Brand awareness and loyalty

Using The Right Instagram Hashtags for Small Businesses

  • 10 Minutes
Hashtags are an easy, free, and quick way for your business to get found on Instagram. Here's how to use them in your future posts.

Your business is still in its infant stage and you face a great dilemma; how to market it with the limited resources you have. No need to fret; the good news is that a simple internet tool can yield good results. It is the proper use of Instagram hashtags.

Hashtags marketing is obviously the proven way to drive organic traffic to your business. Your company’s profile easily stands out and puts you on the radar of your customers who are actively searching for products and services you offer.

So in essence, what is an Instagram hashtag? It is a word, phrase, or number preceded by the symbol #. Despite this simple description, the hashtag carries so much weight when it comes to gaining the relevant exposure to your business. Instagram hashtags easily enable a person to discover posts that have been tagged with it. Let’s face it; small businesses typically have to work twice as hard to get the recognition established brands enjoy. However, with the right strategy, an Instagram hashtag can make your business be quickly seen by others.

By making your brand more discoverable on Instagram, you have a better chance of attracting new followers and expose yourself to large and targeted audiences. Posts that have been tagged with a hashtag encourage more engagement, thus it gets easier to get better acquainted with your followers. So here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of hashtags, and how you can use Sked Social (formerly Schedugram) to make managing and using hashtags easy.

4 Tips to finding the right hashtags for small business owners 

Many people will first do their research via hashtag searches before spending their cash on local places. These are often small business offering various services and products. In order to increase the visibility of your small business, check out these tips:

  • Check out what hashtags your competitors are using; people in a similar business to yours have a better understanding of your target audience, so why not learn from the best? You might decide to search for alternative hashtags or find clues to add to your repertoire of hashtags.
  • Consider related hashtags; just by spending a few moments browsing through phrases that have proved successful can make you see what to include in future posts.
  • Use Instagram search function; the Instagram search bar can be a useful tool. Just type in a keyword and you will immediately see a list of hashtags containing that keyword and various posts tagged with it. A large number may mean either two things; more people are following that hashtag or your post could get buried in a ton of content. The latter option is not such a good idea so experiment first with niche hashtags.
  • Match hashtags with the right photo; the caption you are using should be relevant to the hashtag you are posting to. The image has a strong pull on the users. A video would have an even more active feel.

Branded Hashtags

These are hashtags that contain your brand name and are specific to your business. 70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded. The main advantage of branded hashtags is that they can be tied directly back to your company. This makes it easier for you to gauge how successful or popular your brand is on Instagram using the various social media monitoring tools.

Access to user generated content is another benefit. Your followers can post videos and photos on Instagram as they mention your product or service. You then go through these posts and pick some of the best captions and videos to post into your own feed. In essence, your customers promote your business for you.

Don’t forget you can also use Sked Social to put your branded hashtags in the first comment of your posts to directly engage with your audience.

Industry Specific Hashtags

The advantage of small business is that the hashtags can work across every industry. You do not have to be in a trendy business. Implement tags that are specific to what you do and watch the relevant customers flock to your business.

Here is a list to give you ideas. Remember to search for a hashtag first as it may be already in use in a matter not consistent with your business.

  1. Fitness hashtags: #health, #healthy lifestyle, #fitnessmom, #workoutwednesday, #motivation, #fitnessmotivation, #getfit
  2. Spa/ beauty: #skincare, #spatreatment, #massagebody, #treatyourselfday,
  3. Tutoring hashtags: #homeschooling, #ACTtest, #practisesession, #lovetoteach, #homeschooling, #learningpartner
  4. Wedding planner: #instagrambrides, #tietheknot, #weddingplanner, #justmarried, #engaged, #bouquetsofinstagram.

It’s also important to be as specific as possible on the location of your business as far as the location of your business is concerned. A hashtag such as #bridalgowns might have numerous uses in other people’s posts than #denverbridalgowns. The more a hashtag is used by others, the harder it is for your small business to be identified using it. At the same time, you want to be balanced and avoid choosing hashtags with little traffic. Include at least a phrase which people are likely searching.

Don’t be afraid to beep your own horn. If you are an exceptional business owner (dealing with something that is not common), you are in a prime position to spotlight those special attributes.

