How to Use Instagram Tags in Your Social Strategy

Did you know that about 70% of the content posted on Instagram isn’t seen by its intended audience?

In any social media strategy, you need a plan to help you connect with your target audience, engage your existing followers and build a robust reputation. Using the right Instagram tags can help with all of those things.

Instagram tags or hashtags not only help your business to be discovered by the right people, but they can also strengthen your connections with your audience. According to some studies, posts with a single hashtag get up to 12.6% more engagement than those without.

So, what is an Instagram tag, and how do you use it to enhance your social strategy?

That’s what we’re here to find out.

Defining Instagram Tags

Before we look at how to use Instagram tags, let’s explain what they are.

Instagram tags or hashtags are words and phrases that follow the “#” symbol on Instagram. Though hashtags appear on virtually every social media channel, they have a different purpose depending on the platform you use. On Instagram, hashtags primarily help users to find the content they need.

Users can either click on a suggested tag to find photos that are relevant to their interests, or they can search for tags in the Instagram search bar. For instance, imagine you wanted to use Instagram to find inspiration for your next luxury break. You’d search for #LuxuryBreak and see all the latest content posted under that Instagram tag:

Screenshot of the #LuxuryBreak page on Instagram

How Brands Can Use Instagram Tags

Instagram tags are useful for both consumers and companies alike.

As mentioned above, your choice of hashtag can help you to connect with your consumer on a deeper level, by linking your company or social presence to popular terms like #Instagood.

However, it’s not enough to pack your content full of hashtags and expect to see an instant boost in your follower count. Around 60% of the users on Instagram are millennials, which means that they regard your content with some skepticism.

If you try using shady tactics to gain Instagram followers, like using irrelevant tags, your followers will call you out for it. What’s more, the latest Instagram algorithms may penalize your account too!

So, how can you use Instagram tags effectively?

1.     Know How Many Instagram Tags to Use

Instagram allows users to place up to 30 tags on any post. However, that doesn’t mean that you should take advantage of that limit. The days of piling endless tags into your posts are over, now that Instagram has begun to judge profiles based on the “spamminess” of their online behavior.

Although it’s essential to use some Instagram tags in your content, don’t get carried away. The easiest way to ensure that you’re using the right number of hashtags in each post is to track the engagement metrics available in Instagram Insights. This free-to-use analytical service will allow you to see which of your posts get the most attention. Note how many tags you use in your most successful posts and stick with that number.

Snapshot of the Instagram Insights page

2.     Understand When You Should Use Instagram Tags

Instagram tags are marketing tools that help to place your content in front of the right audience.

Whenever you want to earn attention from a specific consumer base, that’s when you want to use your hashtags. In other words, there’s probably a reason to use tags in virtually every post you publish on Instagram. Used correctly, your tags will help you to:

  • Connect with clients: Customers searching for relevant solutions to their problems will find your content listed under the appropriate hashtag. This means that you could attract new followers.
  • Demonstrate your personality: Using a handful of trending hashtags like #InstaGood is a great way to show your customers that you speak their language and understand the Instagram culture.
  • Learn about your customers: By tracking the hashtags that your followers use when they’re talking about your company, you can glean a better insight into your online reputation.

When you find a selection of Instagram tags that resonate with your target audience, it may be tempting to use them in every post. Fight the temptation!

Copying and pasting the same tags over and over identifies you as a “spammy” brand to Instagram. At the same time, when you constantly post the same tags, you limit the number of customers you can reach. More variety means a broader IG audience.

3.     Learn Where to Use Instagram Tags

You know you should be using Instagram tags in your everyday content – that’s #Obvious.

However, your daily posts aren’t the only thing that can benefit from hashtags. Recently, Instagram updated their “Stories” feature, allowing users to place tags within their stories and slideshows. You can now place Instagram tags directly over your video or story, and your followers can click on it just as they would with a regular hashtag.

As easy as it is to get carried away with tags on Instagram Stories, we recommend sticking to one per post. Too many tags in one update are more likely to alienate your audience than gain you new followers.

Remember to use Instagram tags in your bio too! You’ve got 150 characters here to show off your sense of style, and hashtags can help you to do that. Again, less is more with tags on your Instagram bios. One or two hashtags is more than enough to help you define your brand.

4.     Discover Where You Can Find Instagram Tags

Knowing when, where and why to post Instagram tags is great, but it won’t help you much if you don’t know where to find the right hashtags in the first place.

The good news is that you don’t have to search far to find some inspiration. Just some of the best ways to search for relevant tags include:

  • Check out what your target audience is sharing: A great way to start building your library of Instagram tags is to find out what your customers or fans use. Using the same hashtags as your audience will help you to build deeper connections with them based on a sense of shared affinity.
  • Copy your competitors: Generally, copying what your competitors do online isn’t a good idea. However, if you’re struggling for inspiration for your Instagram tags, it pays to see what other companies in your industry are doing. Visit your competitors accounts and pay attention to the tags they use on their most popular posts.
  • Follow recommended tags for inspiration: Instagram introduced the option to “follow” hashtags in 2017. Instagram will automatically suggest related hashtags for you to follow based on tags that you already use or engage with. This is a great way to find Instagram tags that you may not think of by yourself.
  • Create branded hashtags: Though it’s a good idea to use popular and trending hashtags in your post to generate brand awareness, it’s also helpful to create your tags from time to time. If you need to track engagement on a campaign, or get people talking about your business, create a hashtag that your customers can get behind. The #LikeAGirl hashtag created by Always to empower women is one of the most popular tags of all time.

Screenshot of the #LikeAGirl hashtag

5.     Remember to Track Your Instagram Tags

Finally, the more time you spend on your Instagram tags, the better your social media strategy will become. Over time, you’ll be able to track the performance of your tags through Instagram Insights, to determine whether you’re using the right blend of branded and trending terms in your posts.

The best way to optimize your campaigns is to alter your hashtag strategy a small amount with every post. For instance, try posting one week with 1 branded tag, 5 trending tags, and 3 community tags. The next week, switch to 1 branded tag, 5 community tags, and 3 trending tags, and see which performs better.

Eventually, you’ll begin to get a sense for the blend of Instagram tags that are best suited to your consumer base.

Don’t Underestimate Instagram Tags

While there’s more to being successful on Instagram than the right hashtags, they’re an excellent place to start optimizing your campaign.

As a simple solution for instant engagement and brand reach, hashtags are one of the quickest ways to boost the ROI of your Instagram campaigns.

For additional help collecting the followers, engagement, and conversions you need through Instagram, Upleap is here to help. Contact us today to start your free trial!

By Rebekah Carter

Hi! I'm Rebekah, a full-time writer specializing in the spaces of digital content, business, social media and tech.

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