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2916 11 1
SEO 11 min read January 22, 2019

How Instagram Hashtag Tactics Can Help You Improve Customer Engagement

How Instagram Hashtag Tactics Can Help You Improve Customer Engagement

Gaurav Sharma
Co-founder of Attrock
When Chris Messina used the first hashtag on Twitter in August 2007, he was ridiculed by many. However, some of his friends started using them too, thereby popularizing the trend. In 2009, Twitter decided to hyperlink hashtags. Soon other social media platforms followed suit.
Instagram, our favorite photo-sharing app, took the plunge and introduced hashtags in 2011. Since then, individuals and brands have leveraged them to build awareness and to get discovered by more people.

It's true that stuffing your photo captions with too many irrelevant hashtags can annoy your viewers. However, if used judiciously, Instagram hashtags can boost the reach of your posts tremendously.

In December 2017, Instagram introduced a new feature, whereby users can now follow hashtags. With more than 1 billion monthly active users, this popular social media network offers immense scope for brand building. If you haven't tapped into the potential of Instagram hashtags yet, you might need to rethink your social media marketing strategy.

Why use Instagram hashtags?

According to the research, the engagement rates start to drop if you use more than 10 hashtags on an Instagram post. However, hashtags can certainly enhance the audience's engagement with your posts. And they give you the opportunity to widen your network by increasing the visibility of your posts.
By carefully selecting and using the right hashtags in your Instagram posts, you can stir up a conversation about your brand. This helps you maintain continual interaction with your existing followers. It also helps you grab the attention of a larger audience, many of whom might be your potential customers.

By now, you should understand why Instagram hashtags are a powerful marketing tool. Now, let's take a look at some strategies to help you use this tool effectively for your business.

      Identify the right hashtags

      This is the first and the most crucial step of your Instagram marketing strategy. In the simplest of terms, hashtags are the social media equivalent of keywords used in SEO. Carefully selected hashtags allow you to reach out to your target audience. Generic and irrelevant hashtags won't yield any results.

          Use relevant and specific hashtags

          An SEO specialist digs deep and identifies the right keywords for a particular piece of content. Similarly, you need to handpick the hashtags that are relevant to your products or services.

          Identify the most popular hashtags in your niche and incorporate them into your posts. Keep an eye on the hashtags that are being used by your competitors. Avoid using generic hashtags as these are usually flooded with an insurmountable number of posts.

          For example, rule out common terms such as #photographer, #photography, #travel etc. Instead, you can use #travelphotography, #landscapephotographer, #wildlifephotography and #naturephotography. A leading nature and travel brand posts photos taken by their photographers with such specific hashtags.

          Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million social media posts to see what triggered users into sharing content. Extended text and powerful images along with emotions were the triggers. It seems that sharing implies trust. If you create content that people want to share, it's a definite vote of confidence in your product.

                Craft your own hashtag

                Utilizing the existing pool of Instagram hashtags can be fruitful in most cases. However, in order to drive greater customer engagement, you must also brainstorm and create a unique hashtag for your brand. This can be very useful in grabbing the attention of your Instagram followers.

                While crafting a hashtag for your brand, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
                      1
                      It needs to be unique to your brand. If similar hashtags already exist on the platform, yours will fail to make a mark.
                      2
                      It needs to align with your brand's image. Make sure it is in sync with the message that you send out in your marketing campaigns.
                      3
                      Keep it short and easy to read. Test the hashtag with a smaller group of people before taking it to your Instagram audience.
                      4
                      Introduce variety. In the rapidly changing world of social media, trends die just as quickly as they grow. Therefore, you should tweak your hashtag from time to time, keeping your audience and potential customers constantly engaged.
                      5
                      Request that your customers share reviews of your products or services with the hashtag. This step is crucial in popularizing the hashtag you have just created.
                      A classic example of this is the #mybreak and #HaveAbreak hashtags used by a popular chocolate brand. They echo the overall branding message of the company as well. The brand's social media team encourages customers to use these hashtags in their Instagram posts. They re-post these images on their Instagram page as well.
                            This technique helps them engage with their existing customers. At the same time, it propagates the brand to a much larger audience that includes many potential customers.

                                  Captions matter

                                  How often have you come across an Instagram post with a caption that is flooded with irrelevant and absurd hashtags? Instead of attracting more followers, this can drive away your traffic.

                                  As a marketer or business owner, you must avoid this practice by all means. Even though Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags with each post, limit your usage to 15-20.

                                  While Instagram has never revealed how its algorithm works, you can use captions and hashtags to your advantage. According to a survey, 30% of people put hashtags in comments while the rest put them in their captions. 70% of respondents even stated that they got more engagement when hashtags were in the captions.

                                  However, if you want to keep your caption clean, you can write it without hashtags. Immediately after the post is published, add relevant hashtags in a comment. This ensures that the appearance of your post remains neat.

                                        Contest alert

                                        Once you have crafted a unique hashtag for your brand, the next step is to keep it alive in public memory. This can be effectively done by creating contests for your customers from time to time.

                                        Motivate them to post photographs or messages with your brand's hashtag, in exchange for some incentives. The incentive could be in the form of a feature on your Instagram page or other material rewards.

                                        This is a great way to create a buzz about your brand. It helps you re-engage your existing customers. In addition, if the contest goes viral, it can take your brand to a massive, wide pool of potential customers.

                                        For instance, a popular software company gives their users a chance to get featured on its Instagram page. They have over 800,000 followers, so that is motivation enough for their users to want to get featured. All they need to do is share their posts using #<brand name>_DreamBig.

                                              Use it everywhere

                                              Your Instagram hashtag tactics are a part of the larger marketing strategy for your brand. So the hashtags you use on Instagram should be coherent with those you use on other platforms. This helps maintain a consistent brand image. To save your brand's hashtag from fading away, make sure you use it across all your social media profiles.

                                                    Take it offline

                                                    Your hashtag's visibility does not need to be restricted to the online space only. In order to make it viral, use it as much as possible, even in your traditional marketing campaigns.

                                                    Display it prominently on all your marketing paraphernalia including flyers, hoardings, banners etc. Use it in your television commercials and print ads as well.

                                                    A leading soft drink manufacturer used this technique in their 2015 Super Bowl Campaign. They launched the hashtag #MakeItHappy and used it extensively on all their social media pages. They used the same hashtag on YouTube and television commercials. Further, they took it to print ads and other marketing collaterals as well.

                                                          Ask influencers to promote the hashtag

                                                          You can also collaborate with Instagram influencers from your niche and ask them to use your branded hashtag in their sponsored posts. This can increase the reach of your hashtag even further. In this way, influencer marketing can help you increase your brand's reach too.

                                                          However, you must be very thorough when you choose an influencer. Make sure that they have a decent sized following and a solid engagement rate. You can use various influencer marketing platforms to find verified influencers. These can even help you manage your campaigns and calculate your ROI.

                                                                Final thoughts

                                                                Instagram hashtags offer marketers an effortless way to boost brand awareness and customer engagement. However, adding random hashtags to your Instagram posts won't do you any good. Instead, you must devise a proper strategy to use them in your marketing campaigns. You can also combine this strategy with other sales tools or CRMs such as Salesmate to improve customer engagement.

                                                                Create a hashtag that is unique and in coordination with your brand. Identify other hashtags that are relevant to your products or services and incorporate them organically in your Instagram posts. Encourage your customers to use them as well to spread the word about your brand.


                                                                      Which other Instagram hashtag tactics have been successful for you? Let us know in the comments section below!

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