Imagine that Instagram is a luxury hotel that is full of guests. Your clinic's Instagram profile is just one of millions of rooms somewhere up on the fifty thousandth floor. Some friends may stop by from time to time, but other than that, there really is't much going down.
So where do you go to meet new people or new patients/clients?
Like most awesome hotels, Instagram has many common areas such as cafes, restaurants, dog parks, and ball rooms. But on Instagram, these are call hashtags. There's a hashtag for every mood, topic, interest, emotion, etc that you can think of. So it's easy to find the people that you're looking for, you just need to utilize the correct hashtags.
With the correct hashtag strategy, you will use the perfect tag for each post and in tern reaching the perfect audience for your content. These people will be your ideal patient or client, driving your business goals. Not 100% clear on how to do this? Lucky for you, we've create a 5 step strategy guide to help you through it.
Step 1 - What Are Your Goals?
Define Your Objectives
Instagram For Business says this about choosing hashtags:
"When developing content we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags. Having a growth strategy that targets the right audience is essential to success on Instagram."
This is sound advice from a marketing perspective. If you cast your net too wide and go after everyone, you probably won't be successful. But if you are hyper targeted, you win by reaching the right people with the right message.
Are your business objectives to reach new patients or clients? Or do you just want to engage with existing people? This answer will help define your hashtag strategy. Research shows that using 9 hashtags or more is the most effective, performing 2.5x better than posts using just one.
Business Objectives That Benefit:
- You want to grow your Instagram following
- You want to grow traffic to your website
- You want to reach new customers
If any of these are you, you want to pay close attention. This means that you are looking to get people to take action, such as following you, clicking your website, or anything else in their journey to become one of your customers.
You aren't just looking for anyone (yes this includes you Ms. or Mr, General Practice), you can't just target anyone. You need to be looking for specific people.
Step 2 - Who Is Your Customer?
You probably, or should, know who you're looking for, either by instinct, or because you speak in detail with your current customers everyday. Maybe you've even done some research on buyer personas (props if you have!)
The time is now to use that knowledge to grow your business! Think back to that giant hotel and think about those common spaces - where do your people hang out?
Hashtag Brainstorming 101
"Hashtag brainstorming is probably best illustrated with an example: If you make men’s denim jeans for male skateboarders the first words that come to mind as you think about ways your customers might categorize your products might be “jeans” and “denim”. Both of these are very popular hashtags.
There have been nearly 15 million posts posted to #jeans in the past, and nearly 10 million to #denim. They’re great words to start with, but they’re so obvious that they’r. e overused, and overused hashtags get posted to thousands of times a day, so your content quickly gets buried, and not just buried, but buried by a lot of poor quality posts that make browsing the hashtag not very enjoyable for people.
If we were to assume that #jeans has received the same frequency of usage since Instagram started supporting hashtags in January 2011 then that single hashtag gets used 6,183 times a day. To go back to the hotel analogy, these hashtags are in the busy lobby – there are so many people down there that nobody can hear you speak."
So how do you get beyond overused hashtags and stand out?
Try brainstorming within categories. The follow can be a great start for you:
1. Media: What media do they consume?
2. Problems: What problems does your service solve?
3. Interests: What interests are your target customers interested in?
4. Brands: What non-competing brands do your customers love?
5. Geography: What locations are your customers located within?
"Here are some brainstormed terms from our example maker of men’s skater jeans.
Interests: Men’s fashion
Brand Affinities: Vans
Problems: How do I put together an outfit?"
So now it's time to turn these into actual hashtags.
Instagram's Search Bar
Instagram has a powerful feature that autocompletes hashtags for you. For example, say I wanted to help chiropractors. I would type "chiro" and it will fill out all the available hashtags and it even shows how popular each tag is. Chiro being the root term.
We recommend digging deeper. Utilize less used hashtags and get really targeted.
For example, instead of "chiropractor", maybe I'll use "chiropracticadjustment" (we'll actually use both). This hashtag only has a couple thousand people using it, instead of tens of thousands, allowing you to reach a smaller, more target audience.
Research shows that longer hashtags get better engagement than shorter ones. This is because these audiences are smaller and more engaged than your generic hashtags such as 'health', 'wellness', etc.
Step 3 - Testing Hashtags
You cannot just blindly use hashtags that relate to your field and hope for the best. We see this far too often. It may be getting you a few likes, but is it getting you actual results? Are your business objectives being met? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the hashtag spammy?
2, Can you post actually be competitive with the hashtag?
3. Does your post fit with the hashtag?
4. Does it appeal to your target customers?
5. Does the hashtag have unintended connotations?
6. How many posts are already using this hashtag?
7. How much engagement are the posts already using it getting?
Step 4 - Using Hashtags Correctly
Ok, so you've come up with great hashtags. Now what?
How many should you use? Well, research shows you want to use at least 9. So use between 9 and the maximum amount allowed, which is 30. Use more when you are just getting started and as you grow your follower base, you can start to use less.
How should you divide up your hashtag types?
2-4 Super Popular Hashtags - These will give your post some momentum, These will often already have millions of posts and you will be gone from the top posts within a minute. This is in the "you never know" category.
7-25 Somewhat Popular Hashtags - Most of your hashtags should be in this moderate range. This is your sweet spot, where you can garner the most attention. These are popular, but not too popular that you will be lost from the top posts right away. This means that a fair amount of people have a fair chance to find your post.
2-3 Very Niche Hashtags - These are hashtags that have very, very low usage rates. They are hyper targeted, thus can be very powerful when used correctly.
Where do you put your hashtags? You can put them in your post, even dividing them from your copy with "_"'s or some other character. Or you can keep things clean and put them as your first comment. If you choose this route, be very quick. Instagram's algorithm only allows a short period of time for the first comment's hashtags to be tied to your post.
Which steps have you already tried?