Hashtag Analytics Guide: Tips, Tricks, and Tracking 2022
Learn why tracking your hashtags is so important and how to use Instagram hashtag analytics to improve your Instagram strategy.
Posted 1 year ago
Written byMackenzie Taylor
Posted 1 year ago
If you want to grow an Instagram account, you need to have a solid strategy for getting your posts in front of people who actually want to see them. Using hashtags can be one of the most effective ways of doing this … if you know which hashtags to target.
But how do you know which hashtags have potential, and which are duds? That’s where Instagram hashtag analytics comes in!
Don’t let the word analytics scare you off—hashtag analytics is something that any brand, business, and influencer can take advantage of to expand their following and increase engagement.
In this guide, we’ll be walking you through the basics of Instagram hashtag analytics using examples from our analytics suite. We’ll also show you how to discover which hashtags have performed well for you in the past.
Taking each point into consideration, you should be able to develop a better idea of what works, and what doesn’t, giving you a personalized, data-driven Instagram marketing strategy.
What Is Hashtag Analytics?
Broadly speaking, Instagram hashtag analytics refers to a group of techniques, tools, and practices that help marketers track hashtags and hashtag performance in order to optimize their hashtag strategies.
More specifically, hashtag analytics is defined as the process of collecting and analyzing data about hashtags in order to make informed decisions that maximize your social media engagement.
All this can be done with various degrees of complexity, ranging from simple, yet time-consuming, manual research (e.g., checking trending hashtags) to more advanced computational analysis (e.g., comparing hashtag ranks), which can instantly provide powerful insights to help you in your hashtag strategy.
What Do You Need To Get Started?
To get started, all you really need are two things. The first is an Instagram account that you’re looking to grow. It can be personal or professional, it’s up to you!
The second is a tool (like Flick’s Analytics Suite) that helps you visualize, analyze, and interpret the hashtag data your Instagram account collects. With a good tool in hand, hashtag analytics is a simple process that anyone can pick up. Without one, it can be time-consuming and error-prone!
Step-By-Step Guide For Hashtag Analytics
With that background out of the way, it’s time to dive into the details and nuances of Instagram hashtag analytics. By the end, you’ll have no problems parsing through hashtag data to optimize for engagement!
Step #1: Figure Out Which Hashtags Are Working (And Which Aren’t)
The first step of the hashtag analytics process is getting acquainted with the hashtags you use on a regular basis. The goal is to identify your high-performing and low-performing hashtags, so you can begin to prioritize the former in your content. To do this, it’s important to understand what we mean when we say a hashtag is high-performing.
Generally speaking, hashtags are high-performing when they score well on some set of performance metrics that you (or the tool you’re using) decide are relevant to your goals. That might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s essential nonetheless. There are plenty of performance metrics to choose from, and it’s critical to understand them as you begin your hashtag analysis. Let’s quickly run through the options Flick offers for measuring hashtag performance.
For quick, surface-level insights into your hashtag performance, the Content tab is a great option. You can reach it via the menu bar at the top of the page.
While the Content tab won’t give you a ton of hashtag-specific information, it will give you some overview insights that will help you see trends and ranking patterns. As you can see, clicking on the Content tab pulls up a list of all your posts, along with supplementary stats and information that can help you get a sense of the performance of your overall hashtag strategy.
At the top of the tab, you’ll see Hashtags Ranked, a metric that counts how many unique hashtags your account has ranked (within the top 100 posts) for within the period of observation you set. If your hashtag strategy is functioning well, you can expect to see period-on-period increases here.
Moving down the page, you should see a table featuring data that corresponds with your most recent posts. In the third column—called Ranked Hashtags—you’ll be able to see how many of the hashtags you used ended up ranking within the top 100 posts. Clicking on this figure will open up a dropdown menu where you can see the hashtag text that helped the post rank.
