Did you know that over 1 billion people use Instagram every month? And it is not that just. According to Hootsuite, Over 500 million of them love to use the platform everyday. And this market is super targeted with most of them comprising of users under the age of 35. This is a good market to sell products to. Put this: WooCommerce affiliate plugin has been growing popularity in Instagram too.
Because of this, the number of online stores in the platform has increased. 71% of US businesses now use Instagram to promote their business. In fact, there are now 25 million business profiles on Instagram. And it is expected to keep growing in the years to come. Some online sellers were able to create a full time business just from the platform. This means that they still earn money even if they don’t have a website or a store in other social media platforms. That’s how powerful Instagram is.
Also, users of Instagram are very open to product promotions. Unlike Facebook and email where users often ignore ads, Instagram offers a no-distraction view of ads in mobile gadgets. The user only sees the ad and nothing else. And since it uses pictures, it allows for better mental retention for advertisers. With this, it is not surprising that over 75% of Instagram users purchase through the platform. In fact, they even use it to search for other products through hashtags.
One of the ways why Instagram marketing is so effective is because of hashtags. This allows sellers to have their posts discovered through the built in Instagram search system. In this article, you’ll learn what a hashtag is, why it is useful in your business and how you can use it to boost your traffic and sales.
What’s a Hashtag?
A hashtag is a word with a ‘#’ sign in the beginning. It is usually added to Instagram posts and act as links to other posts or photos in the same category. If keywords are used in search engines, hashtags are used in social media channels. This allows users to search through all the posts and find the ones that they need the most.
Hashtags are useful in your business for it can help you in three ways.
As mentioned, hashtags allow your content to be searchable in Instagram. If you append a hashtag to your photo, that photo will show in the search results when someone searches for that particular hashtag. This will help people find your brand.
NOTE: Hashtags can only work if your Instagram is public. If your account is private, no one is going to find you even if you append hashtags in your photos. So be sure to set your profile to public if you want to experience a boost of extra social media search traffic from hashtags.
Hashtags are often themed. This means that if you append a particular hashtag to your photo, there are also other people who are doing the same. Because of this, hashtags allow you to connect with people in your industry. So if you have posted a photo, you’ll easily find another photo with the same hashtags. This is quite useful if you want to connect with your industry or want to do influencer marketing.
By making your profile more discoverable in Instagram search, you get more traffic to your posts. If your posts are worth engaging in, you’ll find that the simple act of adding hashtags to your posts will already generate some likes and comments to your photos. This will increase your reach in Instagram. This is useful especially if you are running an ecommerce website that have different products. With hashtags, your potential customers will find your profile and buy from you.
Knowing about hashtags is different from actually using it in your business. I have seen businesses in Instagram that are completely new but they manage to get more likes, followers and sales just because of hashtags. It is about using hashtags to its full potential. In this section, you’ll learn different ways to use hashtags to boost your traffic and sales.
STEP 1: Research Hashtags
First, you should learn to search hashtags. You will not know what hashtags to use for your posts if you don’t know them. They are more than just using general searchable keywords. It is about knowing the right combination of keywords that are used by most users of Instagram.
For example, users love to append the word ‘insta’ in their main hashtag. So if they have a picture of food, they will have a hashtag called ‘instafood’. The same is true for others such as ‘instatravel’, ‘instadrink’ and the likes. The same is the word ‘gram’. They use keywords like ‘foodstagram’ or ‘kawaiistagram’. It is about researching your industry and getting to know the hashtags that they use the most.
To search for hashtags, simply go to the discover section of your Instagram app. There you can input a keyword and then select hashtags. One word will often reveal more related hashtags. This will give you an idea on what hashtags your audience is using.
NOTE: When searching for hashtags, Instagram is now showing the posts with the highest engagements. I find that it is better to shift to the more recent option. This way, you’ll find all the recent posts with the hashtag. These are more useful than really old photos with a high number of likes.
STEP 2: Put Hashtags in the Comment Section
A common error in putting hashtags is to put it in the main description of your posts. If you do this, the photo gets a series of hashtags instead of a proper caption. While this used to be acceptable 3 years ago, it is not so acceptable now. Instead of putting the hashtags right at the caption, it is better to write a caption and put the series of hashtags in the comment. This way, the hashtags will still allow your post to be discoverable but it will not crowd the caption section.
