With one billion monthly users, Instagram packs a punch with visually engaging content that attracts audiences from across the globe. So it’s no surprise that approximately 75% of businesses are set to use Instagram in 2020. So, the question here is how do you ensure your visually engaging content will get seen in this sea of competition?
The answer: Instagram hashtags!
These are a crucial aspect of your Instagram marketing initiatives, especially if you want more impressions and more engagement on your Instagram posts in 2020. What steps can businesses take to implement an effective Instagram hashtag strategy and improve their visibility on this social media platform? How can you build a community around your brand and gain more customers for your business? This guide on how to use Instagram hashtags is your one-stop-shop for everything #IG!
Why Instagram Hashtags Are Important
As a platform, Instagram offers minimal search capabilities for users to find content, which is why hashtags are critical to your Instagram marketing efforts. They enable Instagram users to categorize content as well as help businesses raise brand awareness.
Hashtags are why Instagram posts receive 12.6% more engagement compared to those without. Moreover, they increase your reach, boost your SEO, and laser-target particular demographics. Fun fact: The gender mix is surprisingly quite even, with 52% female and 48% male users.
A few things to keep in mind:
- When private profiles post with hashtags, their content won’t appear on hashtags, at least publicly.
- While numbers are allowed in hashtags, special characters and spaces don’t work.
- Hashtags will only work on your posts. Commenting them on other’s posts doesn’t work.
- The hashtag limit for Instagram posts is 30 hashtags, 30 hashtags in the description of your IGTV, and 10 hashtags for Instagram stories.
The Different Types of Instagram Hashtags
There’s a wide range of hashtags you can link to your brand, but understanding the differences in audience and reach for each – is crucial to developing an effective Instagram hashtag strategy.
Community hashtags are those that connect users with interests in similar subjects.
They not only help your brand connect with users, but also help you to improve your posts’ reach and grow your following. Some types of community hashtags for your business:
- Industry-related Instagram communities – #beautybloggers or #carsofinstagram
- Event or season Hashtags – #mothersday or #nationaldonutday
- Everyday hashtags – #tgif (thank god it’s Friday) or #qotd (quote of the day)
- Hashtags with phrases relevant to your products/service – #travelphotography or #pizzalover
- Hashtags using location, like #nycgym or #steakhousemiami
Use a wide range of hashtags on your posts and stories so you can maximize your reach in different communities.
If your brand is community-centric, consider creating your community hashtag – the more niche-specific your hashtag is, the more engaged your users will be.
200 million Instagram users visit a minimum of one business profile daily.
While community hashtags are used to increase the reach of your posts, businesses use branded hashtags to connect their brand to their audience.
A branded hashtag is unique to your company and can be as simple as your brand name or tagline. Encourage followers to use your branded hashtag through UGC content (user-generated content) in their posts and stories, essentially helping new audiences to discover your brand.
For example, Hootsuite features UGC to promote their business through #hootsuitelife. In particular, the owl symbolic of their brand image represented in fun, cute ways!
Share your hashtag on your stories or highlight them through your captions. This way, followers can tap the hashtag and see other posts about your business. Once you’ve got that covered, follow your branded hashtag to track new content!
While businesses create branded and community hashtags for long term use, campaign hashtags are usually run for short, promotional periods as they’re usually tied to campaigns such as product launches, partnerships, or special events.
For example, Gucci recently made a post using hashtag #GucciPreFall2020, their new summer sandal designs.
The Beauty of Instagram Hashtag Search Results
It’s worth mentioning that regardless of how exhaustive your efforts are – there’s no guarantee that your content will rank well on any hashtag search.
The search results for all hashtags are sorted by Instagram’s algorithm for top-performing posts and for recent posts.
All results in the ‘Top’ tab are algorithmically sorted based on the type of content users most interact with. The algorithm knows your content preferences and will sort Instagram’s search results based on your likes and browsing behavior.
As a result, if two users search for the same hashtag, they’ll see different results based on their individual preferences.
On the other hand, the ‘Recent’ tab shows content that the algorithm sorts chronologically, meaning the most recently shared post appears as the top result.
How Many Instagram Hashtags Are Too Many?
You can only use 30 hashtags per post, so how do you go about using them for maximum effectiveness?
Generally speaking, more is better! Include as many relevant hashtags as you can, but make sure they’re all relevant to your business. Also, combine hashtags from different popular categories.
Here’s our recipe for success:
- Choose three to five popular hashtags with 300,000 to one million posts each.
- Pick around five moderately popular hashtags; these usually have 80,000 to 300,000 posts.
- Select a few niche-specific hashtags that focus on your industry, your products/services, and your audience.
- Be sure to include your unique branded hashtags.
