Instagram is a highly popular social media platform that doubles as a powerful marketing channel for brands. When used correctly, it can help brands generate millions in revenue every year. But, the key here is to stand out amongst the noise of 800 million active users on the platform. Here is where hashtags play a key role. Whether on Twitter or Instagram, hashtags play a vital role in making your content stand out from the rest. They are an essential part of your Instagram strategy. To maximize the success of your brand on Instagram, you need to have an effective Instagram hashtag strategy. In this article, we look at four of the top ways, in which you can enhance your Instagram hashtag strategy.
#1 Use specific and popular hashtags
The first and perhaps the most important rule about hashtags is to make sure they are relevant. Regardless of what purpose you use the hashtags for, you need to use hashtags that are specific to your message. A common mistake that most brands make is to make use of generalized and repetitive hashtags in their posts. This is a problem since the Instagram search engine prioritizes relevance. What this means is that if your post is not relevant, it will eventually become ‘invisible’ on Instagram. In order to make sure that your post appears in the ‘Top Posts’ list, you need to make use of specific hashtags.
To find relevant hashtags, you need to know exactly, which ones are trending in your target industry. To find out the trending hashtags, you need to monitor Instagram and other social media networks. This is where you will need to make use of a social media monitoring tool such as Mentionlytics. This is because it is almost impossible to track specific conversations amongst all the noise on the social media. There are tons of conversations happening on the social media at any given time. You need to identify only the conversations that are relevant to your target industry. Social media monitoring makes this possible.
Through social media monitoring, you can find hashtags that are specific to your topic of conversation and target industry. This will allow you to reverse engineer and find topics that you should produce content on! Identifying key topics that interest your target audience is an integral part of your Instagram hashtag strategy.
After you have identified hashtags relevant to your industry, the next step is to segment them into meaningful categories. For example, if your furniture brand is looking to promote a chair for sale then the hashtag ‘furniture’ and ‘wood’ might seem to be appropriate but they are not relevant enough. You should instead be using hashtags such as ‘chair’ and ‘wooden chairs’ to make the post more relevant. This will optimize your Instagram hashtag strategy and ensure that the right target audiences view your post.
Segmenting your hashtags will allow you to target smaller audiences within your industry. This will lead to improved visibility and conversion rates for your content on Instagram. It is important to mention here that the hashtags for different segments will overlap but that is not an issue. Just ensure that you make use of relevant niche hashtags with your brand hashtags for each post you make.
#2 Don’t use too many hashtags
The maximum limit of hashtags allowed in a single Instagram post is 30. Now, that number is tempting. It misleads marketers into believing that every post should contain 30 hashtags!
This is a common mistake that marketers make since they think there is no harm in using this many hashtags. The problem with this is that it does not work for everyone and the reason is simple. To make sure that they have 30 hashtags in every single post, marketers make use of irrelevant hashtags. This decreases the quality and relevance of the post itself, leading to many users turning away from the post.
What you need to understand is that your post does not need to be overly promotional to reach the target audiences. Instead, if you use a good search strategy for hashtags, you can easily reach out to the audience with only a single hashtag!
A study shows that the ideal number of hashtags in each Instagram post should be 9 or more. Though this is not a hard and fast rule for Instagram hashtags. In fact, a brand should make use of a trial and error approach to determine the optimal number of hashtags it needs. You can start by experimenting with 5 – 10 hashtags per post and then gradually increase this number until you find the right number that works for your Instagram hashtag strategy.
The next step is to ensure that you use the right balance of various types of hashtags. Popular hashtags, Niche hashtags, and Brand hashtags are the three most common types of hashtags. Popular hashtags are ones that are trending in your target industry. Niche hashtags are the ones that are relevant to the niche of your post itself. Brand hashtags are the ones that are unique to your brand and business.
A good Instagram strategy is one that makes use of a variety of hashtags in each post. Our suggested approach would be to divide your hashtags in the following manner: 20% popular hashtags, 70% niche hashtags, and 10% brand hashtags. But it is important that you make sure each hashtag is relevant and specific to the post you make.
Let us further explain this with an example. A brand that sells wooden furniture has decided that the number of hashtags it needs per post are 10. Now, if the brand posts about promoting a chair on Instagram then it should make use of 2 popular hashtags such as #furniture and #chair; 7 niche hashtags such as #woodenchairs and #premiumwood; and 1 brand hashtag that should be the name of the brand.
