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Making a Branded Hashtag Work for You

Hashtag marketing on Instagram is something I've worked hard at teaching entrepreneurs over the past few years. Although it's still a valuable resource for being found within Instagram, more businesses and users are reporting to me that they aren't finding the same level of growth that they once were. If you are using the platform's analytics, you may be able to narrow down a little further where your growth and visits are coming from, but you've probably experienced the slow down rate of growth that most others have yourself.

One strategy that I see many pages following, and rightfully so, is adding a branded hashtag to their list of marketing hashtags. For example, company yellowblue is adding #yellowblue to their hashtag list. This ensures that if someone searches for them, they can find both their page and any and all posts that have been hashtagged with their branded tag.

The key here is that many brands are not using this to their advantage, and there is an easy marketing effort that you can make to go along with this branded hashtag to help you grow. These are most easily used with products, but service based industries can also take advantage of this if they are clever enough, especially if they have a brick and mortar location.

Here are the simple steps it takes:

1. Develop your branded hashtag. In my example above, the branded hashtag is simply the company name. I don't recommend a lot of creativity here, as adding emojis or extra words can make your hashtag harder to find. If you are a product based company, you may want to create multiple branding hashtags. For example, if your products are seasonal you could use #yellowblue #yellowbluefall or even separate specific years with #yellowblue2018.

2. Advertise your branded hashtag. If you have an in person store, can you hang a large, noticeable, easy-to-read sign? Can you slip a piece of paper into their sales bag? Can you put it directly on their receipt? If you collect emails, notify everyone via email with occasional reminders - NOT spamming them with your new concept. Post it DIRECTLY onto your Instagram in a post to let people know (make sure you include the branded hashtag(s) in the post), and if you have other social media platforms, post it there too.

3. Get your consumers or clients using your hashtag. As we all know, word of mouth is truly the best form of growth. It comes with a built in recommendation, so it means a lot. You can take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing for free by having your consumers/clients USE your branded hashtag on their own Instagram. Although it's nice for people to use your branded hashtag if they take a picture of your product/location/service, they may not do it without incentivization. So...incentivize them!

4. Set the rules and parameters, and decide on prizes/contests/giveaways/discounts etc. One option - for every 10 branded hashtags that are posted, you will choose one for the set prize. Start small, and as it catches on and is used more often, spread out the incentive - 50 tags, 75 tags, etc. Make sure they use your hashtag AND tag your company/brand in their post as a qualification for entry. This will encourage their friends, family, and followers to go check you out, and hopefully follow too. Most likely they won't be posting with anything negative to say, so they are reviewing, ranting and raving for you FOR FREE, all while hitting their audience's curiosity about your brand. It's a win-win.

5. Advertise, advertise, advertise! Just keep changing up, being creative with, and adding to the incentives to help keep the desire to participate fresh.

It might take a little planning at the beginning, but if you work hard and advertising your branded hashtag and pair it with an incentivization, you should see increased followers as well as increased brand loyalty. Now that's what we call a win-win!

Have you tried something like this? Will you try it now that you see how simple it is? Happy Hashtagging!

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