The information contained in the Content tab should give you an indication as to which hashtags you might want to be using more frequently. However, it’s important that you don’t make a decision based on one post alone. Feel free to check in on an individual post’s hashtag performance for quick insights, but for strategizing make sure you check out the Hashtag tab.
The real hashtag analysis begins within the Hashtag tab (located on the top menu bar). Click on the tab, and you’ll be greeted by tons of data points that will help you assess your hashtag performance.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that Flick automatically sorts the hashtags you use into handy performance groups like Top Performance, Mid-level Performance, and Lower Performance. You can use these lists as a starting place to see which hashtags are performing well and which aren’t. However, for a more in-depth review of your hashtag strategy, you’ll want to understand the metrics that earned the hashtag a place on whatever list it’s occupying.
Flick uses two sets of metrics to sort hashtags into performance groups: Hashtag Data and Performance Metrics. Hashtag Data refers to a set of metrics that characterize hashtags in a general sense, not within the context of your account.
The specific metrics Flick uses are:
- Competition Score: The estimated level of difficulty to rank in the ‘top posts’ feed of the hashtag. This score compares the hashtag’s difficulty to all other hashtags in our database, as well as the success Flick users have had using hashtags with similar features.
- Potential Reach: The estimated audience size you’re likely to reach if you were to rank highly on the hashtag. This score compares the hashtag’s potential audience size to all other hashtags in our database, as well as the experience Flick users have had using hashtags with similar features.
- DAPC (Daily Average Post Count): The average number of posts made into a hashtag daily. As a general rule, a higher DAPC means that it will be harder for your post to rank due to increased competition.
- Average Likes / Comments: The average number of likes and comments received on content that has ranked in the ‘top posts’ section of a hashtag. This metric is great for getting a sense about what you can expect as a reward for ranking within a certain hashtag.
On the other hand, Performance Metrics are data points that reflect … well, hashtag performance. That means they’re metrics based on data that is unique to your account and content.
We’ll describe them briefly here:
- Rank Ratio: The percentage of times you rank in the top 100 posts when you use this hashtag.
- Avg. Best Rank: The highest position your post ranked on the hashtag, averaged across all the times you’ve used it.
- Efficiency Score: Score out of 100 that balances the hashtag’s size, where you rank on it, and the frequency that you rank on it.
- Times Used: The number of times you have used the hashtag.
- Times Ranked: The number of unique posts that have ranked for the hashtag.
So, there you have it. These are the nine metrics that Flick uses to sort hashtags into the performance groups we mentioned earlier. That’s not all they’re good for, though. If you want to tailor your hashtag strategy to the needs of your account, it’s important that you keep tabs on the specific metrics you deem important.
For example, you may decide that you want to start prioritizing hashtags that have extremely low competition. If that’s the case, you’ll want to manually filter through your hashtags to find ones that mesh well with your goals. By understanding and keeping tabs on these metrics, you can optimize your hashtag strategy and generate growth for your account. Using the right hashtags will help you reach the right people—which means a larger, more engaged following.
Put It Into Practice: Analyze your hashtag performance in order to improve your strategy. You can either use Flick’s automatic performance groups to decide which hashtags to focus on, or you can dive into the data and make the call yourself. Whichever route you take, focusing on hashtags that consistently rank highly will generally lead to consistent growth. Also, it’s really important to look out for trends!
Here are some important things to note:
- We’ll only display metrics after you’ve used a hashtag on at least 3 posts (in order to give you a more reliable set of results) so create a few core sets of hashtags and use them consistently in order to build up enough data.
- Keep your eye on the hashtags you rank on—but not all the time—this could be a great indicator that the hashtag is relevant for a specific type of post.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Give your hashtag usage some time and look to improve your results as you go.
- Use the content tab to see the hashtag performance of a specific post, and use the hashtag tab to analyze which hashtags have worked over an extended period of time.
