Concerned that hashtags are too trendy and casual to include in your B2B organic social content? Think again. To ensure higher engagement rates, you need a comprehensive hashtag strategy.
We should all know what hashtags are by now—the short words or phrases preceded by the # sign, like #trucking or #fleetmanagement. Hashtags tell both your human followers and the platform algorithm about your content. For example, conversational hashtags (like #lawyersofinstagram) help followers relate to your brand, and topical hashtags (like #beautysupplies) help platform algorithms decide which audiences should see your posts.
Without a hashtag strategy, your business will miss out on multiple levels of engagement. Follow these steps to tailor a hashtag strategy for your B2B organic social content.
Start with Hashtag Research
Review social accounts from your industry. Note the conversations they engage in, and the content they share.
For successful hashtag research, you need to balance the big picture (context and platform) with details (specific hashtags and categories). For big-picture hashtag research, try these tips:
- Spend time on the social platform and observe how its users typically use hashtags.
- Review social accounts from your industry. Note the conversations they engage in, and the content they share.
- For more context on trends and topics, look at Google Trends or explore social listening tools.
- Review your existing content ecosystem and analytics, such as your website’s SEO keyword research, or audience targeting results from paid media campaigns.
After doing the big-picture research, you’re ready to get down to details. Now, select two or three hashtag tools to research specific hashtags and categories. These tools usually break out hashtag research per platform, in tabs across the top of the tool.
Some popular hashtag tools include Keyword Tool and Hashtagify. You can also use keyword research tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or Google Keyword Planner. Also, don’t forget to search the hashtags on the platforms themselves—the Instagram search feature is especially useful.
Warning: Hashtag research tools offer only limited utility for B2B social. Here’s my best guess at why:
- The B2B presence on social is far smaller than B2C, so there’s overall less B2B-related data for hashtag tools to analyze.
- B2B social often incorporates topic-specific, longtail hashtags with relatively niche usage data.
- Many B2B industries have been late adopters of social, and/or they haven’t adopted social according to platform norms that influence the algorithms, and thus the data sets.
However, if the hashtag tools still provide little data, do not despair. If your big-picture data has confirmed that this keyword would make a good hashtag for your industry, then you have the opportunity to own that hashtag for your brand.
Last but not least, always remember to avoid sales-y, overly transactional hashtags. They’re the hashtag equivalent of creepy: trying too hard, bad with boundaries, and generally “eeww.”
Create Hashtag Groupings
Yay, you have hashtags! Now organize them. Start with the following standard categories:
- Content/Topical. Organize these hashtags by your product and service offerings. You may come up with a content outline similar to the top-level navigation of your website. These should not be all general, broad hashtags. Be sure to include more specific longtail hashtags as well.
- Branding. Create 2-4 brand hashtags specific to your own campaigns.
- Location. Location hashtags can be very helpful, i.e., for announcing your booth at upcoming trade shows.
- Event. If you take part in industry events and conferences, be sure to use the proper event hashtags. Also, set up guidelines for employees who travel to these conferences, i.e., are they allowed to put up posts that combine your company name and the event hashtag? Etc.
- Holiday. If you put up holiday posts, it doesn’t hurt to hashtag phrases like #MemorialDay. Avoid hashtagging religious holidays.
Feeling lucky? Try some more advanced hashtagging. Caveat: Use your common sense.
- Trending. Trending does not have to mean trendy: Trendy is a celebrity; but trending might mean severe weather in your area. If the trend is relevant to your brand, that might be an important conversation for you to know about—if only to stay away from it.
- Conversational. Use with care. Conversational hashtags date quickly, but they’re also invaluable for channels like Instagram.
Implementing Your Hashtag Strategy
At this point, you may have identified anywhere from 40-100 hashtags. You have now defined your hashtag ecosystem. Now you get to deploy according to platform norms. Those are constantly in flux, even for B2B, but as of this writing:
- Facebook: 1-2 hashtags at the end of the post
- Instagram: 6-8 hashtags at the end of the post, or add them in the first comment on the post
- Twitter: 1-4 hashtags in post copy, okay to have a few stragglers at the end, too
- LinkedIn: 4-8 hashtags wayyyyyy at the end of the post, where they will be hidden by the link break
If you are writing a long string of hashtags, try to write them in logical order. You want to make it easier for both humans and machines to drill down into the topic.
Remember: Algorithms may not be exactly smart, but they usually aren’t totally dumb. Every hashtag should be relevant to post content. That can be contextually relevant: for example, it makes sense that a post about #benefits might also include #paidleave and #DEI.
Also, if you are writing a long string of hashtags, try to write them in logical order. You want to make it easier for both humans and machines to drill down into the topic.
Measure, Update, & Repeat
Congratulations! You have a hashtag strategy…and now you get to track the analytics and update everything in a few months. The world of organic social changes quickly, even for B2B.
Enhancing Your B2B Social Strategy
Now that you have your hashtag strategy in a good spot, how is the rest of your social program? Our award-winning social media team has collaborated with dozens of B2B brands to extend their reach and drive awareness and engagement on social media.
Are you interested in learning how you can grow your social media presence in 2021? Schedule a meeting with one of our DEG experts.