What the Instagram Hashtag Update Means to Brands
Instagram recently announced that users can follow hashtags, similar to following a friend. Once a user follows a hashtag, Instagram will use an algorithm to generate a selection of top posts displaying that hashtag within the user’s main feed. The algorithm is said to be based on factors such as recency and quality. Plus, users will be able to flag irrelevant or inappropriate content that appears for a hashtag. Giving Instagram users the ability to customize the type of content that appears within their feed will help users discover new posts and accounts that fit their interests and passions. The new functionality will also help businesses increase brand recognition, enhance their social listening, and, down the road, possibly a new ad targeting option. Here are recommendations for brands:
Increase Brand Recognition
Brands should have a brand hashtag and use it consistently, whether it’s the brand name, slogan, or product. Doing so gives brands the opportunity to be discovered by new followers or current customers that were not following before.
A word of caution: companies should be careful not to hijack hashtags or overplay their hand in an attempt to build brand awareness. Inevitably, Instagram users will add trendy or broad hashtags to their posts in order to draw attention and increase followers even though the hashtags are irreverent to their content or business. Don’t be one of those users. Following hashtags is supposed to allow Instagram users to discover accounts that align with their interests. So it’s important that companies use hashtags within their posts that align only with their brand, content, and products.
Enhance Social Listening
Companies should also take advantage of following hashtags, whether it’s their brand hashtag or other popular industry hashtags.
Following your own company hashtag will enhance your brand’s social listening strategy. You can learn what users are saying about your brand or products even when they don’t tag you within the post.
One way to get started is to create a list of hashtags that are popular in your industry. For example, if you sell a pet product or service, you should consider following #dogsofinstagram or #catvideos to stay up to date on trending posts and topics.
Marketers can also gain insight on their brand loyalists and what they are interested in or passionate about by exploring the type of hashtags your followers follow. Doing so gives brands the opportunity to take these learnings to create new posts, products, and marketing strategies that resonate with customers’ interests, hobbies, and emotions.
Advertising – Possibly New Targeting Option?
The ability to follow hashtags makes Instagram evolve from a social network to an interest network. When Instagram announced this new feature, the app did not mention rolling it out to advertisers as interest targeting – but the possibility exists in the future. Instagram could allow advertisers to target a person following a given hashtag or charge companies to show a relevant sponsored post on a hashtag’s page. Whether or not this new feature will bring in more targeting options for advertisers, it will definitely increase users’ time spent on the platform. So take advantage of testing out ads on Instagram while engagement is up.
For more insight into integrating Instagram into your marketing strategy, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.