Step #2: FindNewHashtags To Focus On
As you begin to analyze your existing hashtag catalog, you’ll probably find that many of your hashtags are ineffective or poorly suited to your goals. That’s okay! The entire point of this exercise is learning how to better optimize your hashtag strategy, and noticing issues is part of that process.
However, ineffective hashtags are a big no-no. As you notice them, you’ll want to start switching them out for hashtags that will function well within your strategy. To find high-quality replacements, you’ll want to open up Flick’s Hashtag Search tool (or something similar).
The beauty of the Hashtag Search tool is its simplicity. All you need to do is enter either the specific hashtag you want to replace or a related keyword, and Flick will generate a list of possibilities.
Let’s say you’re searching for a replacement for #healthyfood. Entering that into the search bar will give you a whole list of options that may be better suited to your strategy, like #balancedmeals or #cleaneating. Flick automatically generates reports on each hashtag it offers you, so you can get a quick look at Competition within the hashtag and its Potential Reach.
If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting from a basic search (perhaps you have a goal that requires a very specific kind of hashtag), Flick offers an advanced search option. You can filter hashtag suggestions using many of the metrics that Flick is capable of analyzing, such as Average Likes and Media Count (i.e., number of posts).
Finally, before you add the hashtags you like to a collection, the Hashtag Search tool scans them to make sure that none have been banned by Instagram. This is something that happens from time to time when Instagram decides a hashtag has become harmful to the community, and often people are using these hashtags without realizing it.
Step #3: Organize Your Hashtags To Avoid Confusion
Once you have an idea about which hashtags work well, you need to find a way to organize and store them for future use. And no, that doesn’t mean chucking them all onto a giant list on your phone’s notes app.
Flick’s Hashtag Manager tool suite helps remove excess confusion from your Instagram hashtag strategy by offering you a clean, simple, and effective way to store and recall your hashtags.
Let’s run through a quick tour of its features:
The organizational process is built around Collections—sets of related hashtags you’ve saved for future use because they’ve proven themselves effective. When you save your first hashtag to a collection, you’ll be asked to give it a name for organizational purposes. Within the Hashtag Manager, you can scroll through a list of all the collections you’ve created or recall them by searching for them by name.
Clicking on a Collection opens up a detailed view of the hashtags within it. There, you can look at performance metrics and hashtag data that update in real-time as you and other Flick users post tagged content.
In the example above, you can see two of these metrics—Competition and Opportunity—presented visually as status bars. Hovering over either bar will open up in-depth, numerical data.
The Competition metric takes things like Average Daily Posts and Total Posts into account in order to give you an idea about how hard it will be for you to rank for the hashtag in question.
Opportunity incorporates engagement data like Average Interactions Per Post within a specific hashtag in order to relay the potential benefit of ranking. Together, they help summarize a lot of complex information so that you can make quick judgments about your hashtag options.
From this detailed view, you also have a number of options for streamlining the tagging process. For example, Flick gives you the option to automatically copy 30 random hashtags (the maximum Instagram supports) from the Collection to include on a post. However, you can also opt for a manual approach to selection.
Finally, once you have some hashtags selected, the Hashtag Manager automatically generates a balanced profile. This feature allows covering all your bases by targeting a variety of high-competition and low-competition hashtags. It’s important to have a good mix in the competition department because it helps you get the best of both worlds.
High-competition hashtags generally see a lot of traffic, and that makes them appealing as avenues for increasing reach. However, the competition means it can be hard to rank and even if you are able to rank, the traffic you get can be low quality.
Low-competition hashtags see less traffic than high-competition ones. However, they’re much easier to rank for and often produce higher-quality traffic. Having a mix of both is essential as part of a balanced hashtag strategy.
Step #4: Get An Overview Of Your Account’s Performance 🎤
As you start to test out a hashtag strategy, it’s important to keep tabs on your account’s health as a whole so that you can determine how your strategy is affecting it. Luckily, Flick offers you tons of ways to do this!
