Last week we shared the first installment of our three part series on using Instagram for business. We discussed the importance of posting quality imagery, maintaining an appearance that is cohesive with your brand, and using a professional writing voice. If you missed it, you can catch up on it here.
In the last post, we stayed on the very surface of Instagram development. The visuals of your account are very important, but building a successful Instagram involves other factors as well. These factors include developing and implementing strategies for using hashtags and engagement, which are what will draw people to your page. This week we will focus on how to create a successful hashtag strategy for Instagram.
Hashtags have become a part of today’s culture. They appear on T-shirts, advertisements, and even pop up in conversation. But what are they really? A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound sign (#) used to create relevancy about a certain topic on social media. They allow Instagram users to narrow down the billions of images and only view those within categories that they find interesting. Instagrammers can use the search option to browse for content that they like, such as #architecture, #interiordesign, or #fashionblogger.
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 tags with each image that you post. Since each hashtag you post is essentially a window to a new audience, it is important to select them carefully and to utilize all 30. So how do you choose them? Start by thinking of some general topics that apply to what you are posting. Let’s say you have a real estate company. Type #realestate into the Instagram tag search field and see what comes up. Instagram suggests #realestateagent and #realestatelife as well. These would all be great tags for you to use. #Architecture relates to real estate, but you will see that it has over 33 million previous uses. This means that photos using that tag will be almost immediately lost in the sea of other posts. For this reason, it is best to avoid using hashtags with over 4 or 5 million uses but you can still use them as starting points to help you search for other relevant tags. Similarly, you should avoid using tags that have under around 100,000 uses because that means that they are not popular terms.
It is also good to select a wide variety of hashtags; some that are broad categories and others that are narrow topics. Hashtags like #architecturelover, #realtor, and #homedesign are broad and will target a wide range of viewers. Using very specific tags that pinpoint the details or location of your content will reach a smaller but much more targeted audience. Examples of this would be #LArealestate, #midcenturymodern, or #beachhouse.
A lot of this strategy depends on what sort of business you have as well. It would be helpful to check out some successful Instagrams similar to yours and see what tags they are using.
Once you have selected 30 hashtags, it is convenient to save them in a document for ease of future use. When you want to use them for an Instagram post, simply copy and paste them into a comment immediately following your photo. If they are posted in a comment right after the photo rather than the caption itself, your caption will maintain a tidy appearance rather than being overwhelmed by a large list of tags. The comment with the tags will disappear from view once you have received two more comments following it. Be sure to post the hashtag comment immediately following your image so that you receive the most benefits from the tags. The longer you wait, the further down your image will be ranked among your chosen tags.
Next week–in our final installment of this Instagram for business series—we will tackle one final Instagram strategy. This strategy relates to how you can build your audience simply by engaging with other accounts. Stay tuned!