STEP 3: Incorporate Hashtags into your Caption
In connection with not crowding your caption with hashtags, you should try to incorporate the hashtags right into your caption. For example, instead of putting the hashtags ‘#instadessert #desserstagram #foodie #foodpic #foodstagram’ in your food post. You can include it right in your caption like this. ‘Feeling such a pro #foodie lately. Here is a picture perfect for #dessertstagram.’ As you can see, the hashtags are included in the phrase instead of being listed as a bunch of keywords. It looks more natural this way.
STEP 4: Look at Similar Instagram Profiles
From here, you may still be wondering about the type of keywords that you should use for your hashtags. Well, there are no set of keywords that are right for you. It all depends on your research. It will help to look at similar Instagram profiles when you do this.
You can do this in two ways.
First, you can look at the profiles that come up when you search for a particular keyword. When you use Instagram’s search feature, you’ll find that you will get some profiles in the result. You can click on these profiles to see their photos and what tags they are using.
Another way is to search for the hashtag and look at the photos that are using it. There’s a huge chance that the photos that used the hashtag that you have searched for are using other hashtags as well. You can now collect these hashtags for your own posting.
PRO TIP: There are now some hashtag generator apps that create the hashtags for you. This can cut your research time in half. All you need to do is feed it with a seed keyword and it will automatically generate a series of hashtags that you can copy and paste to your posts. An example of this is AllHashtag and Ingramer.
STEP 5: Use Branded Hashtags
Hashtags are not limited to keywords. You can also use your brand name and variations of your brand name to promote your business. Branded hashtags are great for tracking mentions. This way, you know who is promoting your business.
NOTE: For this to work, you need to let your audience know that you have a branded hashtag. Then, you should instruct them to use this hashtag every time they talk about you. You can combine this with referral marketing so that you can reward them every time they mention you. This will encourage them to constantly use your hashtag so that their family and friends can get to know your business.
STEP 6: Use Hashtags in Influencer Marketing
Hashtags are quite useful in influencer marketing as well. If you choose to work with a particular influencer, you can create a dedicated hashtag just for that. This can do multiple things for your business. First, it can strengthen your credibility. This will show that you are a business that can be trusted. Second, it can improve your social proof. The hashtag will solidify your relationship with the influencer in your prospects’ minds. So if they see the influencer, they can think about you as well.
STEP 7: Use Hashtags for Sorting Your Photos into Categories
Running an online store with Instagram? No problem! Hashtags can help you sort your products into categories. Some sellers use hashtags to tag items that are available and items that are sold out. This way, their buyers will know which item is still available just by clicking on the hashtag. It is also good if you post multiple products a day. With a hashtag, you can sort your products so that your customers will only see the products that they are interested in. With the hashtag, they will be able to filter through your posts.
STEP 8: Use Hashtags for Contests and Events
There is a reason why there are dedicated hashtags for weddings and events. This is not only for sorting photos but also for promotion purposes. These hashtags are often unique to the event. For weddings, it is a witty combination of the names of the bride and groom. What matters is that it is memorable. This way, the people who participated in the event can easily use it and find posts that pertains to the event.
Also, hashtags are great for contests. You can run a contest where you require your followers to share your photo on Instagram. They can then use a hashtag so that you can easily find their posts. This is great for giveaways. It has a chance to increase your follower count as well.
PRO TIP: Combine contests with influencer marketing and you have one powerful way to promote to your market. All you need to do is find an influencer whose followers are relevant to your business. From there, you can host a contest with them. Just provide the prize and they will do the promotion. You can also combine this with the combined hashtag idea from the other step. Just combine your brand name with the influencer’s name and you have a powerful hashtag that can boost your credibility, traffic and sales all in one go.
Hashtags are indeed powerful. It may seem like an ordinary word appended to related photos on Instagram but it is an untapped marketing tool for getting more traffic and sales to your business. It is important to not only use hashtags but understand the logic behind why your audience use it. This will allow you to think creatively of new hashtags that you can use for your posts.
What do you think of hashtags? Are you going to use it in your next Instagram post? You really have nothing to lose. Adding hashtags to your post is free. It offers you free promotion across the Instagram platform. If you want more exposure, you can run some ads. But hashtags offer you a free way to get some traffic and sales to your business.