Instagram lives off of great visual content and fitting hashtags. Most corporate Instagram accounts use them in an inconsistent or unhelpful way. The following strategy guide offers helpful guidelines to ensure you can grow your account with the help of hashtags.
Instagram uses hashtags to categorize and collect content. Hashtags can describe the picture or link it to a topic. Users can search for hashtags and will be presented with all the content labeled with this hashtag, therefore using hashtags will make your content available to a larger amount of users than just your own followers. Likewise, you can refer to hashtags when you are searching for content, new trends or similar accounts. The maximum amount of hashtags you can add to a picture is 30. The following guidelines will help you create a fitting, appropriate strategy for your corporate Instagram hashtags.
1. Choose specific, related hashtags
Instagram is a large community with various and endless inner groups and movements. However, there are still themes, trends and therefore hashtags that are generic and used by a large amount of users. These hashtags will not help you create more visibility or context for your content. Instead, your content will get lost in the midst of these generic hashtags. An example of this is the hashtag #happy which includes over 340.000.000 images. Regardless of how happy you are, this hashtag will not help you grow that happiness.
To reach your desired target group and audience, choose hashtags that are specific to your industry, theme, customer base or your corporate background. The more specific your hashtags are, the higher the possibility that you will be able to reach interested users. Beware of hashtags that are too specific though, as these can lack in visibility. Be specific but stay broad enough to ensure your hashtags will actually be searched for while explaining and underlining your content.
2. Design a branded hashtag
A branded hashtag can be company specific or campaign specific. It is used in place of your company name, slogan or a campaign’s name. The branded hashtag creates a direct association with your company. In this sense, a branded hashtag serves as a long-term representative for your company. To ensure your branded hashtag will be recognized and used on a regular basis by your followers, choose one that is easy to type and use it consistently.
You can have various branded hashtags, a general one to represent your brand overall and specific ones for certain events, campaigns or promotions. A branded hashtag will help you generate viral attention for specific causes or your brand as a whole. The advantage of a hashtag representing a campaign or event is the fact that all related content is organized and gathered under the specific label. This way users can search for content that is solely connected to your brand and its campaigns. In the same way, you are able to track all content that is published in connection to your brand or campaign.
A great example of this is PAUL HEWITT. They animate their customers to share their content under the chosen branded hashtag #getAnchored and have received over 15.000 images.
3. Make a list of possible hashtags
Not every piece of content will/should be the same. Prepare a list of possible hashtags to include in your shared content. Include a section for hashtags that will fit all your content and can therefore be included at all times. These can include branded hashtags, slogans or industry-specific hashtags. Additionally, create a list of hashtags that fit different but specific kinds of content. Examples of this are hashtags that fit product images, others should fit company insights you offer etc. Figure out what different kinds of content you share and prepare fitting lists for them.
Having a list of hashtags on hand is helpful in two ways. Firstly, it allows you to quickly tag your content. When you are sharing a new piece of content, just refer to your list and choose fitting hashtags right away. This saves time and helps you to efficiently share content. Secondly, having a set list of hashtags will ensure you have some extent of continuity in your hashtags. Even though you do not use the same hashtags for all your posts, they will eventually start to repeat themselves. This is positive, as it further categorizes and structures your content.
4. Follow trends to stay up to date
As much as it is advisable to have a set of hashtags to use, Instagram is still a community that is built on trends and interaction. This often includes viral hashtags. These can be related to a viral trend in the online world or to a specific industry, event etc. While you should stick to your set of fitting hashtags, you should also follow some viral trends and incorporate those hashtags into your content. Disclaimer: only incorporate those hashtags if they actually do fit the content you are sharing. It will be no use to use viral hashtags if they do not connect to your shared content.
Still, mix up your list of hashtags, incorporate viral ones and stay up to date with current trends. While these can be related to actual current trends, some viral hashtags have established themselves on the platform in the long-run as well. Examples of this are hashtags like #throwbackthursday or Instagram’s own Weekly Hashtag Project. These are popular on Instagram and offer a new dimension and category for your content.
5. Analyze hashtagged content
Whether it’s your branded hashtag that you encourage your followers to use or industry-specific hashtags: the content shared under this label gives you a great deal of information. You can find out more about competitors from your industry, research your customers and get a sense of topics, ideas, values and lifestyles that are connected to the hashtags you use. Instagram lets you search for hashtags easily, presenting you with all content shared under this label. Flip through the presented content and draw conclusions from it. This will help you create even better content that connects to others who use the same hashtags as you do.
Your branded hashtag will offer you deep insights into your customer base. You will gain visual information about their usage, combination and understanding of your product. In this way it serves as a visual survey on the platform. You can get valuable insights with the use of hashtags. Don’t miss out on them.
6. Do not limit yourself
As mentioned above, Instagram lets you include up to 30 hashtags in a caption or comment. That is quite a lot, might be necessary in some cases though. As hashtags increase the reach and visibility of your content, multiple hashtags will automatically increase those as well. Surely, not ever caption should include 30 hashtags but do not be afraid to use more than two. If you don’t like the look of a long caption with hashtags, include your hashtags in a comment underneath the picture. You can also separate the caption from the hashtags visually. We do the same with content that we wish to generate larger audiences for. See how we do it below.
Hashtags are a great boost for your visibility. They contextualize your content and enable wider interactions with your follower base. If you want to win on Instagram, you need to embrace the potential hashtags offer. Include them in your content and your account will grow (almost) automatically.
Cover photo: unsplash.com/pedrolasta