Let’s face it, hashtags are an essential marketing strategy for your online business. Twitter may have created them, but Instagram put them on the map. Perhaps back in 2010, we didn’t think of hashtags as a part of marketing strategy but fast forward to today, we realize that the use of hashtags can make or break your Instagram post. So, if you want to know how to use hashtags or you’re new to the whole “hashtagging” world, then you’re in the right place.
What Is a Hashtag?
A hashtag or the pounded symbol (#) is a tool you use to promote your brand or store. You usually see these hashtags underneath a caption, in the comments section, or in someones Instagram bio. These hashtags are used by businesses to let their audience know about their brand.
But, before hashtags became part of businesses’ marketing strategy, they were used in various ways to express one’s self or thoughts. It was Chris Messina, a product designer from Silicon Valley, who brought the hashtag to Twitter. However, Twitter thought it was too nerdy. Well, jokes on them, right?
“He got the idea of using a hashtag from Internet chat rooms that had a pound symbol in front of them,” says Erin Black from CNBC. “He decided to pitch the idea to Twitter, but the company told him it was ‘nerdy’ and that it would never catch on.”
Today, 23.1 % of Instagram posts have anywhere from four to ten hashtags. You can even see big companies, social media influencers, and the average Joe use hashtags on Instagram. But if you’re thinking of using as many hashtags as possible to grow your audience, think again. Studies have shown that engagement decreases for posts that use six or more hashtags. We’ll discuss more on how to strategically use hashtags in the latter part of this guide.
Why Are Hashtags So Important on Instagram?
Now that we know about how hashtags started, we will answer people’s most common questions. Why are hashtags important on Instagram? Truthfully, it’s because hashtags are the secret sauce to success.
Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users based on the report in June 2018. It’s a pretty impressive number because it tells us how popular Instagram is and it tells business owners that Instagram is a good platform upon which to position their business. But, with the thousands of stores selling on Instagram, how can customers filter through the market?
This is where hashtags come in.
Hashtags are one of the best ways to get found and get more people to visit your post. A report even stated that Instagram posts that use hashtags gain a 12.6% increase in engagement compared to those that do not. Considering that Instagram has limited search capabilities, hashtags paved the way for users to easily search for content that interests them. If you’re using hashtags to get found in the search results, these are the three golden strategies you need to follow to get better results.
Strategy #1: Use the Best and Most Relevant Hashtags for Your Instagram Post
Before you start using hashtags, you need to research for the most relevant and targeted hashtags you can use. You can’t use a hashtag like #ootd if you’re selling gadgets. To help you look for a hashtag on Instagram, use the hashtag tracking tool by Task Ant.
Task Ant lets you search for a hashtag you can use and gives you in-depth results of related hashtags. Simply create a free account, enter any hashtag, and voila! Task Ant also allows you to see the hashtag strategies that are working for your competitors. In this way, you can get an insight into how you can tweak your strategy and improve it to gain a better edge.
Strategy #2: The Art of Using Instagram Hashtags
It may be tempting to use as many hashtags as possible considering that Instagram allows you to use up to thirty hashtags per post, but it isn’t effective. Researchers found that the optimal number of hashtags to be used in a post is eleven. So, if you want to get the most engagements while staying relevant, place eleven hashtags on your Instagram post.
Here is a secret and proven hashtag recipe you should use:
- Choose three popular hashtags – Popular hashtags are those that have 300,000 to 1 million posts. Don’t use hashtags that have more than 1 million posts because it’s already too saturated for you to be relevant.
- Select three moderately popular hashtags – These are the hashtags that fall in the 80,000 to 300,000 range.
- Select three niche-specific hashtags – These hashtags are targeted towards your market and industry. For example, if you are selling branded clothes, you can pick niche-specific tags such as sports, sports bra, and leggings.
- Use two of your branded hashtags – These are hashtags specific to your brand. It can be like #NikePH, #KylieSkin, or #FashionNova.
Strategy #3: Add Hashtags to Your Instagram Stories and Bio
Adding hashtags to your Instagram stories allows your content to be accessed by new audiences. However, to reach a new audience engagement will be an important factor, but it’s still a good way for you to strategically position your business.
You can also add hashtags to your bio. That way, you encourage people to share their experiences around your brand. The more they drive the conversation, the higher your chances of gaining a new audience. You can even run giveaways using the hashtag to keep people talking and curious about your brand.
Instagram hashtags are powerful tools for a business to utilize as they help businesses gain new audiences, increase engagement, and convert engagements to sales. So, if you want to increase sales, you need to use these hashtags. Just don’t forget to plan and research it first because a well-thought-out plan drives the best results.