Instagram hashtags are an important tool in any social media marketing strategy—posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag—but these tiny symbols can be a big source of confusion for some. Lucky for you, our Social Media Manager and Instagram-guru Erin is here to share her best tips for hashtagging like a pro.
Understand why you’re using Instagram hashtags.
Instagram hashtags help organize and categorize the photos and videos you’re posting, which helps people find your posts and exposes your brand to large and targeted audiences. But the true power of these former pound signs lies in their ability to help grow your Instagram account. Using the right hashtag (or combination of hashtags) can help improve the reach and SEO of your posts, attract new followers, get more likes, and increase engagement.
OK, now you know why you’re using hashtags, but how do you decide which ones to use? You want to use tags that are trending in your industry, of course, but don’t always default to the “most popular” (translation: most broad) hashtags you come across, or your posts will just get lost in the daily shuffle of photos being posted. Choose hashtags that are relevant to the image or video you’re sharing, as well as specific to your industry and audience; use keywords that users are actually searching for! The more specific the hashtag, the more engaged your audience is likely to be.
For example, using a broad hashtag like #PlasticSurgery, might get you a few additional likes, but #BreastAugmentationVancouver will garner attention from your specific target audience (if you’re a plastic surgeon performing breast augmentation in Vancouver, that is).
Do your research.
Take a look at what hashtags your audience is commonly using and take note of those that are relevant to the content you’re sharing. Keep an eye on your competitors, and on opinion leaders in your industry that have a similar target audience to determine which hashtags are proving successful for them. You can also take advantage of Instagram’s “related hashtags” tool which allows you to find the top hashtags closely related to those you’re already using. There are also a number of helpful resources and websites that can help you determine the most trending tags related to your topic.
Have a system in place.
Having a system in place for organizing your hashtags can save you a lot of time and energy. Strategically, it’s important to keep track of those you’re using and when. If we’re being honest, it can be a pain (not to mention a waste of time) to remember and type out the individual hashtags you’ve decided to use. This system can be as simple as keeping a list of your most used hashtags in a spreadsheet or easy-to-access document. Personally, I use the notes app on my iPhone for easy copy-pasting!
For the sake of keeping your feed as beautiful as possible (and to avoid appearing spammy), I recommend adding a maximum of 10 hashtags to the end of the caption itself. If there are more you’d like to use, adding them as a comment separate from the caption is just as effective, but much more visually appealing.
Create your own branded Instagram hashtag.
A branded hashtag is one that’s unique to you and your business. They can be used to increase the reach of your message, showcase your products and services, promote a campaign or event, collect user-generated content, collect entries for a contest, or simply to give your audience a peek behind the scenes. An easy way to start? Tag the name of your business, or your tagline, at the end of every post.
As with all things, it’s important to measure the success of your newly implemented hashtags. Analyzing their performance makes it easier to determine which tags resonate best with your audience, and makes it easier to achieve your social media marketing goals. Find a tool that allows you to track your progress as you experiment with new hashtags on Instagram. We use Sprout Social to help us determine which ones garner the most engagement.
At Victory Media, we offer comprehensive social media marketing strategies, which include Instagram hashtag research and monitoring. If you’re looking to step up your hashtag game, reach out today.