Instagram is the ultimate hashtagging platform. There are several reasons to get strategic about how you use hashtags, including to extend the reach of your content and get the attention of people interested in your niche.
Build your following with hashtags
By adding a hashtag to your post, you can capture the attention of those who might not otherwise see your message. Hashtags can be embedded into your messaging for conferences or events, Twitter chats, infographics, images and any other place you can imagine. On Instagram, people use hashtag searches to find content, similar to the way people use keyword searches on Google. Use and follow hashtags to find people who are interested in your business or industry.
Explore the many hashtags types
There are several types of hashtags you want to pull together for your hashtag strategy:
- Custom-branded hashtag. These hashtags are specific to your company name or a campaign name. For example, for my business I use #marketingstaircase.
- Campaign or contest hashtags. Use a unique hashtag for with a promotion. #LikeAGirl campaign by Always is an example.
- Content-related hashtags. These helpful hashtags indicate what your content is about, so people can find it when they are searching for specific content. For example, you might use the #exercise or #fitness hashtag when posting a video demonstrating an exercise.
- Industry-related hashtags. Similar to content-related hashtags, these let you align your content with a specific industry. I use the #socialmediamarketing hashtag when I share tips on social media.
- Feel good hashtags. Using a fun, inventive hashtag is an effective way of communicating more on Instagram #EnjoyLife, #WhyILiveHere and #ArtIsEverywhere are expressive hashtags I sometimes use.
- Location hashtags and geotags. Turn on photo maps to access the geotags for your area. Simply start typing and a choice of geotags will pop up. You can select the name of a specific place or establishment, such as a restaurant, or a larger area such as a city or neighborhood. Your content comes up when someone searches on that geotag.
Use a mix of hashtags
Use hashtags to attract people who are interested in your content and themes. Mix it up by including both popular and rarely used hashtags. Since so many people are using popular or trending hashtags, your content can get buried in the thousands of other posts. Don’t believe me? Use the hashtag #love and then go search the hashtag and try to find your post buried within it. The less-used hashtags will extend the lifespan of your post. Using a mix of hashtags makes it more likely that your post will be seen by your target audience, among the 95 million Instagram posts going live each day.
Where to place hashtags
There are many opinions about where to post hashtags—in the description or in the comments section immediately after the post goes live. Some find it looks spammy to have hashtags with the description and that they get in the way of the conversational style of Instagram. That being said, I think some hashtags can be an extension of your description. For example, #WhyILiveHere added to a great photo of the Seattle skyline is a creative way of describing content.
Document your hashtag strategy
The ideal way to implement all these yummy hashtag tips is to create a hashtag list on a notepad or other text tool on the mobile device you use for snapping photos and creating images. Simply cut and paste the hashtags that make sense from your digital list. Take time to brainstorm each of the hashtag categories above and plan out your top five or six for each. Have a prepared hashtag strategy at the ready so you can test new hashtags and add them to your list when you see success. Also, don’t be afraid to let your hashtag strategy develop. I am guessing there are about a billion trillion hashtags out there (no, I don’t have a source for that stat!), and finding out which ones work best for you will take a little time and monitoring.
If you start using hashtags, we promise they will quickly become one of your favorite social media tools! Remember to use hashtags that represent your brand, industry and customers but most importantly, have fun! Don’t be scared of using hashtags, we suggest using a mix of multiple hashtags to find the ones that work best for you!
Still have questions on how to use hashtags to promote your business? Contact us for a FREE #Hashtag checklist. Or better yet, download The Social Media Cookbook: Strategic Marketing Recipes for Small Business for everything you need to know about how you can use social media effectively for your business!