If you grew up before cell phones were something every 9 year old had and can remember when going online meant blocking the landline and listening to the God-awful sound of dial-up internet, you probably also remember when this à # was called a pound sign. Nowadays it’s more commonly referred to as a hashtag, and it’s something that businesses across the globe are leveraging for their online marketing. Originally a symbol made popular by Twitter, hashtags are now also being used on the photo sharing site Instagram.
Like Twitter, hashtags on Instagram are used by members to help them locate other people, businesses and content that they find interesting and want to interact with. And with 300 million monthly active users, that’s quite an audience you can potentially reach.
Each piece of content you post on Instagram can include a short description, which should also contain hashtags to help organize your material and make it easier for people to find you. Overall, hashtags can help you bolster brand recognition and expand your business reach.
If you’re not yet on the hashtag bandwagon, then sit tight because you’re in for the ride of your life. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Either way, you’re about to learn about how to use hashtags on Instagram to benefit your business as well as what are the top hashtags to use, which is still pretty exciting.
How to Use Hashtags on Instagram
The guidelines for using hashtags on Instagram follow many of the same principles as on Twitter. They are made up of one or more words with no spaces, directly following the “#” symbol. Hashtags should provide a quick description of the content you’re sharing. For instance, if I put a picture of my logo up, I might use #MyCompanyName. Hashtags are not case sensitive, but you may want to capitalize the first letter of each word if you’re using a phrase so that it’s easier to read.
When you’re using hashtags on Instagram, you can be pretty generous. Use them in your profile, photo descriptions, comments – anywhere and everywhere (I can just hear Oprah now…”you get a hashtag, you get a hashtag….EVERYBODY gets a hashtag!”). That being said, you’re allowed up to 30 hashtags with each piece of content. I don’t recommend using ALL 30 of them unless you are shooting for that “desperate marketer without a personality” look. 5-10 should be sufficient.
It’s also important to make sure that the hashtags you use are relevant to your content. While some of the top hashtags may get your photos and videos found, if they’re not related to what you’re sharing you’ll have missed the mark. You may even end up turning people off rather than endearing them to your brand. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the top hashtags on Instagram for small businesses.
Branded Hashtags – These are hashtags that are directly associated with your business. They may contain your business name or a tag line that’s associated with your other marketing campaigns. For instance, if you include the phrase “Just Get it Done” on your website or in your other ad copy, you may want to create the hashtag #JustGetItDone (see what I did there?) and use it in your Instagram content.
General Business Related Hashtags – Instagram users who are searching for information about small businesses and related content will likely use the following hashtags:
#SmallBusiness, #SmallBiz , #SMB, and #Startup
#Sales, #Marketing or #Mktg
Including these hashtags in relevant posts will make it easier for potential followers to find you.
Lifestyle Hashtags – Remember that like other online platforms, Instagram is a social network so it’s ok for your activity to show a little personality. For fun, try using some of the more popular hashtags like:
#ThrowBackThursday or #TBT – with older pictures of your business or employees
#PhotoOfTheDay or #PicOfTheDay – with a different picture related to your brand or a certain theme that you share each day
#Fun – to share some photos or videos that show the lighter side of your office activities
You can use any of these, or start a few of your own. Play around a little. See which hashtags tend to get you the most attention and go from there. But whatever you do, just don’t miss the boat on this one. 40% of top brands now use Instagram as part of their online marketing strategy and you should be too. #WhatAreYouWaitingFor #GoGetYourHashtagOn