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Analyzing and measuring your campaign’s success (or lack thereof) is essential in your social media marketing development, and in strengthening your social media strategy or campaigns. One way to analyze the success of a campaign, or to measure the growth of your reach, is to get into the habit of creating a dedicated hashtag for the campaign, and then tracking its results.

Paid hashtag tracking tools can be expensive, but they do make the process a lot less laborious. For the rest of us, resourceful hashtag tracking requires organization, consistency, and a few free tools.

Here are some of my favorites for you to try.

Before you start…

Test and pick your tracking tool

Make sure you test each hashtag tracking tool before choosing one for your campaign or branded hashtag. Play around with various tools until you find one that you feel most comfortable with, and that fits your needs. Pay attention to the sample sizes or time frames as they change from tool to tool.

Choose the hashtag(s) you’ll be tracking

Will you be tracking a general hashtag for your brand or a hashtag for a specific campaign? Jot down which hashtags you need to stay on top of – and don’t forget to run an initial audit to see where the hashtag stands before you start.

Determine how long you’ll be tracking your hashtag(s) for

As noted, organization and consistency are your best friends when it comes to free hashtag tracking. Make sure you have ample lead time as to when you’ll begin using and tracking your chosen hashtag or hashtags, as most free tools will only track seven days worth of data at a time.

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If you’re continuously tracking a brand hashtag, make sure you have reminders set so you know when to come back to check in and record results.

Set up your tracking document

Set up a hashtag tracking document where you can gather your hashtag data. The tool you choose may determine what you keep track of – this can be the number of posts the hashtag is used in, impressions for the hashtag for a specific set of time, photos posted using the hashtag etc. Choose the metrics that matter to you, and that you have access to.

Tracking your hashtags

Now that you’ve got yourself all setup, it’s time to start gathering information. Here are some of my favorite hashtag tracking tools:

Twitter Search

Twitter’s own native search can be a good starting point to track a hashtag – particularly if you make use of Twitter’s advanced search parameters.

twitter advanced

Quantifying your finds, however, does have to be done manually. Know anyone that loves counting tweets?

Keyhole doesn’t require you to sign into their service to get hashtag stats – and is the only service on this list that won’t ask you to. Conduct a hashtag search and you’ll receive a report containing sample data from your search criteria, with charts that break down share of posts, related hashtag and keywords, plus more.

The service also tracks Instagram posts.

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This tool is one of my all time favorites – I’ve been using it for years. Unfortunately, free analytics – or “snapshots” as they’re called within this system – will only capture activity for the last 100 tweets that use your hashtag.

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The information is presented beautifully, and you’ll be able to see your top contributors. The report can also be downloaded as a pdf.

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Tweet Binder

Tweet Binder provides effective visuals, and breaks down tweets by type, including text tweets, replies, retweets or tweets with images. Like the rest of the free tools, this one will only give you analytics for up to 2,000 tweets from the last 7 days. There are Instagram reports available, but for a fee.

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Okay, so AgoraPulse isn’t free, but it’s great for keeping tabs on hashtags, and for keeping track of interacting with people using a specific hashtag.

The service won’t show you impressions, but it does highlight how many posts have used the specified hashtag in their messaging.

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Hashtag tracking with limited resources can be tedious, but it’s not impossible. For brands with a high volume of tweets, the best bet is to go for a paid analytics/tracking platform. As for tracking hashtags on other networks – specifically Instagram – you can use the built-in search, or a service like Twubs or Storify, which will pull content that uses the hashtags. But again quantifying will have to be done manually – so get used to counting.

Hopefully these tools help you in your hashtag tracking efforts. 

A version of this post was first published on Dhariana Lozano’s blog.

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