Instagram’s blowing up in popularity after it launched some interesting user-focused features. Things like Instagram stories, location-based public feeds, and live streaming, have made the app one of the premier choices for millennials across the world. In fact, as of yesterday, Instagram allows you to highlight a specific story on your page. It’s innovating faster than expected and has currently over 700 million users across the world. With stories reaching 200 million daily active users, Instagram is the go-to-choice for all marketers looking to reach a wider audience base.
Talking about Hashtags (#) on Instagram, there are concerns about reach, being lost in the noise, and how effective they can be as branded platforms. Everyone on Instagram has used a hashtag at least once or twice, either due to curiosity or because they wanted to express an emotion or mood.
Nowadays, they are sometimes overused until they can’t be realistically taken seriously. At some level a lot of people want to become insta-famous, leading to many profiles overusing hashtags until they’re unrecognizable. Here’s where your brand can offer genuine communication and messaging, that relates to your audience.
Why Hashtags are key
No piece of branded content is complete without a hashtag accompanying it to give it context. A post about Independence Day goes well with #blessed or #indianpride, just to give it extra meaning and form a deeper connection with fans. Hashtags are also a great way to give fans a single expression or platform to converse with.
For example – if you curate the hashtag #shoeparade, and you ask your fans to parade around town with their high heel shoes, you’ll get excitement and buzz going. People will be expressing themselves with an unbranded hashtag, but the User Generated Content (UGC) created amplifies the brand’s message. Next, the brand can come up with a whole line of Instagram creatives talking about parading your brand-new shoes. The possibilities are endless, and it’s up to marketers to “listen” to what their audience really wants.
Types of Instagram Hashtags
There are many types of Instagram hashtags that are doing the rounds in 2017, going over to 2018. The most popular among them include the following key categories:
#Branded – These are hashtags that a brand would indulge in by making it their own. Customers are increasingly cynical these days and are wary of any promotional posts that brands push out. That’s why they work with influencers who pose with the hashtag or include it in their picture – making it a natural sponsored post. Either way branded hashtags have a clear representation, and if the brand has a deeper meaning behind it, e.g. #amul (nostalgia), #paperboat (childlike), etc. then the hashtag performs better than unbranded ones.
#Mood – Expressing a certain mood or feeling behind the picture is one of the most popular forms of hashtags that currently exist. If someone posts a picture on Instagram and they’re having a great time, they’d accompany it with a hashtag like #mood, #sundayfunday, #winning, etc.
#Moment – This is a hashtag that talks about a moment, thereby giving the picture more depth and clarity. People post pictures that either talk about an anniversary or a special award, and the caption is with a hashtag talking about that moment. E.g. #goa, #bachelors, #december, #anniversary, etc.
#Community – Finally, the fourth type of hashtag is the community one. This is where a group of people post a picture and express a community or a single photo talking about a community that they feel like they’re a part of. E.g. #ketomoms, #partypeople, #runners, etc. Brands can tap into this community aspect, and engage with community members via these hashtags.
How to trend on a hashtag
By utilizing any of the above-mentioned hashtags, on your posts, and working with influencers to participate in your campaigns, you can trend your hashtag on Instagram. Although your hashtag will reach a limited audience size, depending on which community you target, your engagement rates will skyrocket compared to other platforms.
It starts with your communication goals, objectives and what type of brand you are. E.g. if you’re a technology company and you’re launching a new phone, you can hashtag a feature from that phone and trend it. Apple can do that with #facelock, and ask influencers, its community members, and reviewers to post about the launch with the hashtag they selected.
Creating your own branded hashtag
The hashtag that you create, should emerge organically and should empower the audience and not vice-versa. E.g. few people will type in your brand’s whole name in a hashtag and post a picture. Many will want to type it if they’re hunting for certain information or aspiring to participate in your community. E.g. for a honey brand, you can create a hashtag about #bees and talk about how bees are being illtreated across India, thereby garnering reach that reflects well on your brand. You are positioned as a thought leader and you get to engage with fans that care about ethical treatment of animals and bees.
Another way of creating a branded hashtag is to focus on who your customers are. OnePlus does a great job by creating an aspirational hashtag of #neversettle, which is a great entrepreneurial message that inspires Indian youth.
It depends on your brand and message, and it creates a sense of organic connection when you put in some thought behind your branded hashtag.
Tools for finding hashtags
Certain times, you may need to tap into the pool of hashtags that are relevant to your niche. Here are some great tools to help you do just that:
#Buzzsumo – Buzzsumo is a great platform to help you find content and hashtags that are being used the most by people that you want to target. It gives you a strong idea of what’s trending, and what hashtags people use the most.
#Autocomplete – You can find the most popular hashtags after using Instagram’s own autocomplete feature that shows you how many posts are shared under what similar hashtag. It’s a great tool if you’re trying to do research.
#Hashtagify.me – Another great tool to do trend research about what hashtag is trending at what time