To get started, you’ll want to find the Overview tab on the menu bar. Once you’re on the page, you’ll immediately see a huge variety of data points that will help you keep track of how your account is doing.
Here are a few key metrics to watch:
- Follower Change: Your change in followers over a specific time period. You can use this metric to get a sense of how your hashtag choices are affecting your following. Do certain hashtags correspond with greater follower changes? If so, these are likely hashtags to feature more or less depending on whether the follower change was positive or negative.
- People Reached: The number of accounts that have seen any of your posts over the selected time period. A strong hashtag strategy increases the reach of your account. This should be reflected in the data.
- Profile Visits: The total number of times your profile was visited in the selected time frame.
- Website Clicks: The total number of times the link displayed on your profile has been clicked in the selected time frame.
The Overview tab and the metrics within it are great for getting a top-level view of your hashtag strategy in action. Hashtag performance metrics are important, but they aren’t actually important in isolation.
Think of it this way: is a runner focusing entirely on increasing their V02 Max a good thing if they aren’t actually getting any faster? No! The same goes for hashtags.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of your hashtag analysis and forget what your actual goals are. In many cases, you’ll be able to track your progress in relation to these goals on the Overview tab.
Step #5: Analyze Your Audience 📈
Finally, you should consider metrics that tell you a little about who exactly is following your account (and therefore contributing to any Instagram engagement you might get). You can start to draw up a profile of your average follower by looking at age and gender, top countries, cities, and languages, and their overall activity.
The Account tab is a great place to gain insights into the overall makeup and behavior of your audience. Once again, you reach it by locating it in the upper menu bar from within the Analytics Suite.
The tab contains tons of audience data points that go far above and beyond those you’ll find within Instagram’s built-in analytics system.
Here’s a rundown of the main metrics:
- Followers: This one’s fairly obvious. Followers are a real-time count of the number of accounts that follow you. It’s one of the most basic metrics you can track, and that makes it an essential part of any effort to analyze and optimize a hashtag strategy.
- Reach Rate: Reach rate is the percentage of followers who interacted (i.e., liked, commented, or shared) with your posts over a certain period. Ideally, a large portion of the people who see your content through a hashtag will want to interact with it in some way.
- Audience Activity: Audience activity is a report that shows you when sections of your audience interacted with your posts the most. This metric is incredibly helpful when it comes to scheduling posts for maximum reach. Instagram places a good deal of emphasis on how recent a post is when ranking for a hashtag, so you want to make sure posts are timed in accordance with your audience’s schedule.
By understanding the metrics on the Account tab, you can also understand who is receptive to the content you’re posting and whether they fit within your target audience. If they don’t, consider switching up your content and hashtags.
Of the metrics on this page, Reach Rate is probably the most important when it comes to assessing the success of your hashtag strategy. Though people use Instagram analytics to achieve different goals, many of these goals involve reaching more interested and invested users.
If you take a systematic approach to testing hashtag options, you’ll likely find that some produce much greater increases in Reach Rate than others. These are the hashtags you’ll want to prioritize in your line-up.
🔎 Let’s recap:
Analytics are almost as essential as posting, because if you are posting on your Instagram without a data-driven strategy, you’re a lot less likely to see results. Remember to consider:
- The hashtags you’re using and whether they are performing well. If not, see which ones specifically perform well per post, and restructure your strategy based on this.
- Gather a topline overview of how your page is performing. Look at specific analytics to understand where you could improve, or why you are seeing certain trends.
- Don’t forget about your existing audience. It’s easy to get caught up on follower counts and gaining a new audience, but it’s essential to pay attention to your current audience and their behavior when interacting with your page.
Getting a handle on your hashtags is a crucial part of seeing consistent growth on Instagram. The process of Instagram hashtag analytics might seem confusing at first, but I promise the benefits of hashtag optimization more than justify the learning curve. If you’re looking to get started with hashtag analytics, don’t forget to check out Flick’s educational resource library for more information.
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