Instagram For Business For Dummies
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Surely you’ve seen the Instagram hashtag #YesWeCan, or #ShareaCoke, right? These are examples of branded hashtags. A branded hashtag may start as a campaign slogan and then morph over to easily become a branded hashtag. But sometimes it’s not that simple, and you’ll need to do more research before launching a branded hashtag.

Here are the steps for creating a branded hashtag for your business:

  1. Start by making a list of all hashtags that relate to your brand, including any slogans you use regularly.
  2. Search that hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to make sure it's not already being used by someone else or for something unsavory.
  3. Share the hashtag with several people to see ensure that it makes sense and the letters don’t run together to form new words. For instance, the ill-fated hashtag for Kids Exchange, a consignment store for kids' clothes, was #kidsexchange, which could be misread as “kid sex change.”
  4. Use the hashtag on your Instagram posts (and other social media), Power Point presentations, flyers, ads, and packaging to get people accustomed to seeing it and using it to tag their posts about your product or service.
Branded hashtags offer an easy way for followers to search for their favorite brands on Instagram. After you have true fans, they'll start using your hashtag on their posts, to showcase your product or service in their post or simply to interact with you. Be sure to check your branded hashtag often so you can respond and react to posts that include it!

As documented in a study by TrackMaven, a longer hashtag (21 to 24 characters) is better, but make sure it's something that is easy to remember and spell. Don’t use weird abbreviations or terms that people might find confusing.

Hashtag your promotion or contest on Instagram

If you're launching a promotion or contest, it’s important to use a unique hashtag so you can easily follow the activity of users interacting with you.

If you already have a branded hashtag for your business, you should choose a new hashtag for this promotion or contest only. Follow the guidelines just mentioned for creating a branded hashtag, but make it specific to this contest. If your branded hashtag has already gone viral, you could just add contest to the end of it, such as #JustDoItContest, to capitalize on your already known brand.

Start using the hashtag on all posts, material, and websites related to the promotion or contest. Give followers instructions for using the hashtag in their posts.

© Jenn Herman
@jenns_trends tells followers that they can enter her contest by using the hashtags #LearnfromJenn and #SMMW17 in their entry posts.

After your promotion or contest is underway, check the hashtag often (by tapping it) to monitor the conversation or gather contest entries or both. Another simple way to view hashtags is to tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of your Instagram mobile app, and then type the hashtag in the Search box. A page with just those hashtags will appearbfor you to view, respond to, and collect as contest entries.

hashtag search Instagram Search results for the hashtag #learnfromjenn.

Gathering user-generated Instagram content

When you're running a promotion or contest, you might ask followers to submit a piece of their own content to enter the contest. For example, @jenns_trends tells her followers to take a photo during her live conference session and upload the image by Monday.

User-generated content paired with your promotion or contest hashtag is an excellent way to expand the reach of your promotion or contest. The followers who submit content are now spreading the hashtag among their followers. Depending on the size of your brand or how viral the contest, this method can increase your reach exponentially.

Check the hashtag by tapping the magnifying glass at the bottom of your Instagram mobile app, and then typing the hashtag in the Search area. Another way to track hashtags is with Tagboard. This app gives a more easily viewed presentation of all the posts submitted with a certain hashtag. Most other all-in-one content-management systems, such as Sprout Social, Iconosquare, and Tailwind, also enable you to search for your hashtags to view submitted content.

Instagram tagboard Use Tagboard to search and view user-generated content easily.

Finally, after you find the user-generated content via your hashtag, repost it or notify the winner or both! If your initial instructions did not include a phrase about the follower granting permission to use the image as a condition of submitting it, make sure you contact the person to get permission to repost.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Jenn Herman (jenns_trends) is a social media consultant, speaker, and globally recognized Instagram expert.

Eric Butow (ericbutow) is the author of more than 30 books.

Corey Walker (coreycwalker) is the owner of The Marketing Specialist in El Dorado Hills, California.

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