The hashtag; a source of many a conversation around the social media marketing table.
It’s lost its relevance.
I am here to tell you that all these things have some truth to them, but like anything; balance is key.
Understanding the differences of each social platform, along with an in-depth understanding of your product or service and your buyer persona will be the key to ensuring a rock-solid social media strategy.
If you are a social media marketer and Instagram fanatic, then you are going to love what we have to share.
So let's get that Instagram strategy off the ground;
What the #hashtag?
So what is the hashtag and why is it even necessary?
The hashtag is used to categorise content on social media platforms. Although some social media platforms are more suited to an abundance of hashtags like Instagram and Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, both Facebook and LinkedIn make use of the hashtag; they just require you to understand how to make use of them on these platforms.
Facebook, for instance, hasn’t made use of the hashtag in over a year! EdgeRank did a study where they analysed around 500 pages with more than 35, 000 posts, only 6000 of those made use of the hashtag. So they dug a little deeper and found that there use did not have a positive impact on a brands level of engagement on the platform.
The Facebook algorithms continue to focus on posts with high-quality content than posts with hashtags.
Let’s dive into the different types of hashtags to understand the use and relevance of them as a part of your Instagram strategy (or Twitter);
Branded hashtags - These are specific to your company. They commonly will consist of your brand name or your product or service. These hashtags are great to use as they tie directly to your company.
Take a look at this post by BlindCraft;
You will notice the use of branded hashtags such as #BlindCraft and #UkuInbound these relate directly to the brand and help to build brand awareness and increase brand engagement.
Community Hashtags - These are more general and don’t necessarily have anything to do with your brand. They are widely used and searched for hashtags.
Take a look at this post by Sugarbird Gin;
They use more general hashtags like #travel and #adventure - Community hashtags like this may not be directly related to your product or service, but plays a role in making your content more discoverable and also helps to build out your audience.
A healthy balance of both branded and community hashtags will ensure that you are building brand awareness around your product or service, but you are also ensuring that your content reaches a wider audience. I am sure these are some of the kinds of things your Instagram strategy will be needing to achieve.
Why should you be using the hashtag on Instagram?
As hashtags categorise specific content, it is in your best interest to ensure that your content has the appropriate hashtags.
This will not only increase in likes and comments per post but also grow your following organically.
The use of appropriate and relevant hashtags will expose your content and brand to a much wider audience.
As mentioned already; hashtags are used to categorise content, if this is the way content is categorised, it means that this is how users will search for particular pieces of content and like me, I am sure you want the most appropriate eyes on your content.
How to find the best #hashtags for your Instagram strategy
So how do you go about using hashtags in your Instagram posts?
- You can use it within the caption part your Instagram post or at the end of your post.
- Do not include any punctuation or spaces. Otherwise, your hashtag will not be searchable and result in a not-so-good-looking social post.
Nope. I am kidding.
Make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to what your image or content is about. You risk losing followers by not doing this and can be seen as spammy.
Check out how Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake perfectly showcase the millennial use of the hashtag
3 Tools to help you find the right hashtags
Hashtagify - Is a free hashtag discovery tool for both Instagram and Twitter that allow you to find the best hashtags to reach your audience. This research process will also allow you to identify the influencers that are using these hashtags, making outreach just a little bit easier.
Keyhole - Is a real-time hashtag tracker for Instagram and Twitter. This hashtag tracking tool shows you the number of posts and that contain your branded hashtag, how many users are using it as well as each post’s reach and impressions. Keyhole runs a free trial period, after which you will need to sign up to one of the paid plans.
Instagram - Begin by typing the hashtag that you want to search for. It will autofill and give you a drop down of related hashtags as well as the number of times that hashtag is being used. You will notice that content marketing has a high number of uses, indicating this may be a good hashtag to include in your next post. This way of researching gives you a good idea of the popularity of a certain hashtag, but also provides you with insight into whether or not you will be able to rank for a particular hashtag.
Looking for Content Marketing Tools to try? Take a peak
One more thing...
How many hashtags should you be using in an Instagram post?
While Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags, this doesn’t mean you need to be using all of them.
So how do you work out how many will work for you?
Well to work this out requires some A/B testing.
Not too sure what A/B testing is? In this case, you will create two version of an Instagram post, one with a different number of hashtags to the other, you will then analyse their performance. The post that received the most engagement, reach and impressions will indicate which post performed better and what direction your Instagram strategy should take.
- At this stage, you will have already researched your competitors and worked out what hashtags they are using, but you will also need to work out “how many” both your competitors but also influencers are using. This will provide you with a starting point.
- You will then need to create some posts with a certain number of hashtags and track the engagement you receive on each post.
- Then post an image with a different amount of hashtags and track the kinds of engagement you receive per post.
- Then compare the results. The posts with the higher engagement rates will be the sweet spot that you want to aim for.
Still not too sure?
Not to worry, here are some stats to help you out;
As you can see the sweet spot seems to be around 11 hashtags, with a 79.5% interaction rate on a particular post. This is significantly more than an 18% interaction with zero hashtags.
My personal preference?
I like to play around with 20-25 hashtags.
As with anything in the digital marketing sphere; don’t be afraid to try and test new things, what may work for one brand may not work for the next, so try everything.
Instagram marketing trends for 2018 - are you on board?
Instagram is taking the B2C and B2B spaces by storm. To keep up, we need to be on top of the latest trends to devise a strategy that will take your Insta strategy to the next level.
So what are the predicted Instagram trends for 2018?
Boosting Your Instagram Posts - This is different to Instagram advertising, in that you can just “boost” a regular everyday type post, to increase your reach. As organic and profile growth continues to be a struggle, it will be important for you to begin implementing a paid strategy for some of your Insta posts.
So what are you waiting for?
It doesn’t cost too much to begin experimenting with the successes of post “boosting”.
Stories - The use of this feature in 2017 was an absolute success that quickly lead to 300 million daily active users!
Still not convinced that Instagram stories need to a part of your social media marketing strategy for 2018?
In March 2017 Instagram stories released an ad’s feature, this feature allows you to use targeting and reach to create the most relevant advert for your audience.
Here’s how it’s been working out;
Airbnb ran a series of 15-second video adverts in stories, the result? They saw a double-digit point increase in advert recall!
This is a significant return on using the Instagram stories ad feature.
Micro-Influencers - Influencer marketing, a strategy many marketers are familiar with, but finding micro-influencers to partner with is where it’s at for 2018.
Do not underestimate the power of a smaller insta profile.
Loosely defined as having anywhere between 1000 - 10 000 followers, according to research by Later many brands are having success with the smaller but more engaged audience of the micro-influencers.
So what are you waiting for? Give it a bash!
You can find a few more of 2018’s predicted trends with Later.
We have touched on the basics of the hashtag and what they mean for your social media marketing efforts.
At this point, you should be considering your brand and its overall objectives. In line with that, you will need to consider what you want to achieve with an Instagram strategy. Once you are clear on your goals, you need to begin your hashtag research, an often underestimated activity, that drives engagement and organic reach. Don’t slack on your research, it takes a bit of time, but it will be worth it.
Start posting yo!
A/B test all the way.
Play with different times, a different amount of hashtags per post, and research new and trending hashtags every couple of weeks. Your Insta success will need you to stay on point.
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