Rock Rose Digital, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.


Rock Rose Digital blog

Here you’ll find my musings about all things social media, building a brand, female empowerment and everything in-between. Expect plenty of tips, myth-debunking, client case studies and personal insights into my very own business journey.

The Hashtag Hustle

In our last technical blog 2 weeks ago, we said we'd be back to chat about the hazy world of hashtags - so here we are!

Hashtag hustle for a brand is crucial. It is a means to connect with your relevant audience, tap into that community, increase your reach and make your posts and brand discoverable. Just the use of 1 carefully chosen hashtag can increase a post's engagement by as much as 12%. Using the right hashtags in the right place can hugely boost a business. Using the wrong hashtags at the wrong time or place and you could look like you're dad-dancing. 

You'll see them being used far and wide across all social media platforms, websites, and even TV shows encouraging the use of them; just what are they though?

Hashtags are a means to categorise your post - allowing you to ensure the relevant folk are seeing a post and being drawn towards your brand page. They're a quick and easy way to find other posts talking about the same thing, allowing brands to really build a relationship with their community. The main focus of this post is the use of hashtags on Instagram. We'll briefly touch on using them on Twitter & Facebook at the end of this piece.

As a brand, you need to have a game plan when it comes to hashtags for Instagram. If your posts weren't digital and were in fact flyers, you'd have a strategy as to where you'd put them. For example if you were a ladies nail and beauty salon, you'd flyer drop in places where women live, work and socialise; avoiding male gyms and working men's clubs. That same thought process has to be applied to your digital content. You need to be asking yourself 'where will my customers likely be looking in order to find me?'.

You've got a maximum of 30 opportunities to 'categorise' your posts. So you may as well make use of them! Although, research has proven using between 20-25 hashtags works best, experiment and go with what you feel comfortable with. Of course, there's a fine art to getting your hashtags right...

  • Using popular hashtags means there's A LOT of competition and so your post will be lost quickly on that feed, and there's also an increased risk of it being found by spam accounts who don't add any real value to your business.
  • On the other end of the scale, using hashtags that are too niche there's the chance no-one will be searching for it and you won't be found at all.

To find how popular a hashtag is, use the search function and select 'Tags' at the top. This will give you a number of posts which have used that hashtag. It will also give you suggested similar hashtags, which will help give you ideas of others to use in your strategy. It'll take a bit of experimenting to see which work best for you, but we recommend using a mixture of popular (>1 million posts), medium (100k-1m), and specific (<100k) hashtags.

The types of hashtags you should be thinking of using can be broken down into 6 categories

1) Branded - Using your brand as a hashtag not only strengthens your brand presence, but encouraging your customers to use it allows you to easily find their posts for user generated content. You can also encourage your audience to follow your hashtag so they won't miss any posts and be more likely to engage with it.

2) Localised - If your brand is location relevant then using hashtags of the town, city and county you're based in is crucial to be found. Also use tags for nearby locations to help spread the word. If the image is at a specific location, be sure to use that as well!

3) Industry - Whatever your industry whether it's a lawyers or a hairdressers, using hashtags appropriate to your field are key. Remember to use any specific USPs, services or specialities you may offer - such as #organichaircare #weddinghair 

4) Community - For pretty much every industry, there are communities of like minded people sharing similar content. I.e. for #instafood #foodporn #whatimeating. Each have their own sets of hashtags, so do some digging to find ones relevant to you.

5) Trends - We've all heard of #mondaymotivation & #throwbackthursday These are on-going trends adopted week on week by individuals and brands. Then there's one's like #metoo #worldcup2018 that are specific to an event or movement (at the time of writing it's #transpridebrighton #newcastlepride and #parkrun). There's also adhoc fun trends that pop up (most noticeable on twitter) such as #inappropriatefuneralsongs #misheardlyrics #mysuperpower. All of these are great for a brand to pick up on and to inject a bit of fun and personality into their content.

6) Post specific - Finally, don't forget to include a few hashtags that are specific to the post itself.  For example a post of someone in a gym could include the move they're doing, the muscles they're working, the benefits they're getting from it and the brand of the equipment they're using. These are more niche but all make sure your tags are as relevant as possible.

Get creative with them, monitor their success and have fun with them. The odd cheeky one can add humour and personality, helping you build real relationships with your audience. But you don't want to overdo it - it can make you look like an embarrassing parent trying to blend in at a school disco...y'know what we're saying!? Instagram also has the ability for a user to report a post for not being relevant to a hashtag, which negatively impacts your reach - so don't do too wild on the random ones!

When it comes down to WHERE you put them, we've experimented and we've found it doesn't matter if your hashtags are in the caption of a post or in the first comment. It's all down to personal preference and if you're using a scheduling program or not. Our only recommendation is if it's in the caption, to keep them to the end and separate them from the body of your text with emojis or symbols, just for the sake of aesthetics.

Keeping a focus on WHO you're appealing to, and WHERE there might be looking for you is key to a top hashtag hustle! Remember the aim isn't for building follower numbers and likes (vanity metrics). It's about building a community that's relevant and generating you positive ROI. After all it's not likes and followers that pays the bills! 

Facebook & Twitter

With social media, what works on one platform, can actually be a big faux pas on another.

Twitter is best to just use one or two per post and make sure they're relevant and not too convoluted. The idea on twitter is more to be included in a discussion or engage with a specific audience. Twitter is also where more creative & fun hashtags come into play and really allow a brand to show some personality.

Facebook is where they're pretty much frowned upon. The odd one is fine and best used for a specific campaign, an event your main branded hashtag. Such as if you were Nike, #justdoit would work. Any more than one is not only ugly, but pretty redundant - hashtags just aren't used the same on Facebook as they are on other platforms. If you're sharing a post from Instagram to Facebook, it's best practise to edit the caption first to remove the hashtags.

Now, go forth and get your hashtag hustle ON! Any questions, we'd be happy to help, just drop us a message!


jen eastwood