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How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Business


Did you know an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than a post with no hashtags?


Hashtags are powerful. They can help your posts reach a target audience, attract followers in your niche, increase engagement, and develop a more positive and recognizable brand image.

Here's the thing, though: with great power comes great responsibility (#spiderman).


We want your business's Instagram posts to receive optimal engagement, so we've put together an quick guide for using Instagram hashtags for your business. With this guide, you won't just attract followers -- you'll attract the right followers.


Why are Hashtags Important?

Hashtags are essentially Instagram's sorting process. With around 95 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it's difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in seeing it.


Hashtags are like a funnel. For instance, #marketing is incredibly broad and attracts all types of posts. We've found #digitalmarketing or #marketingmotivation gives us a more specific, targeted reach. The audience searching for these hashtags are also trying to narrow their search to what we offer related to Marketing, so we're actually reaching more of the right people.


Essentially, hashtags are a better way to categorize your posts. They help you reach a target audience, and more importantly, they help your target audience find you. These users are more likely to engage with your post because your post is exactly what they wanted.


Figure Out Your Magic Number

Most top brands -- 91% of them, to be exact -- use seven or fewer hashtags per post, so it's easy to assume that's the magic number for everyone … right? Wrong, this isn't always the case. We have seen our clients have been more successful with hashtags ranging in the low 20s.


The point is, you can't know how many hashtags work best for you until you test it. It can take several months to find a number that works best. Give yourself the same flexibility for trial and error.


Narrow Down Your Hashtags

There are two big reasons more specific, smaller-volume hashtags are better for your brand: first, you can compete in a smaller pool. Our business, for example, doesn't typically use the hashtag #marketing in every post because it's too broad. If you search #marketing, you'll find pictures of restaurants, inspirational quotes, before-and-after hair style pictures, and memes.


The randomness of #marketing leads me to the second reason specific hashtags are a good idea: as a user, I'm more likely to find what I need if I search for something specific, and when your business comes up for my specific search request, I'm more likely to be happy with what I found.


Keeping a hashtag close to the interests of your brand really helps. We try to use hashtags tailored for a specific topic and then narrow it down further -- for instance, we'd use #SEOTips if our marketing post was mostly about SEO.


Think of it this way: #dogs is more popular, but it has a wide demographic. If I search #goldenretrieverpuppies and I find your post, I'm more likely to engage with it because it's exactly what I wanted.


Research What Other People are "Hashtagging"

An easy way to generate hashtag ideas is to make a list of your followers or competitors and research what they're hashtagging on their own photos. It can also be particularly helpful to research what influencers in your industry are hashtagging -- by definition, influencers are people with a large social media following, so they must be doing something right.


Test Out Related Hashtags.

When you type a hashtag into Instagram's search bar, Instagram shows you related hashtags in the scroll-down menu. Instagram also delivers related hashtags on the next page after you click on a hashtag. This is a simple way to create a longer list of hashtags to try out.


Follow Your Own Hashtag.

Another way to use Instagram hashtags for your marketing purposes is to follow your own hashtag. On Instagram we actually follow the hashtag #offyourplate so we can find anyone who talks about us and connect with them. As long as your account isn't private, people will be able to find you via the hashtag.


Following your own hashtag is an effective way to engage with other people talking about your brand and develop better relationships with them.


Hashtags can skyrocket your business to new heights, but if used too frequently or without a clear strategy in mind, they become inefficient, e.g.: #happy #superhappy #ecstatic #jumpingforjoy #whatsanothersynonym.


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