#3 Make use of a search strategy to find brand hashtags
When optimizing the Instagram hashtag strategy for your brand, it is important that you adopt a search strategy for finding relevant and trending hashtags. Though most marketers will make use of intuition to come up with hashtags, it is not something we would advise. You need to look beyond the ‘obvious’ hashtags and make use of a search strategy to find the right hashtags.
So, how exactly should you go about finding hashtags for your Instagram hashtag strategy? Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Make use of the Instagram search. One of the most effective tools for searching for hashtags is Instagram own search function. There is a ‘Tags’ tab in the search option that allows you to find hashtags relevant to a phrase. The search function also displays the number of posts that contain the hashtag, so that you can assess its popularity. All you need to do is to enter keywords related to your brand and industry in the Instagram search.
- Take a look at others. Sometimes all you need to do is to take a look at posts by others in your target industry to shed light, on which hashtags you should use. Influencers and competitors are a great way to start off. Analysing posts by competitors and well-known personalities will help you understand the hashtags that you need to use.
- Find common hashtags. Your own posts can often be a good source for finding hashtags. Browse through your most popular posts on Instagram and filter out the ones that are relevant to your current post. Ask yourself: Is there a common hashtag that you used in your previous post which you can use again now?
- Ask the right questions. If you want creativity and innovation in your Instagram hashtag strategy, then you need to brainstorm. Rather than using intuition or tools, you can find hashtags by simply asking yourself the right questions. Here are some questions that can help you find relevant hashtags for your content:
- What are the ways in which the product/service being promoted can be categorized?
- Where are the customers located geographically? Is the location important for the content being posted?
- What is the unique selling point of our brand and/or product?
- What problems will be solved if the customer buys our product?
- Which hashtags are the customers in our target industry using that are most relevant to the content?
- What are the customer’s main interests?
- Avoid hashtags with double meaning. A common mistake that is marketers make is to use hashtags that could imply a double meaning. This can lead customers to interpret their brand’s message in a wrong manner. When making use of hashtags, recheck to make sure that the hashtag does not have a double meaning. Remember that sometimes, the words themselves are clear enough but the lack of a space between them (as in hashtags) can lead to them being misinterpreted. A simple example is of #childrenslaughter – this is meant to be children’s laughter but it can also mean children slaughter!
- Make sure they are short and simple. The general rule of thumb when finding hashtags is to avoid phrases. A good practice is to ensure that all your hashtags contain two words or less. The key is to convey the message to the audience in as few characters as possible.
#4 Avoid using a generalized approach
After the thorough search process, it is very easy to be persuaded into using the same hashtags repeatedly. You should avoid this. Make use of variation in your hashtags. Never use the same hashtags for two different posts even if they are similar in meaning.
Using the same hashtags make a brand seem monotonous. This will eventually lead to people turning away from your content and simply ignoring posts by your brand.
While we understand that brand hashtags will generally be the same across all your posts, try to add a bit of variation in the niche and trending hashtags that you use. A good idea is to make use of low competition and less popular hashtags on your posts.
For instance, when you search for hashtags using the Instagram search feature, you can see the number of posts with each hashtag and you will almost always be tempted to make use of the first 3-4 hashtags you see. However, an alternate approach is to use hashtags that are not used as frequently.
The reasoning behind this is simple. When you use popular hashtags, there are a large number of people following them but at the same time, there are a lot of brands/people using them, as well! This means that the hashtag has a high amount of content associated with it. With such hashtags, your content might not always stand out.
When you use hashtags that are used a lesser number of times, there is less competition. Thus, your content will have a higher chance of standing out. To achieve maximum success from your Instagram hashtag strategy, it is good practice to make use of a variety of trending and low competition hashtags.
To Sum Up
Making use of strategy to utilize Instagram hashtags is a great way to stand out amongst all the noise. Developing an efficient Instagram hashtag strategy is essential for connecting with your customers, helping target audiences find content of interest, and building relationships with influencers. We have highlighted the four effective ways, in which you can improve your Instagram hashtag strategy. These include the use of specific and relevant hashtags, not making use of too many hashtags in each post, making use of a thorough search strategy for finding hashtags and avoiding the use of a generalized Instagram hashtag approach. To summarize it all briefly: Always make use of specific, simple and short hashtags that are relevant to your brand, as well as your industry and avoid using hashtags that are too generic.