Social Media Mythbuster: Hashtags

Hashtags have become a staple for social media marketing. The first hashtag was coined by Chris Messina in 2007 where he proposed an idea that Twitter should start using hashtags to create groups online.

tweet chris.png
(Chris Messina’s Twitter account)

Since then, hashtags have become an integral element within the social media realms of Facebook and Instagram.

“Hashtags categorise the photo with other photos with the same hashtag.” (Berstorm & Backman 2013, p.12)

The notion of grouping images means that it is easier for users who are interested in the content that we post to connect to our Instagram account. Therefore, we are gaining followers and a higher amount of likes.

This week, I have researched different social media marketing tips that surround hashtags–being what kinds of hashtags to use, day-specific hashtags as well as company-specific hashtags.

Social Media scheduling site, Hootsuite is one of the most well-known social media management system to date. It was created in 2008 by Invoke Media and allows social media manager to keep track and schedule their posts.

Hootsuite states that there are 4 essential steps in using and creating hashtags:

  1. Check out what hashtags your competitors are using. Maybe you’ll discover new hashtags to add to your repertoire. Or you could decide you don’t want to compete for the same eyeballs, in which case you can search for alternative hashtags to use.
  2. Use hashtags that influential people in your industry are using. These people are already well-established with your target audience, so why not learn from the best?
  3. Consider related hashtags. Browse through posts containing a hashtag you’re already having success with. Do you see a trend of any other common hashtags that could be included in future posts?
  4. Use Instagram’s search function. Type in a keyword that’s relevant to your brand into Instagram’s search bar then select the Tags tab. Instagram will give you a list of all the hashtags with that keyword as well as a number of posts that are tagged with it. Remember: a large number may mean a large number of people following that hashtag, but it also means there’s a ton of content your post could get buried in. Experiment with a combination of popular and niche hashtags.

(Aynsley 2016)

The competitors for Dance Editorial are hard to determine as there is no one site that does exactly the same thing as us, for the same target audience. However, there are some sites that relate to our ethos, content or audience.

First, I located similar Instagram accounts to our own and noted what hashtags they use.

 

NAME FOLLOWERS HASHTAGS USED
Dance Informa 15.8K #danceinforma #choroegrapher #dancenews #danceislife #dancephotography #dancefestival
Dance Australia 1, 364 #dance #urban #theaustralianballet #contemporarydance
Dance Magazine 82.2K Only @tag people in their content
Dance Spirit 92.2k #dancespiritmagazine #mondaymotivation #taptuesday #tbt #goals
Dance Bible 17.9 #pirrouettes #dancegram #dancelife #onemilliondancers
Dream Dance Company 14.6 K *Don’t use hashtags
Dance On 406K #choreographer #dancelife #trending #dance #relatable #dancemusic #fitspo #instadaily
NYC Dance Project 169K #artofmovement @instagram
Dance Life Unite 11.8K #dancelifeunite #photoshoot #inspire

I then went on to look at different influences and micro-celebrities within the dance industry. However, I found that not many people use hashtags on their content with the intent of increasing reach and more so for the intent of being light-hearted or sacrcastic.

NAME FOLLOWERS HASHTAGS USED
Paris Cav 34.9K #worldwidedance #dancenationcomps #idgpodtme #dancegoals
Tarah Scott 39.1K #dancevideos #dancegoals #worldwidedance #dancenationalcomps
Michael Dameski 79.3K #mdancevideos
Lauren Seymour 23.5K #dance #worldwidedance #workshop #dance

After reviewing the different kinds of hashtags used, I highlighted the ones that were either popular or were more suited to the content that I was posting and added them to my hashtag pool.

I then used an analytics tool called Keyhole to determine the hashtags that are related to “dance” and aimed my posts around the hashtags in order to gain a larger engagement.

hashtag cloud

I then went to investigate the most popular hashtags on Instagram which included #igers #instagood #Love #picoftheday #photooftheday. I also used Instagram analytics to determine the most popular engagement-driven hashtags that we have used in the past.

hashtags performance


According to Track Maven and Hootsuite, the perfect number of hashtags to use per post for the optimal amount of engagement is 11.

hashtags 1

 

Within the week, each post utilised 11 hashtags that were well-researched in popularity and engagement.