Monitor What’s Working

Are you aware of which Instagram posts get the most engagement? Which hashtags perform the best? All this information can be found using the Instagram analytics tool from a single dashboard. Posts with at least 1 Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than those without. That being said, there is a valid reason to find, follow and interact with your customers.

Look for people who are following business similar to yours. Interact with those people; comment on their videos or send them direct messages. Be genuine and ensure your comments are tailored to fit the content. Otherwise, you might be marked as a spammer and hurt your brand. If you include more than 15 hashtags every time you post something, you appear desperate and blatant. Stick to 3 to 5 hashtags per post.

Instagram Hashtag Research

There are some amazing tools out there to help you increase your reach quickly. The research process can be a long and tedious one, especially if your business faces stiff competition. These tools speed up this process so that you have enough time to connect with the audience. The 3 main tools are :

  1. Hashtagify
  2. Sproutsocial
  3. Keyhole

Hashtagify is a free tool that can be used by small business owners to create branded hashtags. You enter in a term and see what are the commonly used hashtags associated with that name. What’s more, you also get to see the popularity of these terms. Hashtagify can help you come up with creative hashtags for your brand and increase visibility.

Sproutsocial also has incredible hashtag research features. You can effortlessly monitor how your branded hashtags are faring on Instagram, including topics frequently mentioned by you and their performance. Sproutsocial allows you to track specific results.

Keyhole offers insight into details such as the number of public post the hashtag has been used in and the number of users who have publicly used the hashtag. You can also see a record of how many impressions the hashtag has reached.  Keyhole is a research tool that can even show you the dates when the top posts associated with certain hashtags were used most often. This info is vital in assisting you to determine how much attention your hashtags can get. You also get ideas on new hashtags to use by looking at the ones users are adding to the posts.

New Printable: Q2 Instagram Hashtag Holidays

Print out this monthly calendar and never miss out on celebrating a social media holiday again. 

Instagram Hashtag Best Practices

  • Use local/geographic hashtags; local businesses usually have the locals in mind when advertising their products and services. A hashtag like #Orlandowines can get your content stand out even in an engaged audience. Customers can easily find directions to your business location just by clicking on your profile.
  • Use your branded hashtags in each post; this is a great way to promote user generated content. It is also a smart way to interact and familiarize yourself with your customers.
  • Avoid reusing the same hashtags; one of the biggest Instagram hashtag mistakes is to constantly use the same hashtags. if you keep on repeating the same hashtags with no variety, you might end up annoying your audience with non-essential hashtags. Switch them up with a mix of other hashtags to connect with new users.
  • Research first; the English language can have phrases that have overlapping meanings. Since you want to reach the right audience, check for double meanings in the hashtags you have created. Some hashtags can have offensive even controversial associations. Thus, instead of making your business stand out, your content simply gets drowned in unnecessary drama.

Keeping Your Hashtags Organised with Sked Social

Sked Social’s hashtag Template Manager is the perfect tool to store your hashtags so you don’t have to remember them or type them out manually every time you want to use them in a post. You can add up to 30 of them in your caption and/or the first comment of your posts while you’re scheduling them to post automatically.

To get started, simply log in to your Sked Social account and click on Template Manager in the sidebar menu (see below).

Sked Social's Hashtage Template Manager

To create a new set of hashtags, click the blue Create new template button in the top right corner. Give it a name and add your hashtags. Be sure to click the blue Save button in the bottom right corner.

Sked Social's hashtag template editor

Now when you’re creating new posts, you can easily add your templates to your caption or in the first comment. You can use a keyboard shortcut typing // to see your templates or click the template button (green arrow).

Each time you use the template, we’ll mix up the order of the hashtags too. All you have to do then is queue or schedule your post to publish automatically, and you’re done.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to the Instagram platform business of all levels can thrive. It is a powerful tool in yielding high engagement and profile visibility. With the right hashtag strategy, you can reach the right audience while building your brand. You don’t have to be a big corporation to reap the benefits of IG, even small business are still rocking their game on this platform.

What do you think? Which Instagram hashtag strategies have you had success with among those mentioned on this post? Do you have other ideas? Feel free to post your comments below.

If you’re looking to carve out hours in your social media workflow, sign up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week.

About the author

Flora Ojow is a freelance writer who loves marketing, social media and psychology.

Photo of Kyra GoodmanKyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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