The following could be also applied to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Although your audiences might differ so your hashtag ratios might alter.
Instagram Hashtags, do you really need to use them?
The short answer is yes. How you use them and when you use them will depend on both your audience and your industry. But there is no getting away from them, the sooner you embrace them, the more effective any Instagram marketing will be.
With each and every Instagram post you need to include a range of hashtags to ensure you reach the maximum audience possible.
After extensive reading and testing of hashtags there are several that I believe any small business must include in your Instagram social media marketing.
Branded hashtags: Every business is a brand, from the individual hairstylist to a global business-like Apple. You may not consider your business to be a brand but in your customers eyes it has certain values and ethos, thus making it a brand. You need to create a few unique branded hashtag (well as unique as you can, they still need to make sense). They should be attached to every post not just on Instagram but every social media platform that allows hashtags. Also in any printed material. You can now add hashtags to your profile. Encourage your audience to use them in any content they create. It can include your brand name, but it doesn’t have to as long as it is relatable to you.
Contest hashtags: Almost everybody is running competitions on Instagram, it is an excellent way to extend the reach of both your content and your brand awareness. You can include both your own branded competition hashtags along with general contest hashtags like #instacontest #freecompetition #giveaway.
Geographic hashtags: Most small businesses are pulling their customers from a certain geographical area so need to include relevant hashtags, this is important as people tend to follow their local area hashtag. An idea would be to create local related content thus helping you get significant geographical reach on your posts, because they’re more likely to be sought out.
Niche-specific customer hashtags: Your industry will have phrases and keywords that are relevant only to your audience. Although these hashtags won’t get you the same potential reach as the general-appeal hashtags, they will get you more relevant traffic. Which is better quality engagement or general engagement and lots of likes and comments from people who in the short term will not be your customers? With these hashtags it is vital to consider what your audience might be searching for!
Timely hashtags: Current events and seasonal holidays can make great hashtags, also known as news hijacking. Especially if you are providing a solution to a customer problem. People are likely to be searching for content that’s relevant right now, so take advantage of a few #valentineformyvalentine and #stockingstuffer #weddingdressideas hashtags. However never post content that is not relevant to the timely hashtag just to gain likes or followers they will not stay engaged and your loyal followers may unfollow.
Entertaining hashtags: Not all hashtags are there to extend your reach, you can use hashtags to enhance the content of your post. Remember as well as extending your reach you need to keep those that already follow you engaged. You can use hashtags to entertain your audience and help you to establish your business brand. They’re meant purely to be funny or clever, and that’s it. Examples #iknowitstooearlyforchristmasstuff and #thisiswhyweallhatemonday #realwordproblems. It is a good idea to group them together to add to your message #iknowitstooearlyforchristmasstuff #toobad #itshereanyway #230daystillchristmas
General appeal hashtags: There are certain hashtags that are popular among large, diverse audiences. Some social media experts would argue that these need to be included in your posts. I would suggest testing these hashtags. Depending on your influence you could be wasting a hashtag, yes it is nice to include #love but when you are competing with 1.6 Billion other posts with the same hashtag. Ask yourself is that hashtag going to achieve anything?
Finally, when creating your own hashtags for your brand or entertainment always wise to have a second pair of eyes look them over.
#susanalbumparty Even the great Simon Cowell gets it wrong.
#nowthatchersdead People thought Cher had died.
#clitfest a branded hashtag for Chester Literary Festival
#rimjobs We wonder why Blackberry fell and Apple took over. Nobody applied for their jobs.
If you would like support and guidance on hashtag use for your business please get in touch.