Hashtags.png
11 Hashtags were used and it resulted in 145 likes and 9 comments after 2 weeks

As a result, the content I was posting was flagged as having either 90% or 95% better engagement with our audience across almost all of our photos.

hashtag 1.jpg

This means that the amount of engagement and likes are almost on-par with each other. This is the ultimate goal on Instagram where each person who engages with your content also likes it.

Using specific hashtags that surrounded dance like #fashion and #fitness as well as popular hashtags like #igers and #photooftheday, my post had a greater reach where noticed a rise in likes from people who don’t follow our profile.

Hashtags.png
This post achieved 172 likes and 7 comments.
Hashtags
This post only received 76 likes and 2 comments. This quote was posted a week earlier with only 9 hashtags that were not as focused as the hashtags in the previous example. There is a huge difference.
Within the first 6 minutes of posting this image informing our audience that we have just posted a “WHAT’S ON IN APRIL” blog post on our website, the post received 11 likes.  Generally, if the image receives more likes than the amount of minutes its been uploaded for, it means that it is doing well and will most likely be recognised by Instagram’s algorithm and boost it onto everyone’s Instagram feed.

Using hashtags makes content more discoverable for people who are searching for it, however, this function mediates who sees the content and what the audience is exposed to resulting in the creation of echo chambers.

hashtags 2.png
These were the first 8 accounts to like one of our pictures. Each account found us by typing hashtags into the search bar. This is extremely evident with @igersmy liking our photo after we have used #igers as a hashtag.

Finding the appropriate hashtags to use by completing competitor and influencer profiles as well researching popular hashtags did take some time. Although, this research is a one time occurrence as popular hashtags don’t tend to change too much and once the research is done, you can take different hashtags from your personalised and well-researched pool and re-use them for each post.


However, increasing engagement isn’t just reliant on using the right hashtags on each post, it’s also about inviting your audience to use your company-specific hashtag.

Instagram is a social network, meaning that people want to connect and the best way to do that on Instagram is to create a hashtag and promote it to your audience. I have done this using #detribe where I have asked our followers to use this hashtag and mention us in their dance videos and dance photos. However, for this to take off there needs to be an incentive as to why they are using our hashtag. I have decided that every week I will repost a photo on our profile and name them the “#detribe winner of the week”. This is an incentive because people like to be noticed and showcased by brands with a high influence within their industry.

In the bio of our Instagram page it encourages and notifies our audience that they have an opportunity to be featured on our page. This inclusion tactic works for both parties. It makes us as the brand look approachable and allows us to connect with our audience. For our audience, it provides them with a new people to look at their content and boost followers. 
hashtags 3
One of our followers tagged us in their photo and we replied.

For example, @ella_arabel used our hashtag and our Instagram handle on one of her photos which received 141 likes. We then commented on her post thanking her for the tag and acknowledging the great quality of the photograph. She was then chosen as the #detribe winner of the week.

This demonstrates the two-way communication paradigm which is enabled by Instagram, allowing brands to directly communicate and interact with their audience.

hashtags 4
We then chose her as our #detribe winner of the week and then used to post to promote this imitative for others to do the same. 

 

This way, the chosen #detribe winner gains more followers and engagement by being showcased on our page.

hashtags 6
@ella_arabel receives an increased engagement from our followers which she can now build rapport with by replying back to them,

 

However, we, as a brand also gain an increased awareness from the followers of the Instagrammers like @ella_arabel who use our company-specific hashtag.

“On Instagram, companies can utilize the word-of-mouth process by reposting the users pictures or encourage them to tag their pictures with hashtags provided by the company, thus making their message visible to the extended network of the users’ followers.” (Bergstrom. T & Backman. L, 2013, p. 19)

As a result, our followers co-create our content which increases engagement for both us as a brand and them as an Instagrammer.

 

Here is my rating of this social media hack:

Timing: 4.5 Stars

Practicality: 4 Stars

Success: 4 Stars

Engagement: 5 Stars

Ethical: 4 Stars

Common Practice: 4 stars

Overall: 4. 25/ 5 Stars

INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT: @danceeditorial

 

References:

Aynsley M, 2016 “The compete Instagram Hashtag Guide for buisness,” Hootsuite, 2 August <https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-hashtags/&gt;

Bergstrom. T & Backman. L, 2013, ‘ Marketing and PR in Social Media: How the utiltisation of Instagram builds and maintains customer relationships,’ Stockholm University <http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:625012/FULLTEXT01.pdf&gt;

 

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