You’ve heard of hashtags. You know, that symbol we once only knew as “pound” on a phone. While we still know its phone use, it has an additional meaning now. For those newer to using them for marketing purposes, and even for those more familiar with them, here’s the low-down on Instagram's use of hashtags.
What are hashtags?
Think of the way books are organized in a library. You have different categories, like Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction and Non-Fiction. While it’s not as widely used anymore due to advancements in technology, we once used to have to use the physical Dewey Decimal System card catalogs and try to figure out what book could be found where.
Hashtags are essentially categorizing your post. They allow people to find what you’re referencing quickly and easily without having to dig too deep. You’ve seen them - #Marketing #Business #DigitalMarketing - They allow users to search by them or even just click on them from one page and bring them to an entire listing of everyone else’s posts that contain the same one.
It’s important to note that a hashtag is essentially your post’s category, and they can bring you viewers and potential customers just by using them. That’s why it’s important to use the most meaningful but representative hashtags for your company’s posts.
Where and when do you use them?
When you post, you can simply add them on to your post after your caption. You want to always use hashtags to increase your post’s visibility. According to HubSpot, an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than a post with no hashtags! Instagram also picks up hashtags used in comments as well. So if you comment with your related hashtags, it works just as well.
The key is separating them from your photo or video’s caption. So make sure you insert a few breaks before you start the hashtags. Something to note with Instagram: they don’t recognize line breaks unless there’s something on the line. Which is why you will often see posts done in this format, with a bullet, dot or symbol of some type on each line:
How and why do you use hashtags?
We’ve discussed how hashtags are like categories for your post. They allow other Instagram users to click a hashtag or search for a hashtag and see every post that uses the same one, in order of date and relevance.
Additionally, people can choose to follow specific hashtags. For example, if a user is interested in nature photography, they may follow the hashtag #NaturePhoto - so that every post using that hashtag shows up in their notifications when they happen.
The best way to use them is to make sure you’re relating to your post. While you can easily Google the trending hashtags to see what may get you the most views, they still have to relate. If you’re a travel agency and you just posted a great deal on a trip to Paris, you wouldn’t use the hashtag #Plumbing - sure, you may get some people who found you that way, but now Instagram is giving you negative brownie points because you’re not being relevant.
Something to keep in mind - Instagram allows 30 hashtags. While this may seem excessive, they actually don’t frown upon utilizing all 30. In fact, posts with many hashtags are known to perform the best. An ideal way to see what works for you is to a/b test and determine how the number of hashtags affects the engagement for your unique business.
It’s a lot of information to take in. And a great deal of strategizing, and paying close attention to how you label your posts and analyzing what performs the best. This is why many businesses hire a person dedicated to making marketing strategy their focus. Did you know you can hire an entire marketing team to work just like one of your own? (and for less money!) Contact us today to discuss your needs and how we can help!