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Your Complete Guide to Instagram Hashtags

person using instagramInstagram hashtags are considered as one of the driving forces behind today’s successful social media campaigns. On the surface, hashtags may not seem to do much, but using them is essential in mastering Instagram for your business. So whether you’re just starting out or have been using them for a while now, here’s everything you need to know about Instagram hashtags and how to maximize them.

What Do Instagram Hashtags Actually Do?

With the constant changes in Instagram’s algorithm, it’s easy to get lost among brands and advertisers. To step up your game, you can add strategic hashtags to your posts. These tags categorize posts so people can discover new content and brands can gain a wider reach. These create a common link to a collection of other posts that are tagged with the same word.

Hashtags can be used in almost all parts of your Instagram profile – captions, comments, the bio, Instagram Stories, and IGTV. When working on hashtags, it’s important to have a clear strategy and to keep your marketing objectives in mind, as these will help determine which specific hashtags to use.

Why Do You Need Hashtags?

Though they may have started just as a trend, hashtags now play an impactful role in driving conversions and business results. They’re important in making content easier to find, expanding reach and encouraging audience engagement, and keeping you updated on topics and trends.

Hashtags help optimize your content as they’re the SEO of Instagram. These put your posts in a pool of similar content that makes them more discoverable. People can more easily learn of your content when they search for specific hashtags or when they tap through related posts for a particular tag. Using relevant tags raises awareness about your business and increases the opportunities of your posts getting more exposure.

Hashtags help you gain more traction, expand your following, and reach a targeted audience. Not only will people find your posts, but they’ll be more likely to engage because these are exactly what they wanted or are related to what they’re looking for. They spark communication and encourage interactions with customers, which is why posts with hashtags get 12.6% more engagement than those without.

Conversations on hot topics, important news, and current fads often get spread with hashtags. Whether you’re focused on learning about your target audience or fellow brands, hashtags help you know about what people are talking about on the platform. They update you on what your competitors are doing, what people say about your brand, or what trends you can join in on.

All of these things will enable you to be present and relevant on the channel.

What Should You Look For In Effective Instagram Hashtags?

Though there are a lot of ways to use hashtags to promote your business, it’s important to remain consistent with your brand’s voice and your audiences’ interests. Even if you want to go bold and creative with your hashtags, these should still be related to your posts to remain effective. Here’s what you should look for:

General Hashtags

Trending hashtags generate the most views, likes, and searches. They’re usually about breaking news and hot topics that users can’t stop talking about, so it’s essential to find ways to relate these trends to your brand and to join in on the conversations.

Time-sensitive hashtags about the holidays, seasons, or on-going events also get a lot of attention. Adding these to your posts will be an opportunity to showcase your brand personality, get your name known, gain more engagements, and garner new followers and potential customers.

Make sure you go through a list of most-liked and top hashtags to get more ideas on general hashtags. 

Industry-Specific Hashtags

Effective tags relate directly to the target audience. These are not as popular as the general hashtags, so you won’t get lost in the shuffle. However, they are specific enough that you reach your niche market and those who are intentionally looking for your content.

For example, if you’re a travel company, you’ll want to reach people who are specifically looking for guides rather than just travel pics in general. So you can use #TravelGuide instead of #Travel, which has more than 450 million posts.

instagram hashtags

instagram hashtags results

Brand-Specific Hashtags

These promote your business, encourage user-generated content, increase awareness, and grow your brand identity. Keep it short and sweet so people can easily use or remember your branded tags. These can be as simple as your brand name, brand tagline, or variations of product names.

Take Nike for example. They use the iconic slogan #JustDoIt in their posts.

nike instagram post

Instagram Hashtag Best Practices

Now it’s time to plan and strategize on how to properly use hashtags to stay effective and relevant. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Do Your Research

Know what your audience is talking about so you can ensure that your hashtags are aligned with their interests. See what your competitors are doing and check what brands that have similar target audiences as yours are talking about. This will help you understand what’s current and trending.

Get inspiration from Instagram influencers in your space. Follow trendy industry-specific hashtags or participate in community-related tags that your market is likely following.