Pro tip: Avoid hashtags that have over one million posts – because these are so heavily saturated, they will only attract spam bots to your posts, instead of actual engagement.
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Captions or Comments – Where To Place Your Instagram Hashtags?
Place your hashtags in one of two spots: the post caption or the comments on your post.
In all truth, there’s no difference to their functionality in either of the spots, so it comes down to your preferences.
That said, as a business looking to redirect followers to your website or e-commerce store, your captions are likely to contain CTAs. Therefore, including your hashtags in your caption can clutter the space up and make it difficult for the CTA to stand out.
On the other hand, adding hashtags in your comments means they quickly disappear once your posts get a few other comments.
Dive into your Hashtag Research
How can you use Instagram hashtags so that your content is effective and has a meaningful impact? There might be tons of hashtags popular for your products/services, and they’ll only get you so far as to a few more likes – like our search for #catvideos.
But if you’re looking to garner real engagement and quality followers, you need to dive deeper and research more specific hashtags. For example, #nycsteakhouse is specific to steakhouses in New York City and yields fewer results.
Luckily, online tools like Mentionlytics can help:
Based on your insights, Mentionlytics automatically identifies product – and industry-related hashtags that are proven to perform well – and recommends these for your future posts.
Moreover, you can quickly analyze competitors’ profiles to understand what hashtags are trending and how to keep up with them, so you also rank well on search results. The more niche a topic is, the more conversations your users are having around it.
Additionally, Mentionlytics can help you identify profiles that you can collaborate with to improve your brand’s awareness, so you can work to become a more competitive force to be reckoned with.
Measuring your Instagram Hashtag Performance
The success of your marketing initiatives lies in measuring the performance of your work. With Instagram, Insights, and Mentionlytics, it never looked so easy.
Instagram provides all its business accounts with its free analytics tool, Instagram Insights. It includes the analytics on your activity, content, and audience demographics.
By digging into ‘Posts Impressions,’ you can quantify the impressions you receive from your hashtags for individual posts. You can also compare these to the impressions you receive from Home, your profile, and others.
Mentionlytics helps you make sense of your Instagram Insights analytics and provides you with information with what’s yielding results – and what’s not.
We proactively assess the performance of the Instagram hashtag strategy and employ social intelligence tools to improve your social media strategy continuously.
With Mentionlytics, you can:
- Track critical Insights from your mentions
- Analyze social mentions from your hashtags for engagement, sentiment, and reach
- Explore your hashtags to discover your brand’s fans and ambassadors for you to collaborate with
- Find hashtags your competitors are ranking well on and advise you on ranking high as well
- Detect viral and trending hashtags so you can hop on the train at the right time
What Hashtags Should You NOT Use?
While there is nothing wrong with using the same hashtags in all your posts, don’t forget to spice things up occasionally. Make sure to steer clear of irrelevant Instagram hashtags for your brand.
While Instagram hashtags do boost your reach on the platform, using irrelevant hashtags incurs more damage than good. If a user explores a hashtag and finds an incredibly irrelevant post pop up, it could take away you’re your brand’s credibility.
The Instagram algorithm will pick up spammy or irrelevant hashtags. Avoid ‘quick fix’ Instagram hashtags such as #followforfollow — which might work now, but leads to a drop in engagement in the future. Plus, it just doesn’t look classy, which can lead to a poor brand image.
Hashtags in Your Bio
Back in 2018, Instagram introduced hashtag and profile links for the profile bio – and the feature has soon grown in popularity.
Not only is it a great way to tell people more about your account, but your business can also highlight your branded hashtag as a critical aspect of your Instagram presence.
Your Instagram bio is likely to be the first thing users see; being able to incorporate profile links and hashtags can familiarize users with your brand and, hopefully, encourage them to start using it themselves!
Follow Instagram Hashtags
In a recent update, Instagram enabled users to follow Instagram hashtags in the same way you follow Instagram accounts!
The new feature lets users follow branded hashtags and keep up with updates as well as new posts and stories from your brand. Additionally, brands can follow their own Instagram hashtags as well as those in the same industry/ niche so that you can stay up-to-date with new trends.
Ready to Get Started on your Instagram Hashtag Strategy?
Instagram will reach 112.5 million U.S. users this year. There’s no doubt that your audience is using it, and to reach them, you’ll have to use the right hashtags. They allow the right audiences to discover your brand and get your content to consumers who might need your products/services the most.
Are you strategically using Instagram hashtags to garner more exposure for your brand?
As online platforms continue to grow, social media marketers need to expand their capabilities to excite audiences with relevant and engaging content.
What better way to monitor your brand?
Mentionlytics analyzes your data and provides you with relevant, useful insights – so you can implement proven strategies to encourage more engagement and gain business. Gain customer insight in real-time and tailor your services to meet their expectations.
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