Do you recall the good old days when your student self had to make a trip down to the library to search for books for your essays and thesis? Do you recall the sense of exasperation you’ve felt when you realise that the library is a few storeys high, spans across vast space and finding a relevant book is similar to finding a needle in a haystack?
Well, you’ve probably not experienced the latter because our dear librarians labelled all the bookshelves concisely. Common sense tells us that instead of looking through every single book in the library to find materials for our essay, a better algorithm would be to look for the shelf label that marks out shelves that hold relevant documents for your article.
Given the gargantuan amount of content on Instagram, a similar system of labelling is incontestably required to bring suitable material onto users’ Instagram feed and Explore page. In the context of Instagram, labelling your content increases the likelihood of your content being recommended to users who have similar interests. While there are many other ways to mark your content, the easiest way is through the use of hashtags (#). It may seem incredulous that a seemingly innocuous-looking sign can possess tremendous influence over your marketing strategy, but that’s the hard truth. A post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without hashtags. And that’s what we are going to talk about today.
Be Aware of the Top Instagram Hashtags
Labeling does not necessarily translate to increased engagement rates. For obvious reasons, there is no point in labeling your content with something no one will ever search for. Hence, it is essential for you to know the top Instagram Hashtags, for your content to even stand a chance of appearing on users’ feed and explore page.
|Top Instagram Hashtags of All-Time|
It may be tempting to always use to top Instagram hashtag on your content, but do note that it’s not necessarily the best move. After all, at the time of writing, #love has 1,848,975,060 posts. I sincerely doubt that users will scroll through the list religiously just because it’s the top hashtag and the chances of your post appearing at the top of the list are pretty slim too.
The trick is to choose hashtags that have a smaller but still, sizeable following. You might be wondering to yourself now, how on earth are you supposed to do that. Well, you’re in luck! One of the most foolproof tricks is to be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of #love, you might want to use #love<insert object>.
Always keep in mind that trending hashtags can vary depending on a multitude of factors (say, location, events, etc.). Episodes such as a comeback of a K-Pop group, George Floyd’s death, Trump’s Tulsa Rally, etc. can easily change trending hashtags. The best way to ensure that your hashtags are not obsolete is to be kept abreast of current affairs and movements.
1. Create a Branded Hashtag
Some of you who have had a hand in digital marketing on Instagram would have realised that choosing a hashtag relevant to your brand is as simple as ABC (so long as you know your brand well enough). The tough part is making your brand conspicuous amongst the 1.0 10999posts in the community.
If you aren’t confident that your brand will be able to stand out in any of the hashtag’s community, perhaps you might want to try creating a branded hashtag. A branded hashtag should be unique to your brand and ideally, capable of showcasing your brand’s identity. It can be challenging to create a branded hashtag that impactfully describes your brand identity. This article is here to help!
For a branded hashtag to be well-recognised, it should be short and witty.
Short and Simple
The rationale behind a short and simple branded hashtag is clear. It reduces the chances of users misspelling it or forgetting it. Make it so short and simple such that even your laziest followers are hardworking enough to actually type it out.
Make it Funny or Witty
We all love a good dose of humour. If your hashtag or the content it encourages is witty and funny, it’ll provide your users with another incentive for following your branded hashtag – humour.
Nest’s #CaughtOnDropCam (they called for users to share hilarious clips caught on their DropCam) is a classic example of how branded hashtags can be a great source of humour and eventually, followers. While the campaign was on Twitter, it is applicable to creating brilliant branded hashtags on Instagram too.
When coming up with a branded hashtag, do be sensitive to its spelling. You wouldn’t want this to happen to your brand.
2. Use Campaign Hashtags
Now that you’ve got your own brand hashtag, it’s time to make it famous by using campaign hashtags!
The thing that differentiates campaign hashtags from a typical hashtag is that you’ll have control over the conversation and content submitted by users. This diminishes the possibility of your brand getting linked to unfavourable content since the campaign hashtag will be dominated by your brand.
Campaign hashtags generate buzz around your brand, and the best deal of it all is that it creates content! You won’t have to rack your brains to come up with content to engage your users (heh), for your users will be the ones working hard to create content for your brand (for once, their minds will be filled with your brand).
Do’s and Don’t’s of Campaign Hashtags
DO Spur Them into Action
- Give users a reason to be part of your campaign. You can do so by campaigning for a worthy cause that people will feel for. Endorsing movements like BlackLivesMatter and Climate Change can help improve your brand image. However, do not jump onto the bandwagon and subscribe to campaigns just for its popularity. The masses are not idiots, they can sense whether a brand is sincere about their support for a movement or a brand is doing so for profits.
- Alternatively, be generous conduct giveaways offering attractive prizes. Giveaways are an excellent way to increase your brand’s presence by asking participants to share your post and allows customers to try your products or services before committing to them.
DO Promote Your Brand Cross Media
- Although this article’s primary focus is on Instagram marketing, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to Instagram only. Different social media platforms target different groups of people, but there are bound to be overlaps between them. For example, starting a campaign on Instagram and calling for action on Facebook means that the youths on Instagram will help boost your engagement rate of Facebook, which in turns help you climb up the popularity chart on Facebook, reaching out to the users of Facebook (which are very different from Instagram).
DO Your Research
- Unless it’s your life-long goal to embarrass your brand, be sure to do your research on the market you’re targeting. Your predecessors have made some rather cringe-worthy mistakes when marketing in countries with unfamiliar cultures and here’s one to make your day.
DON’T Be Insensitive
- Today, people are increasingly interested in the values and beliefs brands stand for and will not hesitate to boycott any brands on moral grounds. If you do not want your brand to be ‘cancelled’, think before you post.
3. Avoid (Previously) Banned Hashtags
Regardless of which hashtag you set your eyes on eventually, it’s essential to check if the hashtag is frequently used by spammers, people and values you would not want your brand to be associated with. The banned list changes from time to time, so do remember to check it regularly!
While hashtags like #like4like are not banned, such shameless solicitation for likes and follows attracts bots and spammers rather than people who are genuinely interested in your content. This means that while your likes and followers count may inflate, it does not necessarily translate to increased sales and gives your brand a poor brand image, defeating the purpose of marketing.
4. Do not Overuse Your Hashtag
Now that you’ve got an established hashtag, it may be tempting to use that hashtag in every single post of yours. You ought to be proud of your brand’s hashtag, but be wary of overusing it (especially if you post almost every second), as Instagram may label you and your hashtag as a potential spam material.
5. Monitor Your Instagram Hashtag Analytics
As mentioned previously, the popularity of hashtags can be seasonal and is everchanging. The list of trending hashtags on marketing blogs can be outdated a few days later or might not even be applicable to your brand, and hence, it shouldn’t be your primary source of information.
If you have a business or creator account on Instagram, simply tap on “View Insights” below any of your posts. Instagram provides basic statistics like impression from hashtags, which tells you how many users saw your post due to hashtags. For a more detailed analysis of your hashtags, you’ll have to commit to paid analytics tools. These tools give you more insightful data, such as a breakdown of the hashtags driving the most likes, comments, impressions, saves, and reach on your posts.
No matter which strategy you decide to adopt in the end, you must keep the critical goals of hashtagging in your mind. Hashtags are meant to label and categorise content, and they bring you closer to users who are more likely to be interested in your products. With this in mind, do share with us some of the ways you’ve found most useful for social media marketing!