2. Don’t Over Hashtag

One of the social media mistakes to avoid is using too many hashtags. Even if you can use up to 30 hashtags, it’s best to know your magic number and use only the effective ones.

To help identify what to include, you can follow this secret hashtag recipe:

  • Three to five popular hashtags with 300,000 to one million posts
  • Another three to five moderately popular hashtags with 80,000 to 300,000 posts
  • Three to five industry or niche-specific hashtags
  • One to two brand-specific hashtags

Also, ensure that your hashtags are related to your content. Just like captions, these must match the photo or video you’re posting.

3. Organize Your Hashtags

Create an efficient hashtag system for your business. This should help you keep track of which hashtags to use, how often to use them, and which ones are included in your popular posts. Essentially, this will help you decide which ones work for your brand and give you the best results.

eClincher remembers your hashtags and will provide analytics reflecting how much engagement they’re bringing you.

4. Narrow Your Hashtags

Specific hashtags are better for your brand, as you get to compete in a smaller pool for posts. Zoom in on a topic or theme for your hashtags as the more niche they are, the more conversations you spark from relevant audiences. Keep them close to the identity of your brand and specific to your market.

5. Use Instagram Hashtags to Connect

Using hashtags lets you connect with people and build a community around your brand. It helps improve Instagram engagement when you use them in call-to-action promos or in spreading the word about your campaigns.

It’s also a great way to discover new partners and engage with your market. It grows your brand reach and gives you exposure to a larger audience. Get both parties’ audience involved when you build a giveaway contest around a branded hashtag as this will encourage people to share user-generated content while you promote your marketing campaigns.

Check out The Bucket List Family and Southwest Airlines’ #BeachesSocialSweepstakes giveaway campaign:

giveaway instagram hashtags

Follow your own hashtags to find people who are talking about your brand so you can connect with them. This way, you can interact and develop better relationships with your followers and potential customers.

6. Vary Instagram Hashtags Across Content

Play around and add some variation to your hashtags to increase the chances of reaching new people. Re-use the same well-researched and highly impactful hashtags if they reach your intended market, but also add in a few new ones that are related to your new posts. Remember: It pays to be relevant and experimental in social media.

7. Create Your Own Hashtag Campaigns

Get creative and build a campaign around your branded hashtags. This will get followers to want to use your tags while you spread awareness about your business. They have to be catchy, witty, and memorable – something that will automatically make people think about your brand.

Successfully branded hashtags are those that can be applied to any post. But these are also useful when promoting a new product, a special launch, or an upcoming event, or simply when inspiring people.

Covergirl uses their branded hashtags in their posts and encourages people to use them. Anyone who sees content with these hashtags – #COVERGIRLCrueltyFree, #COVERGIRLMade, #EasyBreezyBeautiful – can immediately recognize their brand.

covergirl instagram page8. Know Where You Stand

As in all marketing efforts, you need to check the metrics of your hashtags to ensure that you’re using the ones that will bring the most eyes to your posts.

Experiment on related hashtags and learn about the competition behind that tags you’re already using.  Test out the less frequently used or less competitive hashtags to see how they perform with your content. Analyze your competition to know what works and what doesn’t for them so you can improve your strategies.

9. Use The Right Tools

All these things may be hard work, but using a powerful and efficient tool like eClincher will ease up the process.

We can help determine which hashtags work best for your posts. Additionally, we can measure all-important hashtag metrics, from traffic to engagement to competitor data, and help you analyze the performance of each so you’ll have a better grasp of which ones to use. We monitor what’s happening on social media so you’re always one step ahead. Our social media inbox automatically collects data from hashtags so you can engage with your community and track how these are used. Essentially, eClincher is your best guide to improve your hashtag strategies.

Hashtags are indeed important to Instagram success. These help you reach more people, grow your audience, get more engagement, build a community, and so much more. With these tips and strategies, you’re on your way to growing your business on the platform.

If you need more help with your hashtagging plans and other social media management concerns, eClincher is here to help you. Contact us and start your free trial today.