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21 September 2015

How to Do Hashtag Research

by James Cottis

Hashtags are one of the best ways to reach out to new audiences, and gain new relevant followers on social media. When used and researched properly, they can be an excellent method of boosting you visibility across social media. However, if you use them incorrectly, the possible results could be dangerous for your social media presence, and could end up deterring potential followers.

The hashtag research process is usually this:

  • Start with a root or core keyword as a hashtag.
  • Generate more keyword / hashtag ideas.
  • Understand each hashtag’s usage and popularity.
  • Organise them into a spreadsheet.
  • Structure a social media content strategy from your research.

Although hashtags are essentially just keywords for social media, there is a big difference between keyword research for social media, and keyword research for search engines. With search engines, you want keywords and phrases that people will be specifically looking for, whereas with social media, it’s more to do with what people are talking about, and getting involved in conversations.

There are pretty much hashtags for everything, and their usage differs depending on the social media platform. Since hashtags are used most on Twitter, this guide will be more loosely aimed at that. However, there will be plenty of tips that are relevant for other platforms such as Instagram and Google+.

No matter what the social media channel is, you need to know what sort of content you will be posting and who the intended audience is. Try and find popular accounts that are similar to yours in terms of audience and content, and start making a note of the hashtags that they commonly use, along with all of the obvious root or core keywords that can be used as hashtags.

There are a few sites than can really help you find the right hashtags, as well as relevant information about them.



Tagboard allows you to see a live stream of posts from different social media platforms containing the hashtag you searched for, as well as some stats such as how many posts per minute contain that hashtag, the general sentiment expressed using the hashtag, and the trend of its use.



Hashtagify allows you to search for a keyword and gives you a spider diagram of related keywords. When you hover over each keyword, it gives you a popularity score and correlation percentage from your initial hashtag in the middle. The bigger the bubble around the keyword, the more popular the hashtag is.

Hashtagify also features a “Table Mode” which displays the same data. You can then sort this data by Popularity, Correlation, Weekly Trend and Monthly Trend.

You can also view the all-time top 6 influencers for that hashtag, if you want to do further investigation.


Hashtag Scout

With Hashtag Scout, all you have to do is type in a hashtag, and it will give you a list of other hashtags that are related to it. If you click on a hashtag, you will be able to see the Estimated Usage Volume per day and per month, the usual related hashtags from the last 164 hours and recent popular Tweets containing that hashtag.

You should make note of any measurable figures you come across, in order to make a spreadsheet of your research.


Creating Your Spreadsheet

Once you’ve got a list of keywords, it’s time to sort through them. Using the measurable figures you found, you can start to determine which of those words you can actually use, and will actually benefit you on social media. You might find that about 75% of the words in your list are actually useless, but you need to go through them. Don’t forget that once you’ve made your spreadsheet, you can come back later on to add to it, and sort them as you please.

The columns of your spreadsheet can be sorted to:

  • Hashtag
  • Daily Volume
  • Monthly Volume
  • Description

It’s important to have the description column, so you know what the usual content in that tag would be, in order to prevent you from posting something that isn’t relevant. If you take a moment to research into each individual hashtag in your spreadsheet, you can easily discover new Twitter communities to get involved with.


Hashtag Strategy

Now you’ve got your collection of hashtags that you’re actually going to use, it’s time to structure a social media content strategy. This will show you which hashtags to use, and when to use them.

Using a site like allows you to see a 24 hours trend graph of estimated Tweets per hour. This means you can see when the best times are to use a hashtag. You can then schedule Tweets in advance to be posted during those times. However, make sure you still an eye out for any opportunities that could pop up.

If you have a local business, then it’s good to know what’s trending in your area so you can get involved. By using Trends Map, you can see what’s trending in any geographic area, and see where specific hashtags are being used most around the world.

Now you should have enough relevant information about the hashtags you’ll be using, and those that are trending. By referring to your spreadsheet whenever you’re writing and scheduling Tweets, you’ll be able to select the most appropriate ones based on the time you’ll be posting it, and the audience. You can even plan around trending topics, or popular hashtags in order to get involved and widen your audience.

If you need help managing your social media accounts, then get in touch to discuss how we can help you.

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