In the world of digital marketing, content is king. And keywords hold the keys to that kingdom.
They unlock connections to your target market—people who are looking for what you’re trying to sell.
When you’re setting up paid social media campaigns, keywords can help you make those critical connections and ensure your campaign’s success.
Knowing which keywords to use throughout the copy of your campaign can be a pain. If you’re not sure which ones are right, you might miss the mark and, by extension, your audience.
Popular hashtags can be the source of inspiration that gets your paid social media campaigns off the ground.
Why are the top hashtags important for inspiration and keyword ideas? Because they can provide a lot of information if you know how to look for it.
Here are the questions you should ask when looking for hashtags:
- What are people talking about?
- What’s the demand for a particular product or service?
- Is there a rise in interest? Or is the trend on the decline?
- Who is using those hashtags?
- What’s the context of those conversations?
Researching popular hashtags can provide relevant insights into the conversations happening around a topic. Their power is in the data you can mine from real-life, real-time sources.
Top hashtags can also lead to other hashtags and keywords you may not have considered. As you continue to dig deeper, you may start to see some patterns to add to your campaigns.
Be on the lookout for:
- New or up-and-coming hashtags
- Hashtags used by other relevant target markets
- Questions or concerns people are expressing
- Phrases in the associated content that come up often
First, you have to find the top hashtags. Begin with what’s trending in your industry and go from there. We’ll go into more specifics on different social media platforms later.
As you dive in, explore the content surrounding the hashtags.
How do you use the information you found? It’s all about inspiration. The hashtags, phrases, and keywords you find can inform your paid social media campaigns in the following ways:
- For text: What you’ve learned can be a launching point for your ad’s language. Look at the posts’ content in addition to the hashtags, and incorporate the language people in your target market use. Knowing how people talk about things can teach you how to best speak to the pain points they face and the solutions they love.
- For images: What kinds of images are those hashtags often associated with? Whether you plan to use a stock image in your ad or create your own, let what you find attached to hashtags help determine the type of images you use. You may even find a meme that you can join in on, making your social media ad more engaging.
- For target audiences: Use the hashtag research to inform the parameters of your social ad reach. Who is using these hashtags? Where do they live? How old are they? What else are they interested in? These stats can help you narrow the ad reach to your target audience.
- For sponsored post research: In addition to helping your paid social ad content be more relevant, hashtags may also help pinpoint a recent post to put cash behind. Experiment with different top hashtags in your posts on each social platform you use. Those hashtags may help your posts perform well organically, and then you can choose to boost them with sponsorship.
Let’s start with Facebook, one of the most popular platforms for online marketing.
With over two billion users per month, there’s got to be some great data out there for your hashtag research.
You are probably only connected with a tiny number of those people, but don’t let that stop you. In fact, you can choose who sees your Facebook ads:
But, before you create the ad, you need to find the right words to use that are getting the most visibility. This is where hashtags come into play.
A quick search for #tacos on Facebook shows some drool-worthy meals from strangers around the world who made their posts public as well as from brand pages. You do this from your search bar.
That list shows you what words most commonly follow that hashtag. Additionally, when you submit the hashtag you’re searching for, Facebook shows you on the top of the next page how many people are talking about that topic:
When you type in the hashtag that interests you, Facebook also auto-fills other hashtag options to explore.
You can also explore the bookmarks that Facebook makes available, including local events, crisis response, or other timely topics. These can provide insights into why people are using this hashtag.
Instagram is a hashtag-heavy environment, making it ideal for top hashtag research.
Much like on Facebook, you can start by typing your hashtag ideas into the search bar. Instagram not only auto-fills suggestions but also shows you how popular those hashtags are based on how many posts include them.
Are you still looking for more hashtags to dig into? Head to Instagram’s “Explore” section, with the compass icon, to see top posts related to content you have interacted with in the past. You may discover new or emerging hashtags that you didn’t know about.
