Hashtags are valuable marketing tools for businesses on social media
Q: I’m new to using Instagram for my business and trying to understand how hashtags are supposed to be used.
A: Instagram has become a valuable marketing tool as it typically has higher engagement numbers than any of the other major networks, including Facebook and Twitter.
You may have more connections on Facebook, but you’re more likely to get a higher percentage of people interacting with your posts on Instagram.
Engagement is really the most important thing you should focus on and hashtags are a great tool for increasing interactions.
What are #Hashtags?
For the uninitiated, seeing a list of words with # at the beginning can be confusing and hard to digest. Simply put, they are keywords that can improve your chances of connecting with others with similar interests.
Anyone that has spent time trying to improve their website’s search engine results in Google will understand the importance of good keywords.
When you post something without any hashtags, the only interactions you’re likely to get are from those that are currently following you. When you use a hashtag properly, you are essentially joining a community of folks that are more likely to be interested in what you’re posting — think of it as target marketing.
Anyone interested in seeing content for a specific hashtag can search social networks using that hashtag.
Getting started with hashtags
The use of hashtags has become a very sophisticated process with many guidelines and some very important rules, so you’ll need to keep it simple to get started.
Hashtags have no spaces and you can’t use special characters or any punctuation (ex: #properhashtag).
Start by doing a hashtag search in Instagram for a topic that you are interested in to see how the results are generated. You can also start following hashtags.
It’s important to use hashtags that are relevant to your post, so evaluate the content of your post and use hashtags that relate to your product, service, geographic area or general expertise.
If you use irrelevant hashtags like spammers do, your posts can be marked as not relevant by other users — so stay relevant.
Where and how often?
Since hashtags allow your posts to stand out, you should really be using them every time. You can start by including them in your caption: I’m #learning more about #hashtags from @thedatadoc.
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags in a post, but remember, it’s important to stay relevant while using as many as you can.
Including 30 hashtags within your post or even at the end of the post can create a hard-to-read mess, so many users have started using two or three in the primary post followed by lots of others in the first comment.
You can also be penalized for using the same large group of hashtags on every post, so make sure to mix them up.
Convert to a business account
If your Instagram account was setup as an individual, it’s imperative that you convert it to a business account.
This will provide you with important analytics on everything you post, which is critical to understand what’s working and what’s not as you progress.
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