if you use hashtags that your target audience is unlikely to search for or click.
Like anything else in marketing, the only way to know if you're doing something right is to monitor and track metrics. Marketing success is not as easily quantifiable as sales, so you have to look at how you're doing over time. Only then can you gain insights into the effectiveness of your efforts.
Instagram hashtags help people who don’t follow you (or even know you exist) find your brand, product, or service. If they think your post is relevant, they might follow you, thus expanding your reach. However, how would you know that people found you because of your hashtags? Look at your metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) for each hashtag. That’s how.
Instagram hashtag monitoring lets you know if you need to improve your strategy or lean into tactics that seem to be working. Hashtag usage and tracking can help you with the following:
We mentioned previously that the grouping nature of Instagram hashtags promotes community building. However, do you know the size of the community you built around your branded hashtags at any given time?
Typically, brands look at the follower count to approximate the community size. The problem is not all that follow your account actively follow your brand. They might have clicked "follow" by mistake or for a promo but have not interacted with your page since.
To find out the actual size of your community, you need to measure hashtag performance. You can determine how many people use your branded hashtags in their UGC. While that is not rock-solid evidence of active followers, it indicates that your community promotes and advocates for your product.
Hashtags are digital tools, but you can use them to connect your offline marketing campaigns to your online strategy. For example, suppose you offer a special price for customers at your booth at the local fair if they tag their purchase with your branded hashtag on Instagram.
In that case, you can check the number of times people used the hashtag. Analytics can thus correlate the success of your offline promotion with your online strategy for customer engagement and growth.
Perhaps the most important (and simplest) insight you can get from hashtag tracking tools is the type of content that best engages your target audience. When you use hashtag tracking tools, you can quickly identify those Instagram users use the most. Identify topics that the most popular hashtags have in common and run with them.
Of course, that's easier said than done. You might find it necessary to go through a bit of trial and error before finding topics that resonate with your audience.
Instagram hashtag analytics tools can help you take a more systematic approach to hit the mother lode.
Using Instagram--or any social media platform for that matter--for marketing essentially means you must attain the status of an influencer. The more followers you acquire, the more likely you will get traction on the platform and grow your audience. The more traction you have, the more followers you get.
It's sort of a chicken-egg situation, and getting out of the loop can be challenging. Hashtags can break that cycle by making your posts and page more discoverable to people who will most likely spread the word. For example, you can use hashtags such as #dogwheelchair or #degenerativemyelopathy if you offer pet mobility aids to dog owners.
Hashtag analytics tools can tell you two things in real-time: hashtags that receive the most searches and those that contribute the most UGC for your brand. Trending hashtags tend to be very competitive, so you want to temper that by including niche hashtags with active communities. A nice balance of popular and relevant can drive audience growth for your Instagram page better than using just one or the other.
Of course, you can use paid ads to drive growth. However, paid ads tend to be less effective than UGC. If you want sustainable and cost-effective development, you should leverage your community and repurpose UGC to create more effective Facebook and Instagram ads.
Pro Tip: Whether you’re a creator, brand, or marketer, a hashtag monitoring tool provides incredible performance insights to help you craft a winning hashtag strategy. Use it to your advantage!
You probably need more than the social media analytics tool you currently use for social media management. No one tool can tell you the best hashtags to use or give you all the data you need based on your goals and situation.
Suppose you are in e-commerce and want to increase revenue. In that case, social listening tools can help you identify relevant topics and related hashtags to raise brand awareness. However, they can’t tell you if your hashtags are driving sales. You typically need more than one tool to get insights into your target audience, especially in the big-picture scheme of things.
However, most tools are excellent at doing at least one thing. Some are more effective than others as hashtag tracking tools for social media marketing and Instagram success. Find our recommendations for the best hashtag tracking tools below.
Sprout Social provides a suite of tools for social media management, real-time monitoring, and Instagram hashtag analytics. It is an excellent tool if you support a large organization with multiple brands and sophisticated infrastructure for social media marketing.
