Building a brand presence on Instagram is all about generating a substantial follower count terrific engagement metrics on your profile. To achieve this, you must have a great following with a high share of active followers. Followers who are not just a number on your profile but actually like, save, view, and comment on your posts are the ideal Instagram followers you need. The big question here is, how do you find such a pool of organic followers? One way of attracting the right kind of audience is to build a clever Hashtag strategy to market your brand.
What are hashtags?
First used on Twitter in 2007, a hashtag is a metadata tag used with a hash symbol prefix on social sites to allow for cross-referencing the idea suggested by the tag. The use of hashtags has grown to become popular on Instagram and is an important way of reaching target audiences on the social media platform.
Of course, as with any other feature, if your profile is private, using hashtags does not make your posts visible to Instagrammers who are not already following you. To optimize the benefits of hashtags for your brand, use a business account or turn your personal account into a public one. If you use a business account (which you ideally should if you are running one and want to keep the opportunity of monetizing your Instagram account open), you will have the added advantage of keeping track of your hashtag insights.
There are primarily three types of hashtags that you can use to build your Instagram presence:
1. Content-specific hashtags
These are related to what you have posted about. For example, hashtags that mention the product, location of the video/photograph, purpose, or subject are content-specific hashtags. Community-based hashtags are also a subtype of this category of hashtags.
2. Brand-specific hashtags
These are particular hashtags created for a company or a campaign. These are promotional hashtags that are created primarily to build brand/campaign awareness. They are usually unique to a particular business or purpose.
3. Trending hashtags
As the name suggests, these are the hashtags that are in vogue at a specific time and place. These could be campaign-specific hashtags or content-specific hashtags. These hashtags have a vast audience following at a given time.
How can You Build a Great Hashtag Strategy for Marketing your Brand?
There are a couple of things to consider when you are planning your hashtag strategy. First, before you start adding hashtags to your content, do your research on:
- How hashtags work on Instagram
Every social media platform has its unique engagement metric calculation algorithm. Hence, although hashtags function to serve the same purpose, the results of your brand building can vary from platform to platform. For instance, hashtags on Instagram tend to show higher engagement results than those without. This is because they serve as organizing labels for your photos and videos. Currently, you can use up to 30 hashtags on a post, video or reel, or live session. However, the limit on adding hashtags on Stories is set at 10.
- What hashtags your target audience is likely to search for
Although Instagram allows you to use several hashtags all at once on a post, consider if you need to use the maximum number of hashtags each time you put up a post. Are there specific hashtags that are popular among your niche community and target audience? Are there hashtags that have worked favorably for you in the past? Keep in mind that the right hashtags will make your content discoverable by your intended audience, even if they have never interacted with your account before.
- What your goals for a specific post or type of content are
To build your brand up, you probably already have time-bound micro-goals in place. If not, consider creating a few. Are you simply looking to grow your follower count? Are you looking for impactful collaborations? Is the post aimed for lead conversion? Are you trying to revive dead posts? Is there a specific call to action that you want your audience to deliver? Ask yourself what kind of hashtags will enable you to reach the target goals and create your hashtag set accordingly.
Once you have this down, consider the following tips:
- Keep your hashtags short and eye-catching
Use hashtags that are easily retained in public memory. When you create a hashtag, remember that you can use numbers, but you cannot use special characters or spaces.
- Choose to build your brand as a hashtag
Whether you choose to turn your company tag line into a hashtag, or use the company name for the purpose, aim for long-term visibility. Use them to tag your posts as your brand’s. Keep in mind that although intended to be promotional, you must not overdo the number of promotional hashtags on a post. Instagram works best on a soft-selling strategy. Use the right mix of brand hashtags and other hashtags on your post.
- Join hashtag movements
However, using the most popular ones can cause your post to get lost in the sea of posts churning out every second for the hashtag. A good idea would be to use a moderately successful hashtag that would let your post be visible on feeds before a new post pushes its way into Instagram’s algorithm.
- Be authentic
Do not force hashtags where they do not belong. Think of hashtags as SEO keywords on Instagram. Genuine tags yield the best audience traction.
- Keep a list
Make an excel sheet of the hashtags that you frequently use. Also, keep a tab of trending and niche relevant hashtags. Observe your competition, influencers, industry gurus, and clients. Make a list of the most important hashtags and keep that handy as well. This will help you select the right mix of hashtags for the right content easily.
In short, when you build your hashtag strategy for Instagram, remember:
- A few relevant, powerful hashtags may be more useful for your account than a whole group of weak hashtags clubbed together.
- Hashtags are a great way to reach new audiences. Hence, choose ones that enable your post to create meaning and add value to your content.
- Hashtags should weigh your content down. They should work to build a connection with your viewer and not push them away from your content.
- You have a wide range of free and paid tools available both on Instagram and on the internet that can help you figure out the best hashtags for you.
Hashtags are an essential tool to build your brand up on several social media platforms. Use them wisely to present important information and reach a broader range of active and organic audiences. Be alert to your target audience’s behavior, which will enable you to be dynamic while keeping your hashtag game on cue.