As a social media marketer you know the importance of monitoring your brand in social media. We’ve recently covered everything else you should be monitoring in social and one very important item was your hashtags. If you’re not monitoring every hashtag your brand uses—your brand name, slogan, hashtag campaigns, etc—you’re missing out on important insights and marketing research. And yes, we’re talking about more than just the number of mentions.

Here is what you can learn from monitoring a hashtag.

How People are Using Your Hashtag

Are people using your hashtag the way you want them to? Monitoring a hashtag will help determine brand awareness and association of the hashtag with your brand.

Competitors Monster Energy and Red Bull each utilize branded hashtags of their slogans, but the way their audience uses them is quite different. Red Bull tags a good amount of its tweets with #GivesYouWings, while Monster Energy uses #UnleashTheBeast sparingly. What’s interesting is when you take a look at the conversation maps for both hashtags you’ll see Red Bull’s own tweets show up the most where the topics on Monster Energy’s map are more diverse. The social web clearly responds to Red Bull’s inspirational #GivesYouWings tweets, retweeting and sharing enough to rank them on the map, which speaks well for their brand awareness, but it looks like the hashtag hasn’t caught on enough for people to use it on their own.

Red Bull-Gives You Wings

Be awesome today. #givesyouwings

— Red Bull (@redbull) November 6, 2013

Based on Monster Energy’s conversation map and scrolling through the mentions it looks like the brand’s association with the hashtag is a bit lower as #UnleashTheBeast is used as a generic saying just as much as it’s used in reference to the energy drink brand.

Monster-Unleash the Beast

Find Influencers and Brand Advocates

One of the most important insights you can gain from monitoring a hashtag is to see who is actually using it. The people who are talking about your brand and using your hashtag are potential consumers who might be receptive to brand messages in the future and even potential brand advocates.

Moët & Chandon recently launched #MoetMoment, a campaign aimed to promote the champagne as the brand of choice for celebrating special moments. Moët & Chandon is asking people to post photos and messages of important occasions worthy of celebrating with a bottle of bubbly—each week the best “moment” wins a magnum bottle of Moët Impérial. By monitoring #MoetMoment in the uberVU platform we’ve identified a handful of potential advocates for the brand, including the 1 Oak nightclub in Las Vegas who has been posting photos of the champagne brand being served during #HauteThursdays, a night devoted to everything high-end.

Moet Moment

Monitoring your hashtag can also uncover influencers who have the potential to drive real awareness of your brand. uberVU identified Evan Longoria, third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, as a real-time influencer for #GivesYouWings and Red Bull.

Gives you Wings

Measure Your Campaigns

While determining the success of a hashtag campaign will depend on your original goal, there are many different ways to measure them. Monitoring a hashtag will allow you to keep track of important metrics like increases in followers, overall mentions, sentiment, engagement rate and reach.

#MyPassionPortrait, Nissan’s latest campaign, promotes its Versa Note as a car that helps expedite your passion and invites people to create a “passion genome” that will connect them to others with similar interests—and then share it in social of course. Over the last month the hashtag has had 3,204 mentions and 5,288,993 impressions. With such a large difference in mentions to impressions one can assume some pretty influential people were using the hashtag, which could be good or bad depending on Nissan’s goals. On one hand the campaign has great exposure, but on the other this could mean only a small percentage of people are actually participating in the contest.

Sentiment provides even more insight into the #MyPassionPortrait campaign. While there was not much negativity—only 3%—directed at the campaign, 88% of the mentions are neutral, which most likely includes Nissan’s own promotional mentions and media coverage on the campaign.

Nissan Passion Potrait

The access to metrics like exposure, overall mentions, sentiment, engagement rate and others is the most beneficial reason to monitor a hashtag. By analyzing these metrics you’ll be able to not only measure the success of a campaign, but make adjustments along the way if necessary.

Plan Future Campaigns

Being able to see what’s working and what’s not also allows you to make informed decisions on the creative and promotional aspects of your next hashtag campaign. If your last campaign wasn’t successful, use the metrics behind the hashtag to determine how you can improve.

Engagement rate is a great metric for understanding what people respond to. When you track RTs, Likes and Shares of a hashtag you can get an idea of what people are responding to and what they find the most interesting. Find out what works and make sure to include similar aspects in your next campaign.

Gap’s #BacktoBlue campaign “embodies what it means to be comfortable in your own skin,” said CMO Seth Farbman. The brand’s campaign consists of posting images of Gap-clad celebrity spokespeople with inspirational quotes. By monitoring the hashtag #BacktoBlue Gap could see which days received the highest level of engagement, which could help determine what content is working and what day and time windows are working best for each platform. As you can see from the below line graph in the uberVU platform, Facebook and Twitter saw spikes on different days. Finding out why would be helpful marketing research for Gap.

Gap - Back to Blue

Get a Competitive Edge

So now you know all the ways in which monitoring your brand’s hashtags can help inform and improve your marketing efforts. But sometimes what can be even more helpful than monitoring your hashtags is monitoring your competitor’s.

How are people using their hashtags? What are they responding to? Let your competitors do your market research for you. Learn from their success and from their failure. What could you do better? What should you avoid? You should also pay close attention to any potential influencers using their hashtags. If they like what your competitor is doing, they might be interested in your next campaign as well.

Monitoring your competitor’s hashtags can serve as a benchmark for success and set realistic goals for your next campaign.

Want to learn even more about hashtags?
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Hashtags.