Gone are the days when we used hashtags for #every #single #word #in #our #copy (and thank goodness for that!) However, Instagram hashtags are still a useful tool to grow your audience and increase engagement if used correctly. The best way to optimise the hashtag and grow your brand is to implement a hashtag strategy.
The importance of the Instagram hashtag -
Using hashtags on your posts is one of the easiest and best ways to get discovered by a new audience. Having your profile on public and using a hashtag, can put you in front of your target audience even if you have never connected with them before.
For example, this café located in Coogee used the hashtag #sydneybrunch. This now opens them up to be discovered by not only customers in their local area but also customers from around the city, attracting a wider market.
Being discovered by a new audience could translate to more engagement and having an engaged audience is the greatest measure of social media success. It demonstrates the strong relationships you've built with your customers which will serve to benefit your brand both on and offline.
Having just one Instagram hashtag on your post has proven to average 12.6% more engagement. However, as we quickly learned #hashtagging #just #any #word is not always the most effective method. It's important to select your hashtags carefully to get the most out of your content.
What to consider when selecting your hashtags
Using hashtags that are super popular opens your posts to be discovered by a global audience. Depending on your brand, this could be useful as it enables your content to be seen by just about anyone. Some of the top hashtags are:
#food (435 million)
#bar (38.9 million)
#cafe (74.8 million)
Using top hashtags is proven to be effective but because so many posts use top hashtags, we only recommend using a few as your content is likely to be pushed further down a lot quicker which can make it harder for people to discover. We suggest you focus more on including community hashtags.
Community hashtags are a more precise way of reaching your target audience. They increase the reach of your brand message and connect like-minded people around a specific subject. There are several types of community hashtags that you could be using for your brand. For example, this Sydney pub has used hashtags that indicate their:
- Product (#sydneyparmy)
- Industry (#sydneypubs)
- Location (#waterloo)
By using community hashtags, you are more likely to connect with the right audience as opposed to just anyone. This will improve the searchability of your post and help build a stronger, more engaged community.
If you’re unsure of what community hashtags to use, a good place to start looking is at what your competitors are using. Including the same or similar hashtags ensures that you are connecting with the right audience.
While top and community hashtags are designed to grow your audience and increase the reach of your message, a branded hashtag is designed to connect your brand and your audience. When you create a hashtag, it gives your audience the chance to find out more about your product or service and increases brand awareness.
Creating a brand hashtag can be as simple as using your business name or an acronym (or both). For example, the café below has quite a long name, (Quick Brown Fox Eatery) which when used as a hashtag, may easily be spelled incorrectly or due to the length, not used at all. The café has shortened this to #qbfeatery which is more concise and user-friendly.
After creating your branded hashtag or hashtags, it is a good idea to remind customers to use it and to follow the hashtag so you can keep an eye on the content that is being shared.
Now that you have assembled a list of hashtags, it is time you use them.
How and where to use your Instagram hashtags
Always start with your branded hashtags, followed by your community and then top hashtags. While there are no fixed rules as to how many hashtags you should be using, we recommend anywhere from 5 to 10 is a suitable number.
It is also important to include your hashtags at the end of your copy or in the comment section of your posts. This way, the hashtags do not detract your audience's attention from the core message you are trying to convey.
Check on your hashtags
Lastly, if you are using an Instagram Business account, you can access Instagram insights to see just how well your hashtags are working. Instagram insights allow you to see how many impressions your profile got from the hashtag which will guide you to make changes where necessary.
Using Instagram hashtags strategically is a fantastic way to reach a wider audience, grow your brand and build stronger relationships with your customers. Having an Instagram hashtag strategy will benefit your brand both on and offline.
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