Lately I have been doing a lot of work on Instagram. I am not new to the social media giant, but working on it from a business point of view has taught me a few things…
Lesson 1: Adding #hashtags
We all know that hashtags are an important tool to help grow your brand on Instagram. But did you know that Instagram is designed with an algorithm that favours posts with high engagement? Basically this means the more likes or comments your post receives, the more people will see your post.
Great! So using hashtags with a lot of following will help you reach a wider audience…but take caution. Some hashtags are overused (those that have been posted a million or more times) which might make it difficult for your target audience to find your story among all the rest of the stories associated with the same hashtags.
Okay, so what now? Don’t fear…nothing a bit of hashtag research can’t fix. My advice, search hashtags on Instagram that you would associate with your brand and see what posts you find. This way you will have a better idea of whether you will reach the correct target audience. You will most often find that the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users will be.
You should focus on using hashtags that describe your brand, product and your target audience. For example, if you promote baby food you can use hashtags such as #freshbabyfood, #normaloldbabyfood, #babyblends and #organicbabyfood. These hashtags clearly describe your brand and product. Now, to describe your target audience, you can use what is called community hashtags. These are Instagram hashtags that connect like-minded users that have the same specific subject in common. Sticking to the baby food example, you can use hashtags such as #girlmom, #babymom, #dailyparenting or #motherhood. Additionally, you can search industry leaders and influencers in your target market to compare the community hashtags that they use. Embracing these tactics are a great way to connect with your target audience, improve the search ability of your posts, gain followers and even grow your own community.
Another useful tip would be not to copy and past the exact same list of hashtags that you would usually add to your posts. When you continue to use the exact same hashtag list over and over again you trigger Instagram’s spam algorithm which will affect your post visibility. You have to switch up your Instagram hashtags in every single post. It sounds like a tedious task, I know…but at the end of the day it comes down to quality vs quantity. The most effective way to switch up your hashtags is to first identify the hashtags you would like to incorporate in your social media strategy, sort them into different categories for the different type of content you would like to post, and only use your selected hashtag when they add value to the story your sharing.
Lesson 2: Following #hashtags
And then there is the ability to follow hashtags. Why would this add value to your social media strategy? Because when you start to follow a hashtag, you can click on your followings, toggle from the users that you follow to the hashtags that you follow. Instagram then shows you a list of suggested hashtags to follow based on what your interest are… It is a very handy research tool that assists with gathering new suggestions which you can then add to your posts.
Lesson 3: Tracking #hashtag success
You can analyse each and every single post to see how it is performing. What exactly do I mean? On Instagram (only when you have a business profile) you can see exactly how effective your post was at attracting your targeted audience. This result is based on impressions from various sources, such as the hashtags that you used. Having access to this information can help you track your hashtag strategy and also narrow down the hashtags that are most effective for your brand.
You should have no doubts in the #hashtag power – hashtags do still work… Having a hashtag strategy is a great way to connect with your target audience. I think the most vital thing to remember is that you need to be intentional with your hashtag selection; it has to be in line with the kind of hashtags your target audience is searching for and following. So try implementing your own hashtag strategy and discover how it can change your overall audience reach & engagement.