How to not make a hash of hashtags on Instagram

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#SmallBusiness #Entrepreneur #Mystifying?

If you’ve delved into the world of social media you’ll have come across hashtags.

First invented by Twitter users as way of categorising and searching for information, the hashtag has since colonised Instagram where a bewildering array of hashtags is currently in use.

Hashtags are no longer just functional. They can be creative, comedic and even poetic.

Get a hashtag right and your business or idea could go viral like last year’s #icebucketchallenge but get it wrong and you just look like a social media amateur.

Yesterday SmartCompany outlined the best tips and tricks for using Instagram from four entrepreneurs who are thriving on the social media network and today we’ve asked them just how to use hashtags.

Frank Body: @frank_bod has 660,000 followers and @frankfeedback has 71,500 followers

The hashtag #thefrankeffect has been integral to the success of Frank Body’s business according to co-founder Jess Hatzis.

Hatzis says the process of launching the @frank_bod account involved taking a “360 degrees approach”.

Every piece of marketing material the business produced encouraged people to interact with the Instagram account, including flyers sent out with each packet of the body scrub that encourage customers to post selfies with the hashtag #thefrankeffect.

“We couldn’t just put up the account and hope for the best,” Hatzis told SmartCompany.

Now if you search on Instagram you can find more than 80,000 photos found under #thefrankeffect.

While Hatzis says Instagram is “much more crowded than it was two years ago”, she says it’s still possible for brands to stand out and one way to do this is creating a hashtag that “makes sense for your brand”.

She says if you want your customers to share their experience with your products, the hashtag has to “feel natural and easy” for the customer to add to their own photos.

Frank Body regularly uses #thefrankeffect and #letsbefrank with Instagram posts, both of which fit squarely with the tone of the brand’s website and other communication.

Hatzis says this was another decision that was made early on in the business’s development: to personalise everything and talk in an “honest way”.

But Hatzis warns against using too many hashtags and giving followers the feeling “they are being sold to”.

Light My Fire Melbourne: @lightmyfiremelboune has 10,400 followers

Melbourne-based Natalie Carter is not a big hashtag user for her homemade candle business, Light My Fire Melbourne.

Carter says she “barely” uses hashtags on her Instagram posts, although she may make an exception for a special event, such as the popular Finders Keepers markets, which she participated in for the first time in June.

But Carter does recommend those starting out on Instagram to use a handful of hashtags to help people find their accounts. Using hashtags for place names or even creating a hashtag for the business can be helpful, she says.

“But don’t go crazy. People don’t want to comment if there are too many hashtags,” she says.

Capi Sparkling: @capisparkling has 4118 followers

Founded in 2010 by Pitzy Folk, former Smart50 finalist Capi Sparkling, which turned over more than $3 million last year, has more than 4000 followers on Instagram.

Capi Sparkling brand manager Jordyn Evans says hashtags are important, but should be used in moderation.

In keeping with Capi’s ‘premium image’, Evans says any more than three or four is too many. Most of the brand’s posts on Instagram will usually include either #capisparkling or #crackacapi.

Robert Gordon: @robertgordonaustralia has 21,200 followers

Pottery business Robert Gordon Australia is a relative newcomer to Instagram having used the social media network for two years.

Product manager Kate Gordon is in charge of the account and does add hashtags to her posts but Gordon told SmartCompany she is picky about what words she uses.

Gordon often adds #australianmade to her posts, saying it is one term that works particularly well, along with #pretty or #pottery.

She also uses the Robert Gordon name as a hashtag or the name of a particular product range. 


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