For eleven years, Instagram has been inching up the social media platform thermometer, getting hotter and hotter every year. Roughly 67% of 18 to 29-year-olds say Instagram is their favorite social site. Furthermore, almost half of 30 to 49-year-olds enjoy it too. Instagram divides evenly between men and women, with 130 million users in the United States alone.
Think of hashtags like a fast-moving stream. Each one flows into a river filled with potential customers. The more relevant your hashtags are to your target customer, the more opportunity you have to reach qualified buyers. Research suggests an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag.
Small Business Guidelines for Using Hashtags
Every business should include hashtags as part of their Instagram marketing strategy, especially if your target market is between 18 and 49. When using hashtags, remember to focus on your business objective rather than the hashtag itself. There are a few do’s and don’ts, however, so follow our handy guide to hashtag perfection.
1. Keep hashtags simple
Don’t create long or complicated hashtags. If there are too many words in your hashtag, chances are no one else will be typing it in. Use 2 to 4 words at the most and only relevant hashtags to the subject of the post. Search hashtags on Instagram prior to selecting them to gauge their popularity based on the number of times used.
2. Be specific
For instance, the hashtag #restaurant has over 40 million posts under it, so your visibility drops due to the sheer volume of competition. Use #gourmetrestaurant instead—which has a little over 40,000 posts. Your chances of discovery will increase. A detailed hashtag targets the customer looking for specific places or products. Consider including popular location hashtags if you have a brick-and-mortar business for greater visibility in your area.
3. Build your brand
Create a special hashtag that defines your business. Yes, you are selling your products or services, but you also want to build your brand. When creating your own hashtag, make sure it’s not in use by another company already. You want to create something unique and memorable to promote on your website or in your marketing materials.
4. Don’t overuse hashtags
No one except a few internal employees at social media companies understands the exact workings of their respective social media algorithms affecting social SEO. However, it is a well-known fact that adding too many hashtags or adding irrelevant hashtags will lower your post’s visibility on many platforms. Just ask entrepreneur/rapper, 50 Cent, what happened to his entire Instagram account.