A couple of months ago now, one of our favourite social media platforms, Instagram rolled out a new feature which allows users to follow hashtags. HOORAH! Why are we excited, you ask? Because it’s a real game changer, that’s why. When used effectively, hashtags can be very beneficial for users, in particular for businesses, but before we talk about the ‘why’, let’s show you the ‘how’.
How to Follow a Hashtag
To follow a specific hashtag on Instagram, just search for one that interests you via the magnifying glass symbol on the bottom of the screen to the left.
Once you’re in the hashtag gallery, look for a blue Follow button underneath the hashtag. Tap on the button to follow the hashtag. You can choose to unfollow the hashtag at any time by simply tapping on the same button when it says ‘Following’.
From now, you’ll be able to see the best posts under that hashtag in your regular Instagram feed and in your Stories bar. Below is an example of what a photo from a hashtag you follow looks like in your feed.
Other users will also be able to see what hashtags you follow by tapping on the ‘Following’ section on your profile. Cleverly, your Following list will be separated by a People column and a Hashtag column.
Why your business should follow hashtags on Instagram
Don’t panic about the amount of posts you might think will flood your newsfeed – that won’t happen. When it comes to following a hashtag, the Instagram algorithm will sort the content on the hashtag you’re following and select highlights and content it believes you’re most interested in. Technically, it will be just ‘the best ones’.
Instead of a profile name in your newsfeed, you’ll see the hashtag listed next to a current photo for that hashtag along with the coinciding symbol we’ve all come to know and love. Relevant information like the user who posted on the hashtag, as well as any locations, will be placed underneath the hashtag.
And just like in your Stories banner when you get on to your profile, you’ll see a separate story for each of the hashtags you’re following. Choose a story, and have a bit of a watch!
One of the great things about this new feature we are seriously loving right now is that if you see posts within a hashtag you like, and you’ve done the Like thing or commented, the Instagram algorithm will kick in and remember this is the type of content you want, and will show you more of it. Alternatively, if you don’t particularly like a hashtag post that appears in your feed, tap on the three-dot icon for that post and choose to hide it.
And don’t worry about your competitors – you can follow them without actually following them. If your competitor tends to use a certain hashtag, or even better, has created their own personal hashtag for their business, you can follow their hashtag without them receiving a notification that you’re following. Sneaky right?
What hashtags do you follow as a business?
There are two major types of hashtags – branded, and community. Branded hashtags are specific to your company, and might contain your brand name, products, services, or a specific campaign. A benefit of branded hashtags is they can be tied back directly to your company, so when you want a measure of success of a campaign, you can analyse your branded hashtags.
Under the branded hashtag umbrella, you can create event hashtags for conferences, concerts, fundraisers or festivals, and you can also look at targeted industry topics.
Community hashtags are more general and don’t necessarily have anything to do with your company. Some examples include #picoftheday or #friyay, which are widely used and aren’t specific to any one person or company. Other ideas of community-style hashtags include general inspiration and opinions.
Reaching more people with a hashtag campaign
With the inclusion of hashtags into a user’s feed, your brand will be able to significantly expand its organic reach. The key to proper hashtag marketing is to provide authentic posts and relevant topics to the hashtags, and with increased organic reach from a hashtag campaign, influencers could also significantly increase their follower base by reaching new customers or clients.
This places special emphasis on creating quality content so you’re not ignored or missing, and remain a valuable part of the conversation. Once you get started with your hashtags, you’ll be well on your way to growing your audience on Instagram.