One of the original uses of the # symbol has to do with code. Code being the universal language that is the basis for all things digital. It is how websites and applications are created. In order to keep this discussion simple, let's just say when referring to this symbol in terms of coding language, it's purpose is to classify data. It is referred to simply as a hash. Adding it to a line of data is called 'tagging' the data - hence the name 'hash-tag'.
Anyone who has ever used the hash(tag) while out grabbing a late night slice, will show up in your search!
Although that's only partially true.
See #vancouverpizza has been used on Instagram less than 1000 times. I know this because I did a search on Instagram and it tells me how often a particular hashtag has been used. So while a hashtag used less than 1000 times may work for finding a good pizza joint, it's not being posted and searched enough to get you any attention if you tried to use it as a marketing tool. Just not enough people are using it.
These are the things you need to know when incorporating hashtags into your digital strategy.
As strange as it may sound, it's just as important to note that you aren't likely to get the results you want using a hashtag searched millions of times either. For example, #pizza has been used 40,000,000 times - and no, that is not a typo, it says 40 MILLION - making the odds of showing up in a search with that many other results basically NIL. Even if someone took the time to scroll through all of the posts that used #pizza in the caption, they aren't likely to keep going through all 40 million.
While understanding where the hash(tag) came from and why we might find it useful now may seem quite straightforward, the strategies for getting the results can be a bit unclear at first. To really get the best results possible when using Instagram as a marketing tool, it's best to have a strategy in place that reflects your goals and your plan for accomplishing them. From there I recommend you spend a bit of time doing some hashtag research. To give you some parameters, start with hashtags that describe your account (#digitalmarketing), your target audience (#mompreneur) or your ideal audience (#womeninbusiness). When you search a hashtag, other suggestions will pop up so picking a starting point is all you need to do.
If you'd like bit more help with your hashtag strategy, I have created a guide to help you understand what factors make a real difference connecting with the people you want to connect with when using hashtags. It includes a few simple tools to make determining which hashtags will work best for your brand super easy to do. The guide is totally FREE and will go a long way outlining what works for your brand. You can grab the guide here: https://www.catherinemellon.com/increase-sales-using-hashtags.html
Feel free to follow me on Instgram and ask any questions about getting the most from your hashtag use. I'm happy to help. I'm pretty confident that once you realize how simple it really is, you'll be tagging your posts effectively in no time. The results are sure to include a more targeted audience and an increase in your fan-base.
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Catherine Mellon is an Online Business Coach & Consultant who has been helping entrepreneurs & small businesses use the internet to grow their business since 2014.