Instagram is an excellent platform for building brand loyalty. You’re able to engage your customers in creative and visual ways that help define and promote your company’s identity. By using Instagram to its fullest extent and including well-researched hashtags in every post, you can attract new customers.
If you’re familiar with the way Twitter hashtags work, then there’s no difference here. In essence, hashtags are there to help categorize content and to make posts more easily discoverable by users. Depending on which hashtags you include with each Instagram post, your content will be seen by the right people — industry influencers, existing customers and potential leads. But what’s the right way to use hashtags and which ones do you pick to turn your feed into an ecommerce powerhouse?
First, let’s establish ground-level Instagram hashtag best practices:
1. Although Instagram allows you to include as many as 30 hashtags in every post, you shouldn’t use more than 3, maybe 5. You want your post to be locked in on your target audience, not appearing under hashtags that have little to do with you and your brand.
2. You should locate the accounts of influential people and companies in your industry to see which hashtags they’re using and how many posts have that hashtag. Then, you make a judgment call: Is there enough room under that hashtag’s umbrella for your brand or should you try something else? Generally, if industry celebrities or well-known experts frequently use a hashtag, you should consider including it in posts linking to your best marketing content. If a direct competitor is using it, be wary. You may end up appearing to mimic them.
3. Use extremely popular or general hashtags sparingly if at all. If you frequently use #love in your posts, then your content will be categorized with a ton of white noise. Always make sure your hashtags relate directly to what you’re doing and what your company or brand stands for.
To really set your Instagram identity apart and maximize the chance that your posts are empowering your ecommerce site, however, you’ll need to do a bit more legwork in selecting your hashtags.
We highly recommend that you use a service like Iconosquare that lets you see stats about each Instagram hashtag’s use and popularity. You can use the tool in the reverse, too — enter the Instagram handle of an influencer in your industry and see which hashtags they’ve used recently. Similarly to how you choose which SEO keyword to work into your next blog post by using Google AdWords Keyword Planner, use a tool like this to pick the right one: a keyword (or hashtag) that is popular enough to let your brand be seen by new people but isn’t so popular that you’ll be lost in the crowd.
Depending on your industry and your brand’s position therein, you may consider choosing a hashtag that you can own and make popular. A great example of a company doing this well was Nike during the World Cup in Brazil. With each inspiring photo they posted to Instagram during the event, they included just one hashtag: #justdoit. It’s simple, everyone knows the slogan, and they owned an entire category on Instagram for two months.
While it doesn’t rely on proprietary slogans, Whole Foods does well using hyper-specific hashtags that speak to their target audience. Some examples of hashtags the grocery store chain has used to great success are #glutenfree and #chia, as in #chia seeds, a trendy recipe ingredient among their target demographic.
If you follow these steps and keep honing in on the best hashtags for your intended audience, you will see improvements in clickthroughs and views of your Instagram posts. Then you can leverage an app that helps you convert new viewers.
While we’ve just gone over how to properly choose hashtags for your Instagram content, finding and publishing enough content on the platform can be a hassle in itself. Consider using a crowdsourcing service like CrowdSource that can rally a scalable group of vetted, US-based web researchers, writers and editors to aid in no time.
How do you pick the right hashtags for your business? We’d love to know!
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