How to Maximize Visual Social Marketing Exposure with Hashtags on Instagram

By Krista Neher

When you launch a visual social media campaign you want to reach a large audience. One way to do this is to utilize hashtags. A hashtag is a word or phrase, preceded by the pound (#) symbol that describes or labels a topic (in this case, the photo).

The hashtag, which is a powerful way to increase the exposure and reach of your Instagram photos, originated on Twitter and is now used across a variety of social networks such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Though the caption can contain a number of descriptive words, words with hashtags refer specifically to the overall theme of the post. For example, you may share a picture of you riding your motorcycle in Cincinnati and add the description “Me on my #motorcycle in #Cincinnati.”

By using the hashtag in front of the words that describe the image, you’re drawing attention to motorcycle and Cincinnati and signifying that your photo is about motorcycle and Cincinnati.

Use hashtags in the description in addition to text. The reason that hashtags are used in addition to text is that a caption can include a number of words that aren’t relevant to the theme of the photo.

For example, you may caption your photo this way: “I had an amazing ride around the city today.” But then you might add #motorcycle #Cincinnati to tag the image based on the general theme.

People often search Instagram for specific hashtags. For example, a motorcycle enthusiast may want to find pictures of motorcycles. Using hashtags helps your photos be found by people who are interested in the subject.

For example, someone recently posted two similar photos on Instagram from an event they attended. Both images were slides from a presentation. In the first image, a general description of the photo was included, with no hashtags: “Great advice at @thecircuit_ event: fail fast & cheap, plan for mistakes, be scalable @hcbctr.”

This photo generated one comment and two likes, from people who already follow the user on Instagram. The second description included hashtags: “More #entrepreneur #success tips: work hard, be vision driven and have unwavering confidence @thecircuit_ @hcbctr.” This image generated 23 likes, mostly from people who aren’t already following me. Both images were similar in content and were posted at the same time of day.

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This example shows that adding hashtags to a description can increase the views and likes on your photos. Because people specifically search for hashtags, including them on your images invites more exposure.