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Instagram for Business – Hashtags

Posted by Eileen Bernardo on July 29th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

We’ve all seen them.  But do we know what they are used for in social media? Do we know what they do? Do you know how to use them effectively?

I’m talking about hashtags. Perhaps you recognize the sign: #.  On it’s own, it is the “number” sign when paired with a numeral or “pound key” when on a phone.

But on social media the “#” sign has a completely different meaning.  When “#” is followed by words or terms on social media channels, it is called a “hashtag.”   Hashtags on social media serve a specific purpose – to group together photos, thoughts, trends, events, etc. that have commonalities or share a meaning in one place.

For example, professional sports teams hashtag their team name (#sfgiants, #49ers), prominent figures hashtag events or their persona (#Obama2012, #POTUS), and trends hashtag a particular thought/idea/concept (#nailart, #sneakerlife).  When each hashtag is clicked, it takes the user to a results page that shows every photo/video/post that has been tagged with that hashtag.

Hashtags, also used often on Twitter and (more recently) Facebook, work differently for each individual one.  As businesses increasingly include newcomer Instagram in business plans, it’s important to know how Instagram uniquely uses hashtags to ensure social media efficiency and success.

1. Use a dedicated hashtag for your brand.

Choose a unique dedicated hashtag for your brand.  You want your hashtag to be one of a kind so that anytime this hashtag is used, it is directly associated with you.  For example, #nike will overwhelmingly be posts associated with the Nike brand just as #disneyland will populate posts associated with the happiest place on Earth.

2. Dedicate a hashtag for a specific event.

Are you having a specific event? Dedicate a hashtag to this event and encourage all attendees to include the hashtag when they post photos.  Event hashtags can be used for events of all sizes such from world championship events (#NBAFinals, #Superbowl2013, #WorldSeries) to company holiday parties (#ViralheatXmas2013, #ViralheatBirthdays).  At the end of the day, anyone can click this dedicated hashtags to see all the photos or videos posted tagged as such.

3. Have a purpose to your hashtag.

Don’t hashtag just to hashtag.  Have a purpose behind your hashtag because you want to send your audience to a particular place (a results page associated with your brand).  Avoid the nonsense hashtag (#impostingthisbecauseimbored) as those just take up space and lead your audience in the wrong direction.

4. Hashtag sparingly.

No one likes the excessive hashtagger.  When a post has an overabundance of hashtags, users tend to ignore them and your hashtag can go unnoticed or considered as spam.  Use three hashtags max to ensure your posts have meaning and receive the right attention.

Hashtags can be a very effective business tool when used strategically.  Both businesses and consumers use hashtags so businesses can benefit in a number of ways.  They can keep their audience informed of new products and events while also staying up-to-date with how their audience feels.

2 Responses to “Instagram for Business – Hashtags”

  1. I always enjoy reading articles about this, given the social media landscape is changing so frequently. With regard to best practices, you think three (3) hashtags for Instagram is best? I get this for Twitter and Facebook, I've just always seen more on Instagram. Perhaps it's fewer, more strategic hashtags for business over personal.

    • Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for the feedback! Instagram is definitely making its name known in the business world as many users are transitioning to it (I find that more people are actively posting and checking Instagram over their Facebook accounts). I agree that three seems to be the magic number for hashtags - but this is at most. In regards to Instagram hashtags, less is more so be cognizant of the hashtags you choose, especially if it is for business purposes. Too many hashtags come off looking desperate or like SPAM and many eyes will glaze over them without even taking note of what is being hashtagged.

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