Now is an excellent time to stop and talk about how hashtags don’t always translate directly into keywords and phrases for paid social media campaigns. You may have to convert from a succinct hashtag to a robust, natural way of talking. Here are a few tips for doing that:
- Listen to What Influencers are Saying With Those Hashtags: Take some time to watch the video posts and Instagram stories associated with the hashtags you’re researching. Hear how they talk about the subject. What are some key phrases that come up often?
- Read and Take Some Notes About What the Hashtags are Saying: Now it’s time to turn off the videos and read the actual content. What are they using those character counts to say? This is where you can learn about key phrases that everyone is using and the meat behind the hashtag topics you are researching. For instance, a top hashtag may be “#cleanbeauty,” but it’s not about skin cleanliness—it’s about toxicity in beauty products, congressional oversight, regulations in the industry, and how to know what’s safe for your family’s skin. Learning about the issues and conversations behind the topics can help you frame paid social media content in a usable way.
- Talk Out Loud Using the Instagram Hashtags: Hopefully, you’re working by yourself because this could get a little awkward: It’s time to start talking to yourself. Go ahead. As you’re writing down ideas that we talked about earlier and starting to craft your social media ad content, actually saying it out loud may help disconnect you from “internet speak” and get you into using a more natural tone.
If you’re using Twitter on your mobile device, you can hit the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of your screen to see what’s trending. If you’re on your desktop, hit “#Explore” on the left side of the screen, then click “Trending” to see currently popular hashtags.
You can see what topics Twitter thinks are important now based on their editorial board and algorithms, as well as how many tweets are using those hashtags. Keep in mind some of these are promoted hashtags, not organic ones, though—they are labeled, as you can see with “#Godfall” at the top of this screenshot.
To learn more, click on “Show More” or the “Explore” section on the desktop layout to see more about these topics and find more currently in use.
You may need to dig deep to find hashtags that are relevant to your niche. When you see a conversation or post around topics pertinent to your industry, check out those hashtags.
Don’t be afraid to see a spark of inspiration, such as a new hashtag that’s just starting to catch fire, and get onboard that topic before it becomes a wildfire.
Where do you go to find the top hashtags on LinkedIn? There are a couple of different ways to start your research.
You can look up hashtags in the search bar at the top, just as you do on other social media platforms:
And like other platforms, LinkedIn will auto-recommend other options.
When you choose a hashtag, LinkedIn shows how many people are currently following that hashtag. This data can help you understand how many people may see your posts that incorporate that hashtag. You will also see top posts with that hashtag.
When you follow a hashtag you’re interested in, you can click on the three dots on the right of your followed hashtags and choose “Discover new hashtags.”
Now you’ll see all kinds of popular hashtags to inspire you.
If you want to skip those steps and just start exploring, you can go straight to LinkedIn’s Follow Fresh Perspectives tab to see the top hashtags, accounts, and companies LinkedIn recommends to you.
Context Is Key When it Comes to Using LinkedIn
Here’s the critical thing to remember about LinkedIn: It’s a popular platform for content, but it’s also very specific in its contextual use. LinkedIn is generally about professional or career conversations.
Are you trying to reach a creative, DIY crowd with your paid social media ads? Pinterest can show you what’s hot right now.
With Pinterest, hashtags aren’t as critical and promoted as they are on other platforms. Keywords in a post seem to be just as crucial for searching.
Here is a search for the popular term “Hygge:”
And a search for “#Hygge:”
You’ll notice similar results. So, just searching around for popular topics on Pinterest and exploring the top posts may prove just as useful.
However, if you are looking for top hashtags, there is a workaround. You can log in to the mobile app, click to create a new pin, and type a hashtag into the description section. This will give you a listing of top alternatives and stats for how popular they are.
If you’re still looking for the right hashtag, you may want to try one of the many hashtag search tools. These online and app tools allow you to plug in hashtags you’re using, and find related and popular hashtags. A few options include:
The key to using hashtags for paid social media is to use them as a launching point. They should inspire relevant content for your very specific target market. Hashtags can help you understand who they are, what they care about, and how they talk online.
Popular hashtags can also open the door to new opportunities for your social media strategy as you join fresh, ongoing conversations happening online and reach out to new markets.
Which popular hashtags will you be analyzing to inform your next social media ad campaign?