Hashtag is essential to your Instagram marketing strategy. It helps your branding and allows customers to find you. Instagram users search hashtags for visual results. Each click contributes to your reach and hopefully to a follow or profit. In this article, we are sharing some insights on Instagram hashtag strategy that will increase your reach and engagement. We will break down the hashtags into 4 categories: the popular, the geographic, the long-tailed and the branded.

Before we start, we want to talk about Facebook. It is a powerful tool to build your online business, but you have to understand the strategic difference when you’re marketing on Facebook and Instagram. When you link your accounts, you can publish your post across the two platforms in a click. Kill two birds with one stone, right? Not exactly.

First, you should write different caption for different platforms because your audience and their behaviours are different. Second, think about your hashtag visibility. Let’s say you put 15 hashtags at the bottom of your post, which is fine for Instagram. On Facebook, however, it’s a bit difficult to read and spammy. Third, hashtag is really not a thing on Facebook. It’s more like a font format or highlighter to your text body. Facebook users never search hashtags for content, so placing a lot of them in your post is ineffective.

Use Hashtags for you Instagram Brand Strategy

Think about some keyword that best describe your business. These keywords are the popular hashtags that you should use to define our brand. It doesn’t mean something like #travel or #coffee. It’s too vague and overused. What you should do is to find 2-3 popular hashtags that echo with your content. Instead of #travel, go with #travelphotography; don’t use #coffee, but use #coffeeaddict. These hashtags won’t bring much traffic (because they’re still big words), but it’s sharper to present your brand personality.

There are some hashtags you should avoid. Usually, the banned hashtags contain inappropriate context or are frequently used by bots. Placing these hashtags in your post might cause a negative impact on your appearance.

Reach out to Locals with Geographic Hashtags

Sometimes, your customer is next door to you. You (they) just don’t know yet! That’s why you should always include geographic hashtags. Using alternative geo tag is a good way to boost reach. It’s fine to use #dublin but #dubilncity will give you more exposures. Try to combine a location with your service such as #dublinfoodie, so you’re approachable to interested locals. To be more specific, add some community hashtags to your caption, i.e. #citywest or #dublin2. You’ll notice that a lot of people in your neighbourhood aren’t aware of your existence.

Do a Keyword Research to Optimise Your Instagram Hashtags Strategy

Next, it’s the fun part. If you’re familiar with SEO, you know it’s essential to find the keywords that leads to your website traffic. Same thing on placing Instagram hashtags. Think as your customers. What long-tailed keywords would you Google your business? To start, check out how your competitors use hashtags, and explore popular hashtags among your users (see what hashtags they follow!) Then, think of some alternatives – start with spelling and synonym – and repeat your process until you have a handful hashtags to choose from. Make sure to include different sizes of hashtags, but don’t get too vague or specific. In general, we find that somewhere between 50k-500k is good.

Pro Tips: Create a couple lists of hashtags for different types of posts. Update your lists frequently.

Create a Branding Campaign with Instagram Hashtags

The last category is branded hashtags. Your company name, current campaign or project etc. Include them in your post and make adjustment for different context. It’s a good idea to ask your followers to use your branded hashtags. Always engage with your audience and share their post to your page – user-generated content boosts your Instagram reach. Check out how we create a university branded hashtag campaign and collect more than 100 posts within 5 days.

You can also use long-tailed hashtags to brand yourself. Let’s say your coffee shop uses fair-trade coffee beans. Place #fairtradecoffee in your post to set the distinction from your competitors.

Pro Tips: Placing a branded or long-tailed hashtag in your bio will allows your profile visitor to know your better.

How Many Hashtags Should You Use in Your Instagram Post?

Now you know what kinds of hashtags help growing your Instagram presence. The next question is: how many should you use? If you search it on Google, you will get all different answers. Some says 5, some says 10, others say use them all (30). What is the standard? The answer is there is: it depends. The number of hashtags used depends on your content and brand personality. Try different combinations to find your sweet spot. Check out this blog on how to generate marketing insights from your social media data.

You may wonder: what if I place my hashtags in the first comment to tide up the space? There’s no clear relation between increasing reach and putting hashtags in comment section. If doing this helps benefit your business, go for it. Too lazy? Totally fine.

Lastly, a friendly reminder: hashtags are just a tool for reaching more users. The main thing is to constantly create strategic content and engage with your audience. Users anticipate information when they click on your image. Provide value to your target audience; otherwise, your traffic will mean nothing.

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