I came late to Instagram, but from day one, I got more engagement than most newbies, and it took me a while to work out why. I’m a bit of a Twitter marketing expert (I literally wrote the book on Twitter) and one thing I carried over from Twitter to Instagram was strategic hashtag use. Even before I realized you can go mad with hashtags on Instagram (the platform allows up to 30 at a time), I was attracting like-minded Instagrammers to my feed.
Since then I’ve found some great Instagram resources and learned a lot. I love this FREE download from CoachGlue that teaches you how to connect with potential clients on Instagram, and adore this (also FREE) 7-day Instagram course from Alex Tooby, but one thing I now know I was doing right from the start (although it needed refining) was the hashtag thing. Read on to find exactly how to use Instagram hashtags to expand your reach.
How do Hashtags Work and Why Use Them?
When a user searches a word or term (such as “solopreneur” or “digital nomad”), Instagram will show all the recent posts containing that keyword. By using #solopreneur or #digitalnomad as a hashtag on your posts, you are telling Instagram to put forward your post whenever someone searches for those terms on Instagram.
The beauty of hashtags is their ability to reach a wide range of people that may have nothing to do with your account (they don’t follow you specifically). By simply using strategic hashtags, you can increase your content’s reach drastically. Many people actively search out certain hashtags, and your images will be there waiting for them.
Use Brand Specific Instagram Hashtags
Some companies have hit a homerun with brand-specific hashtags. These are different from standard keyword hashtags and take some time to grow. The trick is to create a unique hashtag for your business, and use it whenever you can. So I would use #thesavvysolopreneur as a brand specific hashtag. You can also create a hashtag for a specific product, or even a challenge or contest you’re running.
You should also make effort to spread the word, especially among your followers and customers, and the ultimate goal would be to get them expanding your reach even further by using the hashtag themselves.
Some hashtags aren’t even connected directly to the brand. Iceland Air (who want to market Iceland as a popular stopover destination between Europe and North America) encourage customers to post pics of their stopover in Iceland with the hashtag #mystopover. In the UK, T K Maxx have a rewards program called Treasure, and encourage customers to post pics of their rewards with the hashtag #mytreasure.
Making the Most of Trending Hashtags
Another way to make use of hashtags on Instagram is to target trending hashtags. These are the ones that are super-popular right now. This may be thanks to a current event, or something that has gone viral.
The key is to be on the lookout, notice when a certain hashtag seems popular, and post content under that hashtag to take advantage of the huge number of viewers the hashtag is getting. Make sure the pic or information you post is actually relevant to the event or issue, though. No-one likes a trending hashtags spammer.
Finding the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Business
Plastering random hashtags across the site won’t work the magic for you. You will have to meticulously choose the best hashtags to reach to the right audience. They should be relevant to the keywords searched by your target audience, and you’ll need to keep an eye on which ones perform best for you (which isn’t always easy!).
For more ideas, take a look at your competitor profiles and see the hashtags they use to promote their business. And be aware that finding carefully targeted niche hashtags is more valuable than just going with the super popular ones. If a hashtag is too popular, your post will quickly get lost among thousands of others.
If you’re not using hashtags on Instagram then you really are missing out. They can work very well, but it takes time, thought and analysis to understand which ones will really expand your reach to the next level.
Need to learn more about Instagram hashtags? I have the perfect resource for you. Check out Hashtag Hero from Alex Tooby. You’ll learn how to use hashtags like an Instagram pro, build awareness for your business and attract your ideal clients. Check out this ‘take it anytime’ self-paced online course here.