My current position as a marketing consultant at a non-profit project and our project target of 500 businesses going through the program by October 2019 means that I get a lot of questions. And of course, there is bound to be repetition, inquiries into marketing that come up over and over again. Enter FAQ Friday, so you too can find the answers and utilise it for your own marketing planning.
The 2019 social media landscape is incredibly crowded, viciously competitive and organic reach is stifled by the platforms’ need to make money. It is getting harder and harder to be found and seen organically, so planning for how do we achieve that is key. Instagram is one of those social media platforms where people actively search for content, inspiration and ideas. The way users find these is the superpower of hashtags. These little # symbols placed in front of words and expressions categorise your photos and videos, thus helping people to find images and accounts dedicated to the same topics. They are also often the gelling agent of communities and as such, are absolutely instrumental. So how should you choose the right ones for you?
Finding the right # is a little bit of keyword research and a little bit of trend research at once. First of all, you need to have an idea of how your target audience is looking for what they want to see? We tend to look for nouns on Instagram if there is something specific we want, like #livingroominspiration, #teacuppigs or #ootd. For example, if you are an interior designer, it’s safe to say that potential clients of yours would use search terms such as floral wallpaper, lounge inspo, storage hacks etc. As hashtags, they can be very helpful to capture the attention of people you are targeting.
Secondly, have a look at what hashtags are trending in your specific groups and which curating or established media accounts have created popular hashtags? Users pick hashtags that have some meaning to them but also those that can get them seen and potentially featured. And we do look at what others post with these tags, so you can get more reach if you know what is in vogue at the moment.
For example, you might find that a lot of your followers are into outdoor activities and use #thegreatoutdoors as a hashtag. If this fits your product and brand, building your content strategy around this and similar hashtags can help you widen your reach.
Finally, knowing the popular curator accounts in your industry and what hashtags they use will be super helpful too. The best way to gain more followers is to be featured by others. The best way to be featured is building relationships but the second best is making sure you use hashtags these curators are following and regularly repost from. Grace Bonney of Design Sponge may browse through many related hashtags, like #DSpink or #DSflorals when looking to find uniform content she can pick from. Carina os She is Not Lost uses the #sheisnotlost hashtag to rally solo female travellers and see whose aesthetic fits the channel for repost.
In fact, 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are branded, signalling that marketers are betting heavily on user-generated content.
Generally speaking, hashtags with a couple of thousand posts up to about a maximum of 200 000 thousand are best because then they are not overused yet. In these cases, the content with the hashtag tends to be quite consistent so users will actually look at them. You also have more chances to get into the “top” posts for these hashtags, which makes it easier for people to discover you.
The most popular tags, like #love, with 1.4 billion posts, show anything and everything really. They get really diluted and useless for awareness raising purposes.
It is not a trivial amount of work, but it is definitely worth it. Why should you shout to an empty void, posting beautiful images for no one to see, when you can come prepared and grow your audience?