How to Properly Use Hashtags on Instagram for Growth
By Ethan Sigmon
Hashtags are everywhere, at minimum most of us know of them but what is their purpose? Hashtags are a way for people to search for media on social networks that have a common topic. For example, if you searched the hashtag #GameofThrones on twitter, you’ll find tweets discussing the show. This allows us to connect our posts to a universally searchable topic. The point of using them is to create a wider reach than you previously would have on your own. Hashtags on Instagram are a bit different than what you may be used to in the past however. We’re going to dive into the more intricate details on utilizing hashtags on this growing channel.
How a hashtag can turn into a customer
One of the main benefits of hashtags is that they guide you through the masses, straight to your potential customers.
How do you find them though?
You need to know where your target customers are on Instagram. Each business will be different, but theoverall process should be the same.
Let’s say you are trying to launch a new Energy drink and want to use Instagram to market it. Energy drinks are often associated with racing, extreme sports, etc… So hop on Instagram and start searching #racing, #sports, #Cars, #ExtremeSports. Once you search a hashtag start exploring the results and study the posts and people associated with this hashtag.
Do this until you find a few different hashtags that you feel really represent your products target demographic on Instagram. When making your list of preferred hashtags it’s crucial to remember to include both popular (+400,000) and non popular tags to optimize your exposure.
Engaging with interaction
Interacting with users will be time consuming, but is more personable. For example, let’s say I sell protein. After I had identified 5 – 10 hashtags that my target customers seem to use on their posts, I would search the first hashtag in Instagram’s explorer. Then I would start from the top and begin to click relevant images, follow the person that posted the media and like a couple of their most recent pictures. I would continue to repeat this process for as many media posts as I could.
What this does is create engagement between you and them. The goal is to have them see this activity, and peak their curiosity. It should lead to them to view your profile, it it seems like something they are interested in they will most likely follow you back. If you have created your profile in a way that represents your your brand and shows what you do, they will naturally view your products.
Finding influencers associated with targeted hashtag
Leveraging influencers is a lot easier but costs a little bit of money. We will continue to use the example of a protein supplement company. Instead of searching for people to follow and like their photos, the goal is to find Instagram accounts focused on our targeted hashtags with large followings. Search the same hashtags and find accounts with 500,000+ followers. Usually these accounts will list their KiK, email or some form of contact information in their bio. This allows you to reach out to them to learn their pricing for sponosred posts. The end result will be a sponsored post on their large account where you can insert any call to action you like. These typically result in LARGE follower bumps.
Regardless of which method you use, or combination, it will take time. I have spent countless hours trying to find large accounts with the desired following because Instagram doesn’t have a feature to sort accounts by follower numbers or interaction. However there are certain tools out there that can make the process a bit more seamless.
Be conscious of your hashtags
Whether you’re posting on your business account or personal account, hashtags can help you or hurt you. Use hashtags that are relevant to the post to draw in people that are interested in the subject. I think we have all seen hashtags used and abused. Sometimes you’ll see hashtags like #followback #likeforlike which usually leads to a spammy taste in your mouth. Generally on Instagram I avoid using hashtags in the description of the photo, I will put them in the comments section to keep the post from looking cluttered.
Hashtags are a powerful marketing tool if you use them correctly. These are just a few examples of the possible ways to leverage them. I would love to hear how others are leveraging hashtags. Leave a comment and let me know what you are doing with hashtags.
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