Hashtags on Instagram make it easy to categorize images, while at the same time making them accessible to a larger audience than solely your own followers. Thereby they also simplify the process of searching for relevant photos and videos within the social media platform. Consequently, it makes great sense for companies to establish a brand-specific hashtag and encourage their customers to use it. Not only to generate a broader reach for their posts, but also to strengthen the customer community.

What is a branded hashtag?

A branded hashtag simply is a hashtag unique to your business. Whether you choose your brand name, the name of a product, or something that fits your brand-identity, the most important thing is that it's simple and catchy. The goal of a  branded hashtag should be to create a factor of recognition and thereby strengthen the perception of your brand in the long term. In addition, it can help your as a brand connect with your customers while at the same time strengthening customer loyalty. A branded hashtag can also be a great way to get in touch with customers for the first time. In terms of user-generated content, a well-established brand hashtag also enables you to measure the activity of your customers and the amount of content generated by them.

How to establish a branded hashtag

As you might know, many roads lead to Rome. It's quite similar with the ways that lead to esablishing a brand-specific hashtag. We have prepared three suggestions for you:

#1 Add little notes to your products
Wether it's at the register in your stores or when packaging items that have been bought online, there is always room for a note. While it gives you the opportunity to thank your customers for their purchase at the one hand, it allows you prominently place your branded hashtag on the other. Ideally, you include a call-to-action on it and thereby encourage your customers to showcase their look or your product in use.

#2 Give your customers the chance to be featured
In today's age of micro to mega-influencers, Instagram is all about generating a broad reach and large numbers of followers. Consequently, the idea of a post being shared via an official brand account seems appealing to many users, as it promises a new and, most importantly, wider audience. You as a brand can easily make use of this incentive and  activate your customer community to spread your branded hashtag this way.

#3 Integrates the hashtag into a raffle
Prize raffels are a great way to generate activity and interaction on Instagram. In addition to a competition- or campaign-specific hashtag, which will be discussed in more detail later on in this blog post, it's always a good idea to include your branded hashtag as part of such an activity. A great advantage of competitions that encourage the creation of user generated content is, that your brand name and products can easily be passed on to users who have not become aware of it yet . If you use a catchy brand hashtag on top of all this, there is a good chance that many people will remember it.

What are the benefits of a branded hashtag?

A branded hashtag allows you as a business to increase the reach of your content. It can also generate recognition value for your brand. Above all, an established branded hashtag can strengthen both customer loyalty and your customer community. A prime example of this is provided by our customer foodspring with their branded hashtag #foodspringfamily.

Especially in the field of health and fitness, Instagram users tend to interact a lot and support each other. Motivational comments on pictures that document someone’s way to a healthier lifestyle are quite a common thing. foodspring, as a nutrition-brand that represents a healthy lifestyle, immensely profits from this high engagement, as their target group exactly falls into this category. Through using the branded hashtag  #foodspringfamily, the brand actively contributes to the establishment of a strong customer community.

 
Branded Hashtags vs. Campaign Hashtags

In addition to the branded hashtag, you as a company also have the opportunity to introduce campaign hashtags. While a classic branded hashtag is designed to establish itself over a longer period of time and create a recognition value, campaign hashtags tend to only be valid for a few weeks or months. As their name suggests, they are linked to a specific campaign or action. Campaign hashtags can, for example,  help you keep track of all submissions in a raffle and precisely filter out relevant content.

Our customer STABILO provides a great example for such an Instagram campaign:

The stationery manufacturer's latest campaign started in February of this year, prompting customers to create their own STABILO packaging design. STABILO provided a template for free download. The only conditions for participation were that the design was created by hand and with pens or markers by STABILO. The finished work of art then had to be  posted on Instagram with the campaign hashtag #mySTABILOdesign and a mention of @stabilodeutschland.

Throughout the course of the campaign, over 400 artworks came together, among which STABILO ultimately selected two winners. Each received a gift set of STABILO pens worth €100, and the two winning designs will soon appear on actual STABILO packaging.