One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is: which hashtags should I include in my Instagram posts? Although the strategy for choosing hashtags varies for each company, you should consider including certain categories of hashtags – and the number of hashtag mentions – in every Instagram post.
(noun) A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications to identify digital content on a specific topic.
(verb) Add a hashtag to (digital content) to identify it as concerning a specific topic.
Location, Location, Location!
Location hashtags for your business can get as specific as the street name of your business, if it is well-known. Consider including hashtags for your neighborhoods, surrounding communities and your city to attract customers from other areas. Location hashtags enable you to reach specific target markets that may not be following your brand or product hashtags in a certain geography.
Following hashtags on Instagram allows you “to stay connected with interests you care about. To follow a hashtag:
Tap any hashtag (example: #flower) you see on Instagram.
Tap Follow. Once you follow a hashtag, you'll see its photos and videos appear in feed.”
Brand Names – Companies / Products / People
Are you showcasing your own branded products or services in your posts? Establish a set of brand name hashtags to include in posts featuring the products or services you are representing. You want others to start using your branded hashtags so that you aware of what others are saying about you, your company and your products/services.
Do your posts represent or mention another company’s product or service – or even an individual? If so, tag those companies, products and people – especially key influencers - that relate to your post content. Tagging another account(s) in your Instagram posts using the ‘@’ symbol (i.e., @elevate.next) provides you with a way to engage others in the conversation you started. Tagging helps get your digital content noticed and may result in a re-post by those you tag in their newsfeed or story! It could also result in a potential collaboration opportunity with a customer, supplier, influencer or another business.
In addition to tagging, always include the other company’s branded hashtags – just as you would your own. Even if the company you tagged does not respond, you still have the potential to tap into their fan base by using the appropriate branded hashtags. A branded hashtag could be a company name, a product or service name, a well-known tag line, an influencer’s Instagram handle, etc.
What is an Influencer (ˈinflo͝oənsər)?
IN MARKETING: a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media (e.g., "influencers can add serious credibility to your brand")
Keep in mind, that, "when it comes to influencers, bigger isn't always better, as social media accounts with smaller followings often have a more engaged audience than larger ones." As with hashtag sets, however, it is best to partner with a diverse set of influencers to gauge the interest in your brand. According to Strategy + Business, "influencer marketing is the hottest category for businesses seeking to achieve maximum brand impact at optimal ROI." The magazine references a study from Business Insider, which predicts that the influencer market value will reach $15 billion in 2022 (up from $8B in 2019! Smaller-scale influencers may be more budget friendly and willing to work with trades, rather than outright fees for featuring your brand.
Cultural Memes and Pop-Culture References
The old adage to avoid sex, religion and politics in business (unless that is your business) also applies to social media. If your post content resonates as a pop culture reference with your target market, use the appropriate hashtag to increase your chances of reaching potential customers. Before posting, however, check to see how others are using the same pop-culture hashtag to: (1) avoid derogatory undertones; or (2) instigate a polarized debate (2020 reference). You do not want to accidentally damage your brand by accidentally associating your public content with a controversial, cultural reference.
Your Role and Related Content
No matter the topic, select hashtags that focus on the message you are delivering (i.e., are you blogging? Selling a service? Introducing a new product?). When blogging, for example, try using hashtags like #bloggerlifestyle (1M+ mentions) and #travelblogs (200K+ mentions) that connects with content captured in your post. ELEVATE NEXT, for example, uses hashtags related to the post’s content, as well as our unique identity (i.e., a female entrepreneur and business owner). We also include hashtags that reference the services we provide: integrated marketing, business consulting and project management.
The Numbers: Too Many or Too Few?
Instagram only allows thirty hashtags per post – which is not as many as you might think. When selecting the best hashtags to use, evaluate the number of mentions for each hashtag. Hashtag mentions are “the total number of posts that include a given hashtag. Every post or comment including the hashtag counts as a new mention.”
Plann, a social media planning app, segments the number of hashtags mentions as follows:
< 250K Mentions
Use hashtags with a smaller set of mentions for targeted niches that could see your content over a few days, rather than a few hours!
> 250K Mentions
With great content, you can get targeted interaction with this size.
> 500K Mentions
This is a competitive space. If you have great content and engagement rates, you can get good traction in this segment.
> 1M Mentions
Unless you have a spectacular engagement rate, this is difficult space to get noticed.
Diversifying your hashtags by category and number of mentions will give you the best chance to maximize your potential customer touchpoints on Instagram. Plann recommends using hashtags with mentions in the 250-750K range - if you have a high engagement rate (4-5%). Otherwise, start with using a mix of hashtags with under 250K mentions.
Choosing the right mix of hashtags and hashtag mentions requires repeat testing of different combinations. You want to know whether your content is GREAT. Did your post result in comments, likes or sales? Post engagement will let you know whether you are using the right set of hashtags to communicate your message to the right audience.
If at first you do not succeed, continue testing and refining the hashtag mix until you get the strategy right for your company and brand(s)! #protip: Save the small set of hashtags you will consistently use to describe your company, brands and geography – no matter the content. What should vary by post is the post-related content hashtags.
You can also add smaller groups of hashtags to your Instagram stories. Plann recommends using five hashtags in your stories. Stay tuned for our next blog article on creating and managing great content in your Instagram stories!
If all of this sounds overwhelming, Elevate Next can help you manage your social media with our customized solutions! We have a proven track record of increasing our clients’ brand awareness in the digital realm and improving their bottom line. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation to discuss your social media needs!
Case, Tony. Paying Attention to Humans. Strategy + Business. Winter 2020. Pages 90-93.
Strategy + Business