So firstly you might be wondering what an earth are hashtags?
A hashtag is a Metadata that helps add words to a catogery; to be a hashtag the word(s) must have the # symbol infront of it with no spacing, for example #fashionlove is correct #fashion love is not (Neff and Moss, 2016). The word will then go into the category to enable users to find your post (Neff and Moss, 2016). Check out Rebecca Hiscott blog for more detail on what hashtags are.
Secondly, you might be thinking why on earth do I have to use hashtags?
Bruns and Burgess argue that hashtags increase the audience level of a campagain while Saxton (2015) argued that hashtags enhance consumer engagement; Simply Measured (2014) research identified that the use of one hashtag can increase consumer engagement by 12.4% in contrast to the use of no hashtags. The need for hashtags is heighten within Instagram as the method to find pages is to search for a hashtag; unless you know the direct name (Dobson, 2017). Minazzi (2014) further argued that businesses with high consumer engagement experience higher levels of revenue and customer loyalty; with the high costs of acquiring new customers, customer retainment is of importance (Rosenberg and Czepial, 1984).
Thus, it is of importance to understand how to use hashtags effectively within an Instagram initiative (Wooldridge and Pierce, 2014).
Luckily, this blog will equip you with that information; so, you, yourself, yes you, can make an epic and memorable hashtags to fuel your Instagram marketing.
Aynsley (2016) identifies that hashtags should only be used if they are relevant to your brand, industry and target audience. Unrelated hashtags may reduce your post reaching its targeted audience (Saxton, 2015), thus reducing the effectiveness of the marketing initiative (Price, 2012) because it’s not reaching people who can be turned into consumers (Steinbacher, 2004). For example, a specific hashtag would be #mineralfoundation instead of #foundation.
However, hashtags shouldn’t be too refined such as #minteralfoundationtannedskin as it will reduce the amount of users seeing it, thus decreasing the awareness of your post in which according to the AIDA model is the first stage to a sale (Gharibi et al, 2012).
Research what hashtags your competitors are using
By doing so, you can determine which hashtags provide the best consumer engagement (Loren, 2017) and these can be added to your post. Take a look at Eric Sornoso article which provides further guide to doing this effectively
Use hashtags that influential people within your industry are using
If you are a clothing retailer follow successful fashion bloggers on Instagram, such as Hanneli Mustaparta (Tai, 2017). Look at their hashtags within their posts. Within this example, all these influencers share the mutual hashtag of #OOTD (Outfit of the Day) (Instagram.com, 2017). Thus, you should be using these hashtags to increase your pages awareness because they are already established within your target audience (Aynsley, 2016).
However, these hashtags may be too generic and thus not reach your specific targeted audience (Levy, 2013). This process therefore should also be further refined to your segment, for example, if you are a hand man clothing retailer, also follow sewing bloggers, such as Dolly Clacket and Almond Rock who use Instagram to showcase their latest fashion creations (Aneira, 2017). Again, look at their use of hashtags, in this example, they all share a common theme hashtag of #sewcialists and #sewing (Instagram, 2017). The more specific your hashtag is to your targeted audience, the more effective it is, because this is the audience that your product/service is for (Aynsley, 2016; Levy, 2013) and thus can have an adverse effect on your revenue (Kelly and Williams, 2017).
Use Instagram’s search bar
Type a relevant word to your industry or Instagram post on Instagram’s search engine, for example, #handmadewardrobe; Instagram will put a list of words associated with that word with the number of posts containing those hashtags; See figure 2. It is important to note that hashtags containing and large amount of content may result in your posts getting lost and not having an impact on your target audience (Anysley, 2017), thus have a mixture of niche and popular hashtags.
Figure 1: Instagram Search Bar
Number of Hashtags
In contrast to Facebook and Twitter, there is no adverse effect between higher number of hashtags and consumer engagement; Simply Measured (2014) research identified that the use of one hashtag can increase consumer engagement by 12.4% in contrast to the use of no hashtags. The maximum number of tags is 30, however, a study from TrackMaven (2017)displayed that the optimum is around the 5 mark; see figure 3
Figure 3: Interactions by Number of Hashtags
However, a new Instagram initiative might want to use a number of specific hashtags to gain a higher audience level due to a smaller amount of followers (Roberson, 2016) thus there is a technique to hide your hashtags to reduce your post looking cluttered (Anysley, 2016). Check out this YouTube video that illustrates this simple technique.
Read your hashtags
It is of importance you ensure that your hashtags read how you want them too and cannot be interpreted differently to cause offence. Get a third party to read through them to check for this. Take a look at some hashtags fails.
Encourage User Generated Content
If the advice on this blog was rated; this would be the Usain Bolt of advice…
From my last blog, you will be aware of the benefits of UGC. I’ve probably just caught a number of you out; You haven’t read my last blog have you.. Don’t worry, I forgive you. But, let me quickly provide you with 1 fact about UGC.
93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision (Gotter, 2016).
If you’re not as crazy about UGC as I am, take a look at this link
Back to hashtags;
Within your Instagram campagain create a branded hashtag that encourages users to use the hashtag in their posts. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at ASOS successful use of a hashtag to influence user generated content.
ASOS’s asked costumer’s to use the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe when wearing outfits purchased by ASOS for a chance to be reposted on their Instagram page; See figure 4. The hashtag encourages customer engagement through giving people an opportunity to express themselves (Oh et al, 2008; Sirgy, 1982) with the reward of recognition from their community peers (Anderson, 2016). The hashtag was used to increase engagement and sales; the page has a high following with 60.2k followers and overall sales increased by 18% after the launch of the campagain (Vizard, 2016).
Inspire your audience
The competive nature of social media marketing (Wilson, 2016) may mean that hashtags need to gain users interest to aid to generate UGC (Domingue et al, 2012). This can be achieved through using hashtags to inspire your audience (Carr and Newell, 2012). This is the approach that Sports England took in their campagain to improve female participation in sports (Kemp, 2016). They asked users to tag the hashtag #ThisGirlCan in their sporting photos to inspire other women (Kemp, 2016); see figure 5. Take a look at their success in doing this.
So, that’s it, simple I know, so what’s stopping you from taking on the Instagram hashtag world?
Just quickly, here are my tops tips for an effective hashtag on Instagram;
Ø Be specific
Ø Look at the hashtags that competitors and industry influencers are using
Ø Allow your hashtags to encourage and inspire user generated content
Ø Ensure your hashtags read how you want and can’t be interpreted differently
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