Oftentimes, social media can feel more like a puzzle than a tool. As a marketers, we know exactly how powerful social media (especially Instagram and Twitter) can be for our brand image—but how can we use platform techniques to boost our visibility organically?

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The answer is simple—branded hashtags with strategies to match. Hashtags are one of the main elements of a good social media campaign, and branding your hashtags can take this social media strategy even further. Through branded hashtag strategies, you can expand your brand, increase your reach and see clear engagement and conversions from your efforts. According to Jumper Media, 70% of all hashtags on Instagram are branded hashtags.

It is important to determine what branded hashtags will work best for your business and how to implement them in your own strategies both for Instagram and Twitter.

By following the strategy creation tips below and using branded hashtags to their full potential, you can redefine what social media means for your business and grab hold of your marketing strategy in no time.

Related: Elements of a Good Social Media Campaign

Why Should You Research Hashtags for Your Business?

First, what is a hashtag? 

hash·tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. When a person uses a topic or brand hashtag to their post, it creates a hyperlink and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users. Once someone clicks on that hyperlinked hashtag, the user will be directed to a page that aggregates all posts with the same hashtags, in real-time.

Hashtags are most prevalent on Instagram and Twitter, thought Facebook and LinkedIn are working toward higher usage of hashtags. Using hashtags is a powerful way of getting more coverage of your brand and expanding your reach because people are actively searching for your topic. 

Although these strategies should absolutely be used in conjunction with one another, branded hashtags require a clear image of your company and what you represent. To determine this, you will want to research hashtags for your business that are working both in your industry and in your current strategy.

Start by reviewing your demographic profiles and analyzing what their most frequent searches are online and what hashtags are currently trending related to your business, buyer personas or industry. For instance, if you are in the higher education, your demographic is likely younger and you may want to look both at other competing universities in your area for reference and how students at those universities are interacting with those branded hashtags.

Once you have found the hashtags that are most relevant to your industry, demographic, and product or service, you can begin to create your very own branded hashtags that will resonate with your audience.

Related: Why You Need a Social Media Schedule

How to Create Branded Hashtags

Once you have a clear vision of what your ideal customers or prospects search for or follow, you can start to devise ideas for your very own branded hashtag.

A common rule with branded hashtags is that they should always be authentic, catchy and simple. The last thing you want is to have a hashtag people simply can’t spell or is over-the-top. Although many business owners simply opt for their brand names, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Using the hashtags you discovered above, you can find ways to tie your brand into your industry or demographic and get more people utilizing it because of this. 

For instance, #shareaCoke was used by Coca-Cola to promote their products and received thousands of successful responses from individuals with their own ‘Share a Coke’ experiences. With this in mind, choose a succinct and easy-to-remember hashtag that is sure to attract your desired demographic and industry alike.

Related: 11 Hacks To Improve Your Social Media Marketing Game

The Best Ways to Implement a Branded Hashtag Strategy

Now that you have your branded hashtag solidified, it's time to start implementing this hashtag into your current strategy for both Instagram and Twitter. When it comes to Twitter, one to two hashtags is all that a person should include but, with Instagram eight to eleven is the industry standard.

Use the hashtags you compiled from before along with the branded hashtag(s) and begin to create your strategies for both social platforms. Along with the tips below, you can create a strategy that is sure to lead to countless conversions time and time again.

Instagram Brand Hashtag Strategy Tips

With Instagram relying heavily on hashtags and requiring nearly eight to eleven hashtags per post to be successful, you may be wondering how Instagram hashtags work for business. Specifically, how do you create an Instagram brand hashtag strategy that actually works, especially when considering the density of hashtags on this platform?

Fortunately, it’s all about the organization and categorization of posts on Instagram rather than relevance, per se. Having a hashtag that is highly popular alongside your branded hashtag is one way to increase your Instagram engagement exponentially. Similarly, the more posts you add to your own hashtag, the higher it appears on Instagram when someone puts in a word associated with it. This will increase the chances of someone using your hashtag for their personal post and expanding your reach even further.

However, with both of these platforms, you will want to start by putting in your desired hashtag and determining if it is already being used. If so, you may want to reconsider your branded hashtag choice, as you certainly don’t want to be affiliated with a competitor’s branded hashtag or something vastly unrelated to your business.

Although, in some cases, having a similar hashtag can be in your benefit. For instance, if your name is strikingly close to a celebrity’s and your business is a personal brand, you may want to use your name and get this extra traffic to boost your brand without doing anything in the process.

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Twitter Brand Hashtag Strategy Tips

There are many ways to implement branded hashtags in your Twitter marketing strategy. However, the most effective ways include incentivizing your hashtag, getting influencers involved, promoting it frequently and consistently and accepting the fact that this process is slow but well worth the effort.

For starters, you will want to focus on promoting and incentivizing your hashtag. How can you expect people to recognize that it exists or use it if you aren’t giving them a reason to do so? According to Twitter’s business blog:

“Don’t expect people to start using your brand slogan or other one-sided hashtags in their Tweets if it doesn’t fit naturally and there is no incentive for them to do so...Whether it’s an actual prize or just recognition in the form of a Retweet, your audience will respond better when it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”

When it comes to promoting your hashtag, scheduling Twitter posts alone is not enough. You will want to start connecting with your demographic on trending content and using your hashtag frequently. By doing this, you solidify its value and encourage others to use it. In this same way, having a person creating trending content, such as an influencer, is a great way to validate your branded hashtag and continue to expand its reach within your buyer persona audience.

Just remember that this process is a slow but effective one that requires frequent upkeep and consistency to work. You will likely be using your hashtag for months before you see true conversions from it. However, once the conversions begin to trickle in, your hashtag could be the answer to more traffic than you have ever seen before.

In the end, branded hashtags are an effective and clever way to increase brand image, reach and growth—but they do take time and effort to perfect. By taking the time and putting in the initial hard work, however, you can reap the benefits of a hashtag that is trending and tied completely to you and your brand. Whether you provide education or medical care or sell cars or software, your business deserves to be noticed—and branded hashtags are the perfect way to do just that with a hint of personalization in the mix.

Are you ready to take Instagram by storm and leverage this powerful platform to grow your visibility online? Join our FREE webinar on June 20!

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Written by Ashley Freeman

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