How to master hashtags on Instagram - Matchstick Creative
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How to master hashtags on Instagram

Ever invested a ton of time into adding hashtags to your posts, only to receive little back? We’ve all been there. It can be really off-putting, especially when you’re watching other businesses gain a greater online presence. We’ve put together this post to help you spice up your Insta game with meaningful hashtags.

Which hashtags should I use for my small business?

If you want your brand to be discovered, then you need to be strategic in your approach. Two ways of doing this are:

  • Instagram native search – searching natively on insta groups together the posts under that particular hashtag, and gives you the total number of times it has been used. This will give you an idea of what content is usually posted under it, and whether it matches up with your own.
  • Hashtagify – it gives you a more in-depth analysis including the languages used, top countries, spelling variants, and popularity trend.  A vital tool in researching hashtags, especially if you’re wanting to target a specific audience.

Think: are they relevant to your brand? Is similar content to yours appearing when you search for them on Instagram? Are they popular, or niche?

Carry out competitor research

Researching your competitor’s posts and use of hashtags can help you to decide what to use on your own posts. Not only can you see where you’re lacking, but you can find ways to become more creative in the process. Is what they’re posting original and exciting? If so, use it to your advantage. Make yours better.

Create a hashtag spreadsheet

A great way to organise your research is by making a hashtag spreadsheet.  It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just a column for each title:

  • Column 1: #hashtag – What is the hashtag you are targeting?
  • Column 2: Number of posts (under that specific hashtag, to gage how popular it is)
  • Column 3: Date – so that you can see when this info was recorded, and keep your sheet up-to-date.
  • Column 4: Comments – is it niche, and can you dominate it? Is it reasonably popular, but relevant?

By compiling a list of hashtags for your SME to use, you’re saving time when you come to schedule or post content in the future. Not only will you discover the hashtags that your audience are connecting with and using to find your brand, you’re also gaining ideas for future posts. You’ll gain a well-rounded variety of hashtags, including those you can use to appear in popular searches, and more niche hashtags to gain the attention of specific audiences. You’re setting yourself up for some serious ROI.

By compiling a list of hashtags for your SME to use, you’re saving time when you come to schedule or post content in the future.

Create branded hashtags

Once you’ve got a strong list of hashtags polished off, then you can begin to think about your own branded hashtags. This is something that will certainly help your brand to gain more attention and a much stronger presence online, especially as you gain followers. Here are some examples of how you can do this:

  • Campaigns – our #FemaleFounders series is an example of this. If you have any ideas for campaigns lined up for the future, be sure to own them through hashtags! It’s engaging for your audience, and makes your brand stand out from the crowd.
  • Giveaways – engage your audience as well as getting your brand out there. If you create hashtags for giveaways, and a ‘call to action’ so that your audience will share the post, this will undoubtedly make a name for your brand.  One giveaway could be the spark in user engagement that you need to reach your next follower milestone.
  • Competitions – the type we’re talking about are specific, and different to giveaways. A great example would be Forever21’s #ForeverBabe/#f21xMe  competition, where they give their audience the chance to have their picture featured on the Forever21 Instagram page. This is fantastic for audience engagement, increasing brand awareness, and for User Generated Content.

Use analytics to inform your future work

Analytics add to your canon of tools, helping you better understand how your audience is responding to your campaign. They allow you to see what is working for you as well as what isn’t, along with giving you some idea of what you can improve.

A market-leading tool that we’ve tried and tested ourselves is Sprout Social. It allows you to observe exactly how your hashtags have been doing, including ‘most used hashtags’ and ‘most engaged hashtags’, along with the option to analyse the audience engagement of your competitors on Instagram. This allows you to see how strong your own engagement is compared to theirs. If it’s not up to scratch, then you can get creative about how you’re going to outdo them.

A market-leading tool that we’ve tried and tested ourselves is Sprout Social.

Further reading on Instagram hashtags we recommend

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