How to use Hashtags and Which Ones to Use
Let’s talk about hashtags. We all know by now that the name of the game on Instagram these days is engagement so let’s beef up one strategy that can help your posts be seen and engaged with: hashtags.
The truth is if you’re blindly using them right now or playing a guessing game each time you’re likely not getting that boost of engagement necessary to show up in the feeds of your customers and attract new ones to your account. So what do you say we crack the code on how to use hashtags for your business?
HASHTAGS HELP CUT THROUGH ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA NOISE
So what is this # and how do you use it (and get results from it?) Hashtags allow you to categorize and label your images so that they show up in searches enabling you to connect with other content (and people) within a category.
When someone searches a hashtag, it has its own feed or gallery of sorts and you can scroll through all of the images that the hashtag is used. Think of Instagram as a giant filing cabinet and a hashtag is a file folder, when you tag it using the pound symbol, you’re filing that post into that category so not only you show up in that category, but so that others can seek you out and find you there.
One of the most valuable ways we can use hashtags for our businesses is to help cut out the noise and join in conversations that matter to us, our business, and to connect us to the right people.
Identifying the right hashtags that will align your brand and content with the exact right audience looking for it is our goal and objective with using hashtags.
USING HASHTAGS INTENTIONALLY
Who is it you’re trying to reach and what terms, phrases, or locations would they be searching for?
One easy way to start thinking of this is by using location-specific hashtags to connect with others near you. You can do this by using local hashtags to reach people in your community or industry-specific hashtags that will connect you with like-minded entrepreneurs.
Now that you know hashtags are important, it’s also important to note that the way you use them also plays a role in the game of engagement. Hashtags can be a huge turnoff if you are spamming each post with a bunch of hashtags that have absolutely nothing to do with what it is you are talking about or if you’re clearly trying to hop on trending hashtags that don’t relate to your content — which is also silly, because it’s not connecting you with the right people anyways!
WHERE TO BEGIN: DO YOUR RESEARCH
Brainstorm ideas and topics that apply to your business and enter those ideas as a hashtag into Instagram. What is your business about? Where is your business serving clients? What does your brand signify? List these ideas and topics that apply to your business and enter those ideas as a hashtag into the search field within Instagram. Instagram will then give you 5 related tags which will start to generate new additional hashtag ideas for you!
How else can you research hashtags? Look at other businesses and see what hashtags they are using. Scroll through their list and pull a few that might work for you and test them out. Click on ones that make you want to take action and see if that tag holds contents that would be on brand with you.
Make sure to pay attention to the number of people who have used the hashtags and prioritize them by popularity to reach the RIGHT people, not just the most. Remember, you have a better chance of standing out if you use a specific hashtag with less posts that’s more pertinent to your actually dream audience than placing your content on a hashtag that is being inundated with new content every minute where your post will get easily lost.
Another place to look for hashtags to use is to check the profiles of those that are already engaging with your content. More specifically, the type of person you want to work more with. Check out what hashtags they are using and grab some that might make sense for your list and connect you to others like them! If they are using and engaging with the hashtags, you want your content to show up there.
HOW I HASHTAG MY POSTS TO YIELD RESULTS
When I was figuring out my hashtag strategy I asked myself the questions above and then developed a strategy that would get my posts in front of a local audience.
Broad hashtags I use: #northcarolina #nc #visitnc #ourstate
While my photos had a chance to get buried, it also had a chance to stand out and so I would use those broader categories to reach a broader audience.
Narrow hashtags I use: #Durham #DurhamNC #bestofthebull #bullcity #durm
These tags are much more specific to our market! These tags change with each post based on the location of the photo. These tags likely connected me with people who might actually become my followers!
Here’s a list of the hashtags I use regularly:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MIX IT UP!
A strategy I use is to use a mix of both popular hashtags that a lot of people are browsing to get my content in front of a larger audience and more targeted less popular ones that will more likely ensure that my content is going to be placed in the “top” section of that hashtag and viewed by all of the people searching for it.
Pay attention to the number of people who have used the hashtags and prioritize them by popularity or how targeted they are to cast your net wide among both popular hashtags and smaller, more targeted ones. The beauty about being able to use up to 30 in a post means you don’t have to pick one or the other, you can show up in all the places and see which yields the greater results for your efforts!
Using a variety of hashtags is key to stay relevant and effective in your hashtag strategy. You’ll want to be consistent and use those branded hashtags and ones that are core to your mission (old), but also mix in new trending topics and conversations happening today (new). It’s important to keep continuity with your branding while staying fresh and assessing your hashtag strategy on a regular basis to maintain the interest of your followers as well as attract new ones.
BEFORE YOU POST ANOTHER HASHTAG, ASK THESE 3 QUESTIONS FIRST
So now that you’ve got an idea of what hashtags to use in your business, how do you know which ones to use and when? Before you post, ask yourself these three things:
1.) What is the main goal/objective of this post? (Ex: Do I want potential customers to find me and see it? Am I contributing to a broader conversation about a trending topic?)
2.) What categories does this image fall under? (Ex: Is it in a specific geographic area? Does it feature any brands or companies? What would people type in to find it?)
3.) Do I have time to be intentional with hashtags? (Ex: Am I willing to seek out and type in specific hashtags for this post or should I fall back on a past list for speed/efficiency!)
Hashtags can be a great way to attract your ideal clients, connect you to other creatives, and an intentional way to brand your business. Use them thoughtfully, sparingly and do your research for the best results. So tell me, what hashtags are you using currently in your business?
Did you know instead of typing out a series of hashtags every time you share an image on Instagram, you can save them as a shortcut that will allow you to insert a series of hashtags by typing one simple word? Here’s a hack that will save you time and frustration and help place your images on hashtags where more followers can find you!
ON AN IPHONE: GO INTO SETTINGS > GENERAL > KEYBOARD > SHORTCUTS > +> TYPE THE SERIES OF HASHTAGS INTO THE “PHRASE”>
NAME THE SHORTCUT > VOILA!
Every time you type in the shortcut word, the series of hashtags will appear! Remember to put them in a comment below your caption and use tags that will fit your brand, expand your reach, and help connect you with the right followers!