Use Instagram hashtags in influencer marketing

1. Define the goals of your Instagram hashtag campaign by considering the intended purpose and audience.

Here are some example goals: Run a contest or giveaway. Expand your ambassador program. Reach a new or adjacent audience. Increase overall reach. Run a campaign. Advertise a new product launch. Improve consistency among your influencers. Inspire user-generated content.

2. Conduct hashtag research by using online research tools to search hashtag metrics and related hashtags.

Hashtag research is similar to keyword research where you search keyword ideas to reveal their metrics, related terms, and how they are being used. Use a Instagram hashtag research tool like Display Purposes, Hashtagify, Hashtag Expert for IG, Hashtag Scout, or Seekmetrics.  Search a range of hashtag categories, including general, niche, brand, high-density, and low density. To keep track of research, it is useful to create a spreadsheet with categories such as Hashtag, Category, Daily Volume, Monthly Volume, and Description.

3. Choose hashtags from different categories that you want to use based on your research, goals, and influencers.

Here are some examples and benefits for different hashtag categories: Content: Reflects what is in the image, like #sunset or #cat, and reaches a wide, general audience. Industry: Broad words associated with your industry, like #maternityphotography, that can target a diverse audience within an industry. Niche: Language specific to your target audience, like #momlife or #denvercafes, that can reach your specific audience and show brand personality. Branded: Original hashtags created by your brand, like #danielwellington or #BenefitAmbassador, for brand-specific advertising, brand awareness, and consistency for your campaign, contest, giveaway, challenge, or program. You will have to create hashtags in this category yourself. Thirty is the maximum hashtag number for an Instagram caption. Some people recommend taking advantage of all 30 by adding a comment with hashtags, but most people recommend a smaller amount of between one and five hashtags that describe your post or focus on your industry.

4. Create branded hashtags and check your existing hashtags for best practices.

Your branded hashtag may just be your company name, product name, or slogan. For example, Nike uses their slogan #justdoit for its campaigns. Another option is to create a catchy phrase, like Lululemon’s #TheSweatLife or Target’s #TargetRun. When creating hashtags: Consider using capital letters if there are multiple words to increase legibility. Do not put punctuation or spaces within your hashtags, or they will not show up as hashtags. Keep them short, under 25 characters maximum, to avoid misspellings that prevent the hashtag from reaching the right audience. Search the hashtag first to make sure it’s not being used in another context. Check that the hashtag can’t be misread to seem like another term.

5. Send hashtags and instructions to your influencers to help them reflect your campaign goals in their posts.

For example, Subaru was able to use a range of influencers to reach a huge audience with their #MeetanOwner campaign, by having their influencers each have a caption that fits their specific audience. Harmless Harvest reached multiple audiences, from moms to healthy food enthusiasts, by using diverse influencers for a #HarmlessHitsDifferent campaign to promote their new yogurt. Your instructions may include: Details about your hashtag campaign. What time and day to post. How many posts are required and which hashtags and captions go with each post. Guidelines for coinciding images, like to feature a specific product or reflect a summer setting. Instructions for posting on Twitter or Facebook to expand your reach further because hashtags transfer over to these other platforms. A reminder that sponsorship disclosure is required.

6. Interact with the hashtag campaign and your influencers through your brand Instagram account.

Comment on your influencer’s posts, responding to the content or giving a word of thanks. You can also create a post for your brand’s Instagram page to introduce the campaign, provide more information, or increase consistency over branding.

7. Track hashtag metrics and measure effectiveness by comparing to your past Instagram metrics and goals.

Use your Instagram analytics and online tools, like Hootsuite, Instagram Insights, or Sprout Social, to track metrics and gauge audience perception of your hashtag influencer campaign.  Pay attention to hashtag volume and engagement on your influencer’s posts. Click on a specific hashtag to see what others are posting with that hashtag. Make note of what worked and what didn’t, so that you can continue to experiment with hashtags for influencer marketing over more campaigns.