Hashtag Strategies Brands Should Implement to Improve Growth and Awareness
Make your Instagram content more discoverable with these helpful tips and insights.
If used correctly, Instagram hashtags are one of the most effective ways to increase awareness and drive engagement.
A hashtag is essentially a way to organise and label content. They help users easily find images and videos relating to certain topics, events, communities and brands. Users can even stay up-to-date by following hashtags related to their interests.
Instagram allows users to include up to 30 hashtags per post, but that doesn't mean that creators should use their full allocation; in fact, if brands use too many hashtags it can appear spammy and deter people from engaging with their content.
Instagram statistics show that an average Instagram post contains as many as 10 hashtags, but recent research has revealed that engagement often decreases for posts containing six or more. This obviously won't be the case for all accounts but is something that brands should consider when selecting the right mix of high and low-density hashtags to include in their captions.
Brands should be including hashtags whenever they publish new content (and that includes Instagram Stories, too), taking the time to do some audience research to ensure chosen hashtags are those that their target audience is engaging with and following. It’s also important to mix up hashtags between posts to avoid fatigue, and this will also help to tap into new audiences. The easiest way to do this is by looking at the hashtags that followers, competitors, and like-minded influencers are using. A combination of relevant, brand-specific and niche hashtags will often help to maximise performance.
Brands wanting to appear on the Explore page should also consider the categories that appear beneath the search bar and how they can use topical hashtags to help get posts picked up by the algorithm.
Let's take a look a look at the different types of hashtags and how brands are using them effectively.
One of the most popular types of hashtag usage by brands is content creation. From #gannigirls and #humansofrixo to #thenetset and #guccigram, Instagram users love authenticity and seeing how fellow customers are styling their purchases. The #gannigirls tag features over 47k posts including those by Instagram favourites, Camille Charrière, Blanca Miro and Marjon Carlos. Not only do customer hashtags offer great exposure for brands, they also provide a wealth of user-generated content.
A brand hashtag can be something as simple as the business name or a brand-relevant tagline. This type of hashtag can also be used to organise and promote specific products much like the Burberry Lola Bag, the Givenchy Antigona Bag or the Loewe Balloon Bag, to name a few. Think of branded hashtags as a space where shoot imagery sits alongside UGC in a mini visual library, where followers can browse a brand's most coveted items in one, easy-to-view place. It's worth noting that this type of hashtag has a much longer lifespan than a campaign hashtag, which will often only last for a season, lacking new content beyond a certain point.
Campaign hashtags are designed for short-term use and often promote specific campaigns, product launches, initiatives and events. To celebrate the10th anniversary of their iconic Peekaboo bag, Fendi photographed a number of women and their families for the Me and My Peekaboo series. During the latest instalment, the brand enlisted the help of R&B duo Chloe x Halle. Posts featuring the women were accompanied by a range of hashtags including #meandmypeekaboo (campaign hashtag) #fendipeekaboo (brand hashtag) and #fendifamily (UGC hashtag).
Whether they're starting their own or participating in the latest viral trend, brands can utilise challenge hashtags to help promote their content and reach a wider audience. British Vogue launched a nature-focused #voguechallenge to promote its August 2020 issue. The challenge encouraged social media users to 'showcase their own favourite photographs of the natural world' with Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful sharing his favourites. And who could forget the #jacquemusathome challenge which saw Instagram users standing on their tiptoes whilst hovering over oranges, lemons and assortment of other household items in a bid to recreate the brand's Bahia heels? Not only are challenges an effective awareness-building exercise, but they also provide the perfect opportunity for brands to have fun and show their human side.
Words by Dan Flay