With companies like Twitter and Instagram setting the standard for common trends in digital marketing, we owe it to ourselves to stay on top of those trends at every opportunity. It’s been proven time and time again that social media posts perform so much better with hashtags than without them. That much cannot be argued, as we see this every time we scroll through social media; eyeballing that view count with the simmering tenacity of a hopeless ingenue.
As of 2021, the most effective way of boosting brand awareness for free, was the measured use of hashtags. Doing this will absolutely help increase visibility for your business – provided you take the time to understand how it works. Even now, there are still far too many small business owners and entrepreneurs out there who use hashtags incorrectly. What’s worse, is they won’t even bother to learn how.
Think about it. Do you fall into this category? Do you know what you’re doing when it comes to narrowing down the right hashtags for your business? Are you using free social media marketing to the best of your ability?
If this sounds like you? Then keep scrolling.
Table of Contents
- Consider Your Brand
- Do Your Research!
- Step 1: Understand What Your Followers See
- Step 2: Inspect Every Hashtag
- Step 3: Use Fewer Hashtags, and Don’t Forget to Alternate!
- Don’t Be Afraid to Take Action
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Hashtags: The Key to Boosting Brand Awareness
What does it mean to have “searchable” content? Obviously, anyone who looks up your business should be able to find your pictures and videos immediately – but it’s not quite so simple as that.
The whole point of posting content on Twitter and Instagram is to make new connections and spread the word. Posting compelling videos and pretty pictures will only get you so far these days. We’ve seen entrepreneurs invest in the best quality video ads. There’s nothing more disheartening than investing in some killer content, only for no one to see it. As full-time digital marketers, we want to save you from making such costly mistakes early on. Which begins which acknowledging where your business stands and what you need to do to help your team succeed.
Which leads us to our very first tip.
. . .
Consider Your Brand
Think about the words most commonly associated with your business. If you operate a small town grocery store, words like “fresh produce” and “healthy eating” might spring to mind. If you happen to own a gym, the words “fitness,” “gains,” and “personal trainer” might be used instead. When it comes to choosing keywords, it’s important to consider precisely which words are often associated with your business.
This is particularly important for business owners who have smaller followings on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. According to updates posted in 2021, an account is considered “small” by industry standards if it has less 100,000 followers. And while it’s true that there are services you can buy to increase that number overnight, professional marketers would highly advise against that. Remember: Your number of followers means NOTHING unless at least 10% of that number comes with active user engagement. This could come in the form of shares, comments, likes, etc.
If you do not currently have 100k+ followers following your account, then it’s time we did some research together. We want to help you find the best possible ways of improving your brand visibility for next to NO COST. Which is precisely what you’ll be doing when you affix the proper hashtags to your posts.
. . .
Do Your Research!
You can begin that journey with us right now by MAKING A LIST. There are several key components to finding those perfect hashtags, and it all starts with taking matters into your own hands.
Step 1: Understand What Your Followers See
I want you to start by making three distinctly separate lists. Grab your favorite pen and write the following words at the top of the page:
- You/Your Business
- Your Content
- Your Ideal Follower
Have you done it? Good! Now comes the hard part. Think of 20-30 words for each one of these topics.
WRITE THEM DOWN.
Once you have these very long lists of keywords, you’ll finally be ready for the next step. Take a moment to get a glass of water, because this is the part that will take the most time.
. . .
Step 2: Inspect Every Hashtag
Take your list of 60+ potential hashtags and look them up. Performing a monthly check on individual hashtags might sound a tad excruciating, but it has to be done. You want to have a good, long list of usable hashtags to draw from whenever you make a new post. You can do this entirely for FREE, since Instagram’s built-in search function was designed for anyone and everyone in mind.
No that you know where to search, there are a few things you’ll need to look out for. Little things that the untrained eye might not see as red flags… but they could ruin your chances of success faster than anything.
(a) Check for Banned Hashtags
Wait. Banned? Instagram can “ban” their hashtags? The answer to that is a resounding YES. Nobody wants to think about this, but the Instagram admin team has admitted to banning certain hashtags without warning. They don’t have to inform anyone they’ve done it either. This is why it’s important to keep up – which is precisely what you’d be doing by personally updating your hashtag lists every month.
(b) Choose Less Popular “Niche” Hashtags
The last thing you want is to choose a bunch of clever words that suit your company perfectly… only to find that NONE of them work as hashtags. This will turn out to be the case when you fail to update that list of yours… but no worries there! This happens with every new business owner we’ve advised over the years, so rest assured that you’re not alone.
When you look up each of these terms, please be sure to avoid the following categories:
- Not popular enough.
- So popular, your content will be get easily lost in the noise.
How do we determine the popularity of a hashtag? Well, when you type a keyword into Instagram’s Search, you’ll see a little number pop up beside it. This number tells you precisely how big (or small) the following for that hashtag happens to be.
So when you’ve begun your research, we recommend you keep the following notes in mind:
- 0-100K = a SMALL Following
- 100K-500K = a MEDIUM Following
- 500K-1M = a LARGE Following
Choose the less popular “niche” hashtags. Avoid overusing the hashtags that fall into the “Large” category, and opt instead for the Medium-Small range. The purpose behind this is to no such thing as one perfect word that’ll forever send new followers your way. In fact, the process of finding those perfect hashtags will very likely change over time.
You’ll need to remain vigilant concerning which words you choose, and when.
Which leads us to the next part.
. . .
Step 3: Use Fewer Hashtags, and Don’t Forget to Alternate!
When you finally have a solid list of 60+ hashtags to choose from, you can finally start editing your content! Start with the posts that have already done pretty well on your page, and swap out the hashtags. You’ll want to get rid on all those “banned” ones as soon as possible so the algorithm won’t be able to suppress them moving forward.
You may be wondering? Do I have to change the hashtags on every post I’ve ever made? While it would certianly be ideal to stay on top of such things so succinctly, the fact of the matter is that really won’t matter in the long run. It’s certainly a good idea to delete or archive your oldest, lowest performing content in time – but that is for you to determine as your business continues to grow with the times.
No matter what tactics you choose to implement this month, start with one and stick to it. Set yourself a monthly reminder to personally get the hang of researching those hashtags yourself! If you happen to have a social media manager on staff, you could always hand that job over to them.
However, as fellow entrepreneurs, we highly recommend that you give it a go at least once.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Action
Don’t be afraid to test it for yourself! Familiarizing with everyday social media can be truly intimidating sometimes, but nothing compares to that incredible moment when we look at something, and suddenly understand.
Only YOU can determine precisely which words describe your business best. Only YOU know what your “ideal customer” even looks like. Don’t be afraid to start small. Keep it simple, and DO YOUR RESEARCH before throwing around untested hashtags.
It could take MONTHS for your business accounts to show significant growth. Longer, if you want to push it beyond 100K. However, with the right words, and your careful attention to detail – you’ll be on the right path in no time.