How do hashtags work?
By now, pretty much everyone knows what hashtags are, the short words or phrases that are prefixed by a ‘#’ sign at the end of social media posts. Each hashtag works as a sort of channel to filter your information and match it to Instagram users with those interests. When used correctly they can be an efficient way to target your posts and attract new followers to your business page.
Each hashtag should be descriptive or reflect something to do with your business, for example, if you are a social media agency then hashtags could be #socialmarketing #affordablesocial #digitalmarketing. Avoid hashtags that are irrelevant even if they are popular or trending, they will not attract the right kind of user to your Instagram business account.
Use modified hashtags
A quick check of the hashtag #entrepreneur reveals that the tag is currency associated with 88,298,541 posts – so competition is pretty stiff. Adding a word modifier can help you get your Instagram business posts in front of the right people and reach potential customers easier. Labelling and categorizing your posts with word modifiers like #digitalentrepreneur, #londonentrepreneur, or #freelanceentrepreneur can reduce the number of posts associated with popular terms and increase the chances of your content being seen, gaining more followers for your new business.
Being creative with your primary hashtags can place your posts in niches that your future customers will see and if you are struggling for inspiration then looking at some of your competitors’ content should provide you with some ideas for business hashtags.If you really need help to target business hashtags then you could consider using a planning tool. There are a number of tools online that will help you by suggesting hashtags around your business and listing the most popular ones.
How many hashtags should you use?
Each instagram post can have a caption count totalling 2200 characters, as with all social media the length of visible posts is restricted until people view your content and in the case of Instagram only the first 125 characters can be seen in the feed as content is scrolled down. Along with post captions hashtags can be added and Instagram allows 30 hashtags to be added per post. Until recently the logical thinking was that more hashtags equated to better engagement. But that may no longer be the case.
Earlier in the year Instagram changed its stance on hashtags and reduced the recommended number to 8 -15 tags. More recently the company reduced their recommendation again and lowered the number even further to just 3 -5 recommended hashtags per post. While this may leave some users relieved that they no longer have to generate 30 hashtags at a time, it can also leave business owners wondering if this will limit their content’s visibility.
So what’s the answer? Well, it’s all about targeting and relevancy.
Even though 30 hashtags are still currently permissible, Instagram is dedicated to improving the customer experience by providing relevant content and 3-5 hashtags have been deemed the correct number to achieve that goal. It will also remove the ‘filler’ hashtags that many users add to their social posts to simply fill up the 30 posts quota.
For company owners this means that the tags used will be even more important in the coming months and relevant business hashtags will need to be selected with care.
Support hashtags with good content
Generating top Instagram hashtags to promote your business will certainly place your content in front of the correct users, however, generating interest in your company will take more than just a few well placed tags.
Your content will also need to be appealing to attract new likes and followers, and making posts that feature interesting information and that contain high quality images can attract more people to your social channel. Without good content even the best targeted hashtags in the world will not encourage new followers.
The same applies to creating posts captions, informative and interesting text that shares information will act as a magnet for new users. Share stories, answer questions, and leave tips that keep your audience coming back for more.
How do I choose the right hashtags?
Even if you are following new Instagram guidelines and using just 3 – 5 hashtags for your business posts you will want to make sure that you are choosing the right ones. Here’s a few quick checks to help you.
The right hashtags should –
- Be descriptive and expand on the posts image or intended topic
- Are likely to appeal to, or be followed by, your targeted market
- Fully aligned with your brand/business message
Keeping these things in mind when choosing the best hashtags for your business posts will help to improve content performance, attract users, and expand your reach. Remember the goal of hashtags is to serve the right content to the right people.
As with any social media channels it will be important to post regularly and keep your content fresh to prevent interest fading. If you can’t keep up with the demands of posting regularly then you could consider a managed social media service to keep your Instagram business account filled with great content.