With Sprout Social, you can monitor follower growth, hashtag trends, and engagement across your brands in real-time to boost conversions. Plans start at $99/month. Social listening is a paid option.
Hashtag tracking is all well and good, but first, you need to have hashtags to track. Keyhole is an excellent tool for discovering new and trending hashtags and getting real-time data on hashtag usage. These include frequency, user demographics, and other helpful metrics to help you identify the best hashtags for your Instagram posts.
Keyhole does not provide pricing on its site.
Amongst other things, Iconosquare is a mobile app that provides Instagram businesses with the ability to create automated and detailed hashtag reports. With its analytics tool, you can track hashtag usage growth and find the most engaging posts for a specific hashtag.
You also get a visual representation of people's geographic locations using your hashtags. Plans start at $49/month for one hashtag and $6.75 for each additional hashtag. Social listening is only available with higher-paid plans.
BrandMentions is a social listening tool that tracks brand mentions and specific hashtags and does both sentiment and competitor analysis. You can use the insights to inform your hashtag usage based on popularity and engagement.
BrandMentions can help you determine the success of your marketing campaigns. Plans start at $99/mo for three projects.
Brand24 is an online reputation management and social listening tool. It can tell you what Instagram users are saying about your brand through sentiment analysis based on trending hashtags it generates from keywords you specify. You can use the hashtags to inform your brand awareness and growth strategy on Instagram.
Brand24 also tracks and measures hashtag performance. Plans start at $49/month for 2,000 mentions a month.
AgoraPulse is an Instagram hashtag analytics tool to manage Brand Highlights. It has a hashtag tracker that generates detailed analytics and performance reports for relevant hashtags based on language and location.
AgoraPulse allows you to add Instagram users to your database to refine your target audience criteria. It has a free plan for monitoring 100 ad comments from three social profiles but no social listening. Paid plans start from $99/month.
Archive App is an Instagram UGC listening app exclusive for e-commerce businesses on Shopify. While not technically a hashtag analytics tool because it does not generate reports, it still innovatively monitors hashtags.
Archive App automatically identifies and saves posts that mention or use hashtags of your brand in its entirety to your account, including Stories. The idea is to leverage your community by collecting UGC before they disappear. It saves you time and money from manually searching and downloading Instagram UGC.
Archive App allows you to filter your library to find out the type of UGC associated with your branded hashtags. You can also use the UGC to help you create and launch better posts and ads on Instagram and Facebook.
Archive App has a free version for up to 100 saves. If you want to continue using the free version, you must delete existing saves from your account to make space for new ones. Paid plans start at $9.99/month for up to 500 posts saved.
Hashtag monitoring is crucial for effective social media marketing and hashtag strategy. An Instagram hashtag analytics tool is essential because of the sheer number of posts published every day. You can use analytics tools to provide important metrics on hashtag performance.
The tools mentioned on this list are primarily social media management software or apps with a hashtag tracker that provides hashtag metrics. However, they do not curate UGC in any meaningful way.
Archive App leverages your community to increase conversion using hashtags. If you want to create and launch engaging posts for your Instagram account hashtag campaign, you need Archive App. You can use the curated UGC to identify the best-performing Instagram hashtags in real-time and repurpose them to make better, more compelling posts and ads.
Download and install the free Archive App today!
Leverage your user-generated content and launch better Facebook & Instagram ads with Archive App today!
You need to use a hashtag analytics tool to provide you with the following metrics:
You can use Insights (only available for Business accounts on the mobile app) to see the impressions gained for each hashtag used in a post. Hashtags that get a lot of impressions are probably making your brand more discoverable, so keep using them.
Hashtags are useful, but they can be distracting, especially if you use more than the magic number of 11 for each post. Fortunately, you can keep them on the down low by hiding them in a comment after publishing a post (best for mobile) or caption by placing your hashtags at least three lines down (hit Return thrice at the end of the caption).
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