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How (And Why) To Use Hashtags To Track Conversations

hashtags-track-conversations

Hashtags and conversations are like the Ren and Stimpy of the internet — they play so well together (and compliment each other).

Think of hashtags like a label on a file folder in a filing cabinet full of files.

Used correctly, they alert you to shared searches and interests and can even cultivate conversations.

If you’re not taking advantage of the hashtag as a business or marketer, keep reading.

hashtags-track-conversations

Types Of Hashtags Marketers Use

There are three main reasons to use a hashtag with your online marketing:

  1. To identify and “label” your brand, a brand campaign, branded products, or a branded event
  2. For newsjacking or to jump on a trending topic
  3. To highlight topics outlined in your content (example: a blog post)

The Branded Hashtag: Choose these wisely! Like any other brand asset, you’ll need to think long term. Be audience focused; understand which hashtag will make them take action. For example, the team at B Squared Media quickly realized that there are several other B Squared companies out there. So instead of leaning on #BSquaredMedia as our go-to hashtag, we went with something more custom and now use #ThinkConversation, which is derived from our trademarked tagline, Think Conversation, Not Campaign.™

The Trending Hashtag: When a topic or event is trending, it may be wise to use the popularity of that trending hashtag to give your own brand or content a boost. As I write this post, it’s Wednesday. And as you can see in my example below, #WednesdayWisdom is trending on Twitter today. It’s wise (pun intended) to use this hashtag to give advice specific to your industry or customers on Wednesdays.

twitter-trending-hashtags

Content Hashtags: Hashtags on your content, especially on sites like Twitter and Instagram, are just plain smart marketing since they help your content get found. While you don’t want to spam your followers with too many hashtags, using hashtags that your customers and audience are likely to search for with your content is a simple way to amplify your reach.

These 3 types of hashtags help marketers get found online.Click To Tweet

Choosing Your Hashtags

As I mentioned earlier, it’s critical to make sure your hashtag represents your brand and isn’t easily confused with another brand, event, or worse, associated with some type of crisis or negative content.

Let’s use the example company, “Sales Trainers Incorporated.”

Those are extremely common words. You wouldn’t want to try to tag all of your content with, “#sales #trainers” because it’s entirely too generic.

Using sales and trainers, or training, may help your content get found, but they do nothing to set your brand apart from other sales or training companies (BORING!).

Use these tips to help you choose a hashtag that sets your brand apart:

  • Research several hashtag options to make sure they aren’t already being used
  • Don’t use odd spellings or crazy acronyms as they don’t help much with identifying your unique brand
  • Test a few hashtags out; see what your community picks up and uses when conversing with or about your brand
  • Once you have your hashtag, USE IT everywhere you can
These 4 tips can help you find the best hashtag to represent your brand online.Click To Tweet

We knew #ThinkConversation was the right choice for us when other marketers used it to underscore the importance of leaving broadcast marketing behind:

think-conversation-hashtag

How To Track Conversations With A Hashtag

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the hashtag, let’s get to the fun part — tracking conversations!

For the team at B Squared Media, Sprout Social is essential for our hashtag research.

We use Sprout in three major ways to track our conversations and/or hashtags:

Discovery

With Sprout’s Discovery tab, we can plop in keywords that are worth having a conversation about (or making sure we’re joining certain conversations).

Even though we sometimes use #BSquaredMedia, we don’t use it as often as our main branded hashtag #ThinkConversation.

However, we do like to keep an eye out for company mentions. Below you can see that we are able to capture mentions of B Squared Media and engage in conversation with these users:

Below you can see that we are able to capture mentions of B Squared Media that don’t directly tag us and engage in conversation with these users:

sprout-social-discovery-smart-search

Research 

When it comes to understanding which hashtags are frequently used with our brand, we use Sprout’s Twitter Trends Report to see which hashtags are popular when our audience converses with our brand:

sprout-social-twitter-trends-report

As you can see, #socialmedia, #smm, #sproutallstar, and #marketing are all hashtags we should consider when tweeting out our content.

Twitter Listening

The biggest, badest, and newest Sprout report that helps us track conversation and brand volume is Sprout’s Twitter Listening report which helps you track branded keywords — including hashtags — and understand the stats behind these keywords as well as share of voice:

ss-twitter-listening-report

Using this, we were able to pinpoint a huge spike in both our brand name (B Squared Media) and my name (Brooke B. Sellas) when Sprout Social published an article where they interviewed me about scaling a social media business.

We’re also able to dig down into specific stats with this report, like average mentions per day, our total volume, and our growth trends:

ss-stats-by-keyword

Again, you can see the huge lift one article from Sprout was able to produce for the company and my own name!

Share of Volume is also included in Twitter Listening. We — and clients — totally love to see these stats:

ss-share-of-volume

Using this information has made us consider using #BSquaredMedia more often with our branded content.

Though other brands are using similar branding, we think we can easily take over this hashtag. And make “ours” with enough use and conversation.

Is this trend the reason B Squared Media was named #55 out of 100 brands who influence the social media space online? Possibly.

The above reporting supports tracking hashtags and conversations to uncover amazing trends for your brand.

What Will You Track?

We love using Sprout to help us with our hashtags and conversations, but you don’t have to use this (or other) tool.

One super simple way to track hashtags? Note engagement on the content you share with your hashtags through Bit.ly.

Don’t use hashtags haphazardly as most uneducated businesses do! Use them wisely; to boost engagement and share of voice, and to cultivate conversations online.

Are you using hashtags to join conversations, engage with people online, and understand the power of your branding? If so, share with us how you manage your hashtag analytics below!

 

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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and customer care agency. She's also the Co-host of The Marketing Companion podcast with Mark Schaefer, where they discuss jaw-dropping marketing trends. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout!
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