Hashtags Will Multiply Your Audience: 9 Ways to Make Them Work
Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have a 12.6% higher engagement rate than those without hashtags. Not surprisingly, a recent study also showed that posts that contain up to 11 hashtags generate an engagement rate of up to 70% per 1K followers.
For most businesses, engagement rates of between 6% to 8% are considered excellent. Therefore, using hashtags is a no brainer if you want more likes, shares, and comments from your audience.
With the right strategy, hashtags can be a simple and zero-cost method of raising engagement and brand awareness.
So, what are hashtags, and how do you use them?
What Is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are a combination of letters, numbers, emoji or other symbols that are always preceded by the # symbol. Most hashtags are words or phrases created by an individual or business to facilitate discussions on a current issue or event or to spread information about a product or service.
The very first hashtag, #barcamp, was created by Chris Messina, a social technology expert, and posted on Twitter in 2007. The aim was to use the hashtag to facilitate online discussions for a global technology conference.
Hashtags have since taken on a life of their own and wholly revolutionized social media. Today, millions of people create and use hashtags every day.
How Do Hashtags Work?
Hashtags are to social media what keywords are to search engines; they allow users to search for content they are interested in. Businesses also rely on hashtags to spread product information to target audiences.
Hashtags work by categorizing and organizing video and photo content by topic. If you click on any hashtag, you will be directed to a results page that displays every discussion on that subject.
As a new feature, you can now follow hashtags on Instagram; this allows you to view content posted under your selected hashtag in your Instagram feed.
Why You Should Use Hashtags
·Increased reach: Hashtags raise the viewership of your content by making it more discoverable by new audiences.
More followers: Hashtags help you find new audiences beyond your current followers and friends.
Brand awareness: Hashtags allow you to engage target audiences and participate in conversations that build brand visibility.
Higher engagement: By raising exposure and bringing target audiences together, hashtags can effectively boost your engagement rate.
Better leads: Hashtags let you participate in conversations with interested consumers, which generates better leads and more conversions.
Social listening: Hashtags allow you to read conversations by target audiences and gain valuable information about their needs, frustrations, and expectations.
Track competitors: Hashtags let you monitor your competitors’ conversations and the type of audiences they are targeting.
The Best Tips for Using Hashtags on Instagram
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. The question is, how do you find the right hashtags, and how many should you use?
The truth is, without an efficient strategy, hashtags can be just another spammy practice that posts your content to the wrong audiences.
Secondly, it’s one thing to use hashtags for the fun of it, and an entirely different matter knowing how to engage and grow your audience with them.
Here are 9 top tips on how to use Instagram hashtags to drive more conversions:
#1 Research Your Hashtags
If you own a bakery in San Diego, #SanDiegoBakery is excellent, right? Not exactly!
Knowing which hashtags work, and which ones don’t, takes a little research.
For a start, use Instagram search to find hashtags related to your niche. Check what content is posted and how engaged audiences are under that hashtag. How active is the audience and how many of your competitors are also participating?
Before creating a hashtag of your own, or posting under an existing one, take a little time to find out what conversations your target audience is interested in.
#2 Add Clickable Hashtags to Your Bio
A recent Instagram upgrade now allows users to add clickable hashtags and usernames to their bio. This makes your branded hashtags more visible to your followers since they won’t have to check your posts to find them.
Adding a # or @ makes the link clickable. Your branded hashtags, or hashtags related to your product, will, therefore, be better highlighted to your audiences.
#3 Learn from Influencers
Influencers are respected and admired by users as experts in their niche. They tend to be trendsetters who consistently engage audiences within their niche.
By looking through their social media posts, you can track the hashtags influencers are using and the conversations they are taking part in.
This gives you an idea of which hashtags to use, how to use them, and what conversations are creating the most engagement.
#4 Add Your Location
As mentioned earlier, hashtags are like keywords. The more specific they are, the more likely you are to reach high-quality audiences. Geolocation is becoming ever more critical to search and social media as audiences shop on the go from mobile devices.
When you use a general or overly broad hashtag such as #food, you will reach too wide an audience and get lost in the crowd. Someone looking for organic food, a medspa, movie, or a vet, will prefer a business that is as close to home as possible.
Add your location to your hashtag to let your audience know where to find you.
#5 Make Hashtags Memorable
Your audience wants hashtags they can easily remember when searching for your product. Work with short, memorable hashtags such as #LAdogfood rather than #buyladogfoodnow.
Create hashtags with your audience in mind; how do they search for products online? Will users with short attention spans remember my hashtag?
Make your hashtag funny, or even naughty to grab attention.
#6 Use 4 to 7 Hashtags
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. However, using too many hashtags makes your content look spammy and may defeat your marketing efforts.
There is no hard rule for the number of hashtags you can use. However, four to seven hashtags should give you enough exposure to audiences while maintaining relevance.
Every few weeks, don’t be afraid to change hashtags if you are not getting expected results.
#7 Engage with Hashtags
Hashtags are not just for promoting your products and services. You can create hashtags to start a conversation with your followers.
Use a hashtag to invite your audience to post content or share experiences connected to your product, and you will raise engagement or even trend the hashtag.
Audiences love exciting topics they can relate to and offer an opinion. Give them a voice through your hashtags, and your hashtag might go viral.
#8 Describe Your Product with Hashtags
Your audience should be able to tell what your product is all about just by looking at your hashtag. Otherwise, they won’t bother to click or follow it.
On Instagram, use your hashtags to describe your products and services.
Hashtags that detail your product or service, such as #meatfreeburgers or #organicpetfood, are easily recognizable to audiences and will generate the best engagement.
#9 How NOT to Use Hashtags
Do not use irrelevant hashtags
Do not use complicated hashtags
Don’t use too many hashtags
Don’t use over-popular hashtags
Don’t copy your competitors’ hashtags
Don’t use hashtags that contain other brand names
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