How to Use Branded Hashtags Effectively

November 14, 2016

Branded hashtags can help you with content creation on Instagram

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What’s This?

Branded hasthags are awesome. They help you establish your business, track people talking about your brand, and they help you create an army of brand advocates. But this only happens if you know how to use branded hashtags effectively. If you have started using Instagram, no matter how small your brand is, it is a good idea to create a branded hashtag. Today, we’ll discuss the basics on branded hashtags, how to create them, and how to use them to help you get an ROI from all your gorgeous Instagram posts.

What is an Instagram Hashtag?

First, we need to discuss a regular hashtag. A hashtag is how your images will be found on Instagram. Imagine that you are posting an image about bridal gowns. You need to think about what key terms people may use when searching for images such as these. #bridalgown and #wedding would be a good place to start. When someone comes on Instagram and puts in the term #bridalgown under hashtag search, there is a possibility that your image will come up on search.

The issue here is that many people will post pictures of #bridalgown/s and this means that the more content that is being created, the quicker you get pushed down the feed losing chances of people seeing your image.

That being said, having no hashtags makes it almost impossible for new people to discover your images and in turn your business or brand. Studies show that posts with even just one hashtag get almost 13% more engagement than those without.

Different Types of Hashtags

GEOtag: This one is incredibly important for local businesses. These tags can be #city #neighborhood or #country.

Industry tag: These hashtags are made to attract viewers who are interested in your particular industry. A few examples of Industry hashtags are #SocialMedia #Bridal #Travel

Follow tag: These are the least effective because they may grow you a following, but it is not a targeted following. Examples of follow tags are #Follow4Follow #Like4Like

RELATED ARTICLE: Instagram Hashtag Directory

What is a branded Instagram hashtag?

Branded hashtags are powerful on Instagram

Branded hashtags are created to be unique to a brand or business.

A branded hashtag should be unique to you and your business. As shown in the example above, it can be the name of your brand or business (#Nordstrom), a tagline (#HumansOfNewYork #JustDoIt), or the name of a campaign or contest (#CognacManiacs – for the BNIC in the Cognac Region). These hashtags need to relate to your brand and its identity. One example I love is #FodorsOnTheGo. It includes the brand but makes it a bit more fun. As of today, there are over 78k images tagged with this from all different travel accounts.

How to Create Your Branded Instagram Hashtag

To get your branded hashtag to work you need to tell the community

You’re probably worried that your brand is too new, too unknown, or that you will pick the wrong hashtag for your campaign. Take a second, grab a pad and make notes. We’ll walk you through the process of creating your branded hashtag:

1.Don’t over complicate things

Simple is always good. Ideally, your hashtag should be short, easy to spell and remember. Take Plated as an example. They could have gone with #recipedeliveryservice, but isn’t #platedpics so much easier to remember. It also sort of includes a call to action prompting you to take pictures.

2. Be Creative

Coca Cola is always a good example for marketing ideas. Their #shareacoke promotion generated over 680k posts. Yes, I know you’re not Coke, but you can get your audience to create a healthy number of pieces of content using your hashtag. Heck, our branded hashtag #Socialdraft has over 2k Instagram posts as of today and we’ve only created 370 pieces of content.

3. Do your research 

The idea of branding is to get people to think of you and only you. Before choosing a branded hashtag, go on Instagram and check to see if it is being used, how often it is being used, and how it is being used. You don’t want a tag that is already associated with your competitor, or a tag that has been used trillions of times (you’ll be buried in the newsfeed), and you don’t want a hashtag that has a negative connotation.

4. Check your spelling

GaryVee is a HUGE one for me on this. When he got started, he branded himself as GaryVee, not #garyvaynerchuck. While everyone knows his name now, when he first got started, it would have been difficult for people to remember his name. The lesson here is to keep the spelling simple and to skip double letters – it makes it too easy for people to make spelling mistakes and mess up your entire hashtag strategy.

5. Make it Easy to Remember

Kate Spade really killed this one. Their #Misadventure hashtag has lasted past their first campaign. It’s sassy, unusual, and speaks to the aspirations of their audience.

How to get an ROI from your Branded Hashtags

You’ve created the hashtag. You also wrote a blog post and shared this hashtag all over your social media and newsletters. You also added it to your Instagram profile so people understand that this is your hashtag and that they should use it. This is not enough. If you are at a physical location, use it in all your marketing materials, add it to your email signature, and spread it all over your store. Check out this post on how to promote your social media online for more ideas. And watch the video above to learn how Socialdraft can help you and your team manage and schedule to multiple Instagram accounts on the social media calendar.

Now that you’re set with all the basics on Instagram branded hashtags, let’s get down on how to use them.

1. Use Branded Hashtags to Help with Content Creation & Curation

Branded hashtags are a great way to get your customers to create social media content for you

Branded hashtags are awesome if you have a hard time finding content. It’s basically a way to outsource content for free. The BNIC, the French arm of the government in charge of marketing Cognac in the USA created a branded hashtag campaign to grow their account. The hashtag, #CognacManiacs was promoted to their community to get them to share images of cocktails prepared with Cognac. The organization then reposted their favorite images. This meant not hiring a photographer to take images. It also served to create content that both educated people on how to use the product and got people involved and wanting to get reposted. This is incredibly easy with Socialdraft’s repost tool (it lets you repost not only to Instagram, but to Facebook Pages & Groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

2. Grow Your Audience

You can use the Socialdraft dashboard to like posts by people on Instagram

Take a few to check out your branded hashtag on search. Those people who are talking about your brand need to be engaged. Take a few seconds to follow them, like a post, and comment. This will tell your audience that you care and build them into loyal customers.

3. Promote Events

Branded hashtags are a great way to share in real time what is going on at an event

Events are a great time for a temporary branded hashtag. You can build excitement before and event, and if you educate your audience you can create an almost never ending stream of buzz around your event. Take the Web Summit. Each year there is a custom tag with the year attached. #WebSummit2017 will be next year’s tag. This year, 40,000 people attended the event. Attendees crafted over 12,000 images just on Instagram. This is a 40,000 people army of advertising. Even if your event is significantly smaller, you have much to earn from a branded event hashtag. Just remember to make those branded event hashtags short, sweet, easy to remember and shareable.

4. Promote Products

New products can enjoy a visibility boost from branded hashtags

Got a hot new product? Create a custom hashtag and train your community to tag their posts. Each post tagged with your custom hashtag is an advertisement to their entire Instagram circle (especially now that shoppable posts are coming).

5. Run Contests

How to use branded hashtags on Instagram contests

One of our favorite examples of a well executed branded hashtag campaign is that of Plated. Their custom hashtag is #platedpics and they are very smart about educating their community on how to use it. It is advertised on packaging, adverts, and even in contests. When the recipe delivery company runs a contest, they make it mandatory that their community both tag @plated and hashthag their images #platedpics. The winners get reposted to the official account, and they get 4 free meals.

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