Hashtags! I could talk about it for hours. I have been using Instagram for the past 3 years. I started from the bottom knowing absolutely nothing about Instagram and all its features. Today, I teach people how to leverage Instagram to run a business and turn followers into paid clients! And guess what, hashtag is one of the most important part of the strategy a business needs to understand when it comes to marketing on the platform.
So here is my Ultimate Instagram Hashtag Guide I believe could help you better understand how to use them for getting more exposure for your business.
What are hashtags?
Consider hashtags like keywords you put in Google search bar. People on Instagram all have hobbies and interests. These interests are then categorised by keywords or in Instagram lingo hashtags.
Hashtags are like free advertising.
If you use a hashtag, people can search for that hashtag and see your post. Or even better, Instagram can feature your posts on:
The Explore page
The home feed of other Instagram accounts (if they are following one of the hashtags you are using)
You could also create your own hashtag and build your community around a passion. I personally recently created a hashtag #focusandshootclub for my brand new Facebook group of beginner and intermediate content creator.
But you can also use already created hashtags to join a community of your interest. And that is how powerful it can be for a business to be able to target their ideal audience!
i.e. If your business is a coffee shop (yes, I love coffee and will include a lot of examples related to coffee in my blog!), your goal is to target coffee amateurs. Just type coffee and tadaaa, you got multiple choices of hashtags to pick.
But which one will bring you more exposure for your business?
What strategy to use to gain exposure for your business?
Use the hashtag stack strategy
I like to use the stack strategy to be able to reach as big of an audience as possible. Therefore I would break down my hashtags as follow:
15 - Very niche specific hashtags. Between 10K and 50K followers.
10 - Intermediate hashtags in your niche. Between 50K and 200K followers
4 - Very popular hashtags. Between 500K and 1M followers
1 - Your personal hashtag for your brand
Do not make the mistake of using very popular hashtags with hundred thousands of followers or million of followers. It will have the same effect as throwing a rock in the middle of the sea. You will make small waves and be forgotten in matter of seconds.
Instead focus on specific hashtags related to your niche. The easiest way to find them is to just type your keyword in the search bar, look for the hashtag in the range of followers you need and pick them one by one.
Instagram allows you to use maximum 30 hashtags per post. Choose a mix of hashtags: mix popular, intermediate, niche and community hashtags every time you post. This mix will allow you to appear in front of the eyes of different people and communities, who are still part of the same “industry” you are targeting.
Use the discovery page strategy
Your goal as a business is to be present among the top 9 photos of the discovery page of the hashtags you are using in your posts. Here is an example of one of my latest photos from Dublin.
For this photo, I used very niche specific hashtags
After 2-3 days, I clicked on each one of these hashtags to see where my photo was ranked and here are the results for a few hashtags. My post was among the top 9 photos for these hashtags.
Why is it important to be ranked among the top 9 photos of a hashtag discovery page?
Because people will click or tap on the first photos of the result page.
You don’t believe me?
How many times do you go to page 2 or more of a google search result?
If you are like me and the majority of people online, you will click on the first search results on the page! It also means that your photo is popular at the moment and will encourage people in this community to go see it and ideally check out your profile.
How to be ranked among the top 9?
Just reverse engineer the process. if people find you among the top 9 photos of a hashtag result. Then just go and check the hashtags being used by these top 9 photos and pick the one you believe are the most relevant with your niche.
Create content relevant to your niche you believe people will enjoy and engage with. The more engagement you get on your photo or video, meaning: comments, likes, save and share. The more popular your content will be and have more chances to be ranked among the top 9 photos.
Use the Location strategy
If you are a local business, your target niche is mostly people living in the city where your business is located. Therefore, for every single one of your post, make sure to use the location feature but also hashtags related to your city.
People use Instagram to find out what is trendy in the city where they live. Whether it is the new popular brunch spot or the best coffee shop in town! ;)
So, do not hesitate to combine, on top of the location tag, the country, city and niche hashtags.
i.e. country: #Ireland, city: #dublin, niche: #Dublincoffeeshops
Use the Brand Strategy
I mentioned earlier that you need to keep one hashtag for branding and that is for your brand. It needs ideally to be the same as your Instagram handle to make it easier for people to find you.
Start using this hashtag from your first post. Encourage people to tag you on their posts when they visit your shop or use one of your products so that they can enjoy a discount on their next visit.
It is a great way to build a community and encourage engagement so that your hashtag ranks among the most popular. And overtime, the more popular you get, the easier it will be for people to find your business as you will be ranked among the top results once people will search for a keyword in your niche!
How to evaluate the efficiency of the hashtag you use?
Finding the right sets of hashtags is a matter of trials and errors until you find the winning formula. But there is a way for you to evaluate if the hashtags you are using bring you in front of a large audience.
1.Make sure to convert your account to a business account
2. Open your photo and tap view insights
3.You will be able to see the engagement you receive on this post. The number of likes, comments, shares and save. You will be able to see your reach. how many people were exposed to your post. And also how many people visited your profile after seeing this post.
4.Then, if you swipe up from the bottom to the top. You will see more insights. What should interest you is the discovery part at the bottom.
On this example, you can see that this post reached 4,425 accounts and that 20% of these accounts, meaning 885 accounts were not following me. And you can also see, how many accounts found you thanks to the hashtags you used for this post. In this example 468 accounts.
So this is the kind of metrics as a business that you need to pay attention to.
And now, as per January 2019, Instagram has started to roll out a new update that allows to know which hashtags is getting you the most impressions so that you can adjust your set of hashtags to use for your future posts.
Sure it is great to get likes. It is good for your ego and it is also a good metric to know if your content is relevant for your audience. But the most important for your business is to be discovered.
If you get discovered, you then get more chances for people to find your product or service and therefore start to consider visiting your shop or buying your product.
Instagram is a very powerful tool for businesses to leverage and encourage brand awareness which is the first stage of your lead generation campaign.
And the great news is that it is FREE to use!
To be honest I would not bother using advertising for a brand awareness campaign. It is in my opinion a waste of money. Just focus on being consistent and posting at the time your audience is the most active. I wrote a few articles to help you better manage your time and how to schedule your content in advance if you are interested to learn more.
If you are thinking of using Instagram for your business or maybe already have an account but are not seeing the results you need for your business, make sure to register to my FREE online training where I break the 3 biggest mistakes you are making today using Instagram and how to fix them.
Just click here to register your spot. It is on the first come, first serve basis. Seats are limited to 100 people only.
If you would rather want to speak with me one on one, do not hesitate to contact me, I offer Marketing Strategy Sessions.
This was my Ultimate Instagram Hashtag Strategy Guide For Your Business. I hope that this will help you get your business discovered and gain more engagement. Using the right business strategy and knowing how to use Instagram the right way is the perfect combo to running a successful business on Instagram.
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