Instagram's Hashtag Follow Feature5 Tips for Small Business to Increase Their Brand Awareness
Instagram’s New Hashtag Follow Feature
Instagram has always been a social network to share beautiful photos with friends, colleagues, and the entire world for that matter. Between likes, shares, and comments, users have had the ability to follow their favorite user profiles and businesses to stay up-to-date on the profiles they care about most. It has been a phenomenal platform for regular people to rise up as influencers in areas that they’re passionate about.
Up until now, the only way to check on new posts for specific was to either click through on a post or by using Instagram’s search feature. Thankfully, Instagram unveiled the new hashtag follow feature yesterday, which allows you to follow individual hashtags just like you follow your friends and family.
Instagram utilizes a sophisticated algorithm to organize your newsfeed with new posts from the people you follow and will now incorporate posts when you follow hashtags as well. This provides new opportunities for users and businesses alike to get their content in-front of fresh faces on a daily basis.
5 Tips for Using the Instagram Hashtag Follow Feature
We’re going to cover how small local businesses can maximize this new feature on Instagram’s social network to increase their following while encouraging engagement.
- Doing Hashtag Research
- Follow Your Hashtags Influencers
- Brand Your Business with a Hashtage
- Follow Local Hashtags
- Using Hashtags Related to Your Business
1. Do Hashtag Research
Before you start hash-tagging everything under the sun, its best to do hashtag research for your specific industry. Depending on your post, your industry may have specific hashtags that are utilized which would be most appropriate for your post.
It is a good tactic to know exactly which hashtags are functioning well in your industry and are receiving the most engagement. Hashtagify offers a great freemium software to research how hashtags perform on Instagram as well as Twitter.
Pull up an excel document or use Google Sheets to record your research and find which hashtags perform the best for your businesses industry.
Along with researching industry related hashtags, it’s also a great idea to research what hashtags your competitors are utilizing and the engagement they’re receiving. This allows you to assess what hashtags are working well for your competitors so you can determine whether or not you want to target the same hashtags. If not, you can use Instagram’s search function to find related hashtags by typing in the hashtag your competitor is using and directly underneath the search bar, Instagram will recommend hashtags that are closely related.
Once you’ve compiled your list of hashtags to use in your posts, be sure to follow them so you can stay up-to-date on how other users are using those hashtags. You may also want to follow the hashtags your competitors are using to monitor their engagement; you may find an opportunity to enter that hashtag stream in the future.
2. Follow Your Hashtags Influencers
With the new hashtag follow feature, you’ll receive consistent updates of new posts for a hashtag. It is a great idea to see which users are using those hashtags and have a large following with them.
I strongly recommend that you follow the users who have a large audience with high performing (a lot of engagement – comments, likes, etc.) posts and consistently post to the same hashtags you are. Establish a connection with these users and consistently interact with their posts so they get to know you.
Once you’re able to establish a relationship with that user, you can reach out to them and encourage them to become an advocate for your business/brand. Some influencers will share advocate for brands/businesses on their own while others have to be persuaded to do so (discounts, affiliate commissions, etc.). Determine the best approach for your business when negotiating deals with influencers in your industry.
Be aware: you should not pay influencers who are also advocating for your direct competitors and/or a bunch of other companies. If you pick up on their account focusing only on affiliations, their following will as well. Influencer’s who are authentic are the best option for small businesses. This means they post about more than just other brands and they write meaningful captions in their descriptions. You can tell that they truly want to engage with their network instead of trying to make a sale.
3. Brand Your Business with a Hashtag
Brand awareness is everything to businesses. For instance, people commonly use Google as a verb. Coke has long been used to order a beverage, whether or not it was indeed the brand “Coke”.
A great way to establish brand awareness for your company is through the use of a hashtag or combination of hashtags (do not go overboard – keep it to 1 to 3 max). Initially, you probably won’t see others using your hashtag anytime soon. However, as you start gaining traction, your followers may start gaining an interest in your brand and begin using your hashtag in their posts. This is a great tactic for word-of-mouth marketing.
Commonly used hashtags for brands could be you businesses name (or a short variation of it if you have a long business name like “#HarrysTireandAutomotiveService” would be a long hashtag – “#HarrysTire” would be a better variant), your slogan (think Nike – #JustDoIt has a large audience), or a hashtag you create for a contest you’re running.
Be sure to follow your branded hashtags to monitor how users are interacting with your brand and measure your engagement. You’ll definitely want to comment, like, and interact with users who are using your brands hashtag.
4. Follow Local Hashtags
Small businesses have a large following on social networks – specifically Instagram. People naturally want to engage and interact with those in their communities. Local Hashtags are a great way for people to accomplish this.
Through your hashtag research, you should document any findings of locally related hashtags to your business. For instance, if #houston and #texas are both popular hashtags utilized on Twitter and Instagram.
By using local hashtags, you’re capable of generating brand awareness by those in your local communities. Local hashtags are phenomenal resources for small businesses to to interact with and engage consumers in the local markets. Follow your local hashtags today and become an influencer within your local community.
If there isn’t a local hashtag for your community, consider starting one. Remember, it’s marketing is a marathon not a sprint. If you start one now, you’ll have a prime opportunity to grow that hashtag around your business and in several months’ time, you’ll most certainly be an influencer for your local hashtag.
5. Use Hashtags Related to Your Business
As you gain success with your current hashtags, it is always a great idea to keep an eye on other hashtags that are related to your business. Are they trending? Are users engaging well with a specific hashtag that you’re not using? If so, you may want to consider incorporating those hashtags in your future posts.
The new hashtag follow feature on Instagram facilitates the ability to track and engage with endless hashtags. With that said, different hashtags trend at different times; therefore, you’ll want to keep an eye on posts that use related hashtags so you can capitalize on an opportunity when it presents itself.
Using Instagram is a phenomenal outlet to increase your brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and increase engagements with your target audience. With the hashtag follow feature, you can stay current on the newest trends in your industry as well as maximizing your engagement and outreach.
Lastly, do not forget, digital marketing is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time to cultivate relationships and build a strong brand that people recognize. Do not get discouraged if you’re not seeing the results that you were hoping for immediately. It’s extremely important to remain consistent with producing high quality content while continuing to be authentic to your target audience.
Follow us on Instagram to check out what we’re up to. Use the hashtag #CreateYourOwnLuck today on your next motivational/entrepreneurial post! For more information on social media marketing, reach out to us at Luckless Digital.