Most businesses should consider being active on Instagram to grow their brand with a social media marketing strategy due to its popularity and growth in recent years, and one of the biggest tips for finding success there is knowing how to use hashtags well. Hashtags are words or phrases with the pound sign (#) in front of them that help categorize and organize your posts, as well as drawing attention to them. And for your Instagram marketing, they are a must.
Be Relevant and Restrained
It can be easy to go overboard with hashtags, especially since IG allows up to 30 of them to be added to any post. Don’t be tempted by the large allowance though – the result will be the opposite of what you want. You should always add at least one or two hashtags to every post since studies prove that engagement is higher with them. As a general rule of thumb, 99% of your posts should have between one and five.
The question then becomes which hashtags should you use in your social media marketing. The answer depends on your business. Adding hashtags that are irrelevant to your brand or product just because they’re popular can get you marked as a spammer, not to mention shunned by the crowd. Follow three simple rules to choose your hashtags wisely: be relevant, create brand hashtags, and use popular hashtags when applicable.
Words and phrases that apply to your business are best. One of the most popular and cited examples is Herschel Supply Co.’s hashtag #welltravelled, used by travelers all over to post images of the great places they’ve been (as well as the Herschel products they use to travel). You can use Instagram’s search function to find relevant keywords that are already being used, as well as their popularity. Also, consider what hashtags your competition uses.
Brand hashtags are those you create to be specific to your business, product, or a particular campaign. They can be very useful in running promotions and contests and are great for getting your followers involved by having them submit user-generated content relating to a campaign.
There are many community and universal hashtags on Instagram that are widely used and can help your business find new followers if you use them well. Just always keep rule #1 in mind (make sure that they’re relevant). Examples are #love, #instagood, and #tbt (or #ThrowBackThursday). All of these can be used at the right time and with the right post. (#tbt is pretty universal, for example, and is a good way to add Thursday posts every week)
3 Tips for Choosing Hashtags
As with any marketing idea, your brand name is on the line once you post. Before you go throwing hashtags on your posts, make sure you take note of a few things.
1. Only letters and numbers are allowed. #UsAndThem works, but #Us&Them won’t.
2. Popular hashtags like #love work, but you’re joining an ocean and will be a very small fish. Shoot for more specific and niche hashtags to garner more attention. Of course, it’s a balancing act because you don’t want to be so specific and niche that no one finds you either.
3. Always check hashtags before using them. In other words, do a search to make sure that some unsavory or unscrupulous person or company hasn’t already tarnished the hashtag by adding to posts that you wouldn’t want to be associated with.