hashtag

5 Ideas for Instagram Marketing

Instagram, like any good social media platform, has in the past 6 months-year added a few new features, which most businesses approach with caution at first. As businesses/people have gotten more comfortable with marketing on Instagram, I’ve noticed a few interesting ways that people are using Instagram to connect with followers and current/prospective customers.

Here are the five different things I’ve seen on Instagram lately:

  1. The Instagram Takeover. A “takeover” is giving someone else control of the business’s Instagram account, usually for a day but it can also be a weekend. An Instagram takeover usually happens with someone who is sort of related to your business/industry. For instance, Wyman’s Blueberry allowed a food blogger to take over their Instagram page for a whole week. What I noticed in this takeover was that @holly_tasteandsee stuck to on-brand recipes (meaning she integrated Wyman’s products into her takeover posts). It gave Wymans followers something new to look at, and it gave both @holly_tasteandsee’s and Wymans exposure to new audiences.

If you want to try a takeover for your business, find someone who is relevant to what you do (i.e. food company and food blogger, business letting an employee takeover posts, etc), and create parameters with that person if necessary (this could be called common sense, but may still be a helpful conversation to have).

2) Featuring another person. In March (Women’s History Month), Rustic Arrow Maine had “Women Wednesdays” where they featured a local female entrepreneur on their Instagram. It featured a photo of the woman, a caption that included her Instagram handle, and a brief description of her work/business. This type of feature gives you more control than a Takeover, while including other people in your post. This gets attention for their business, too, while creating something new and fun for your Instagram page. Following general rules of social media etiquette, remember to ask a person before you feature them on your Instagram page.

3) Multiple picture post. This Instagram update is great news for those who want to create larger updates like new products/meals etc, but don’t want to overwhelm followers with several different posts. The catch is that all must be in square shape and will receive the same filter. People will be able to see that there are multiple photos in a post, so you don’t have to worry about them “missing out” on the other images in your post.

Garnier and many other Instagram sponsored ads will use this technique as it gives you more bang for your advertising buck. This product image was actually the last in the post- the preceding images were all happy looking women with different hair colors/textures.

4) Use of a specific hashtag to promote a contest (and sharing participant’s photos that came out well). Downeast Magazine is well known (at least, to me) for doing this sort of thing. They request that users tag them and use a specific hashtag, and share some of the content on their own page (after asking permission and using correct attribution). This is a tool called “User Generated Content,” which has become a buzzword in marketing over the past couple years. The idea is to encourage users to share something- in this case, a photo that represents #Mainelife.

Downeast Magazine has quite a few contests/user engagement ideas if you go to their Instagram page. Right now, they are in the process of sharing 40 items from “The Great Maine Scavenger Hunt,” featured in the print magazine. Another thing that is worth pointing out- in the caption for the post below, they say “See our website for more info about entering the hunt,” so if increasing website traffic in an organic, natural matter is something you’re trying to do, promoting content on Instagram is a clever way to do that.

 

5) Unique use of Bookmarks. Seabags Maine, a company that makes bags out of recycled sails. They recently used the new bookmark feature in Instagram (similar to Facebook’s ‘save for later’) to create a contest. They created a “puzzle” and posted one piece at a time (out of order, of course) and gave specific instructions about how to enter the contest. They also accepted the first 5 to respond as winners, which could have encouraged more participation (people may see this and think “I have a shot!” vs. “there’s no way I’ll be the first person to respond so why bother”).

Have you seen any interesting things go by on Instagram that could be useful for businesses (or is just cool in general)? Let us know! 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Where To Find Hashtags

Something about seeing the pound sign in front of a word can make the smartest of us feel a little stupid. Is this something I should know? Is this another language?

Hashtags help us organize information. Nothing more and nothing less.

Let’s say you posted a picture of kittens on Facebook you want to help find homes for. Now in the caption you could say “These Maine coon cat kittens were born in January. They have arrived at the Hancock County SPCA animal shelter very recently. If you know of someone looking for a kitten, send them over!”

While this is a fine caption (and you probably tagged the animal shelter’s Facebook page so people could easily get in touch), how will this picture be found on Facebook by potential adopters? Also some people may be saying ‘maine coon cat’, ‘maine coon’, ‘coon cat’ or some variation.

Searching for ‘maine coon cat’ will bring up any post with those words in it. It will not necessarily bring up pictures of coon cats looking for homes. By putting #mainecoon and #adoptme into the search, I am suddenly getting much more relevant results.

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So hashtags aren’t meant to be confusing or exclusive but the opposite of that. In particular, hashtags help with organizing groups of information in what is often limited space.

The pet thing is one application of hashtags but no doubt in your industry or interests, you can think of ways a hashtag would help you either get your information in front of the right set of eyeballs or curate useful information.

Alright, so I’ve convinced you to use a hashtag (or several). How do you know which ones to use? You have some options.

Option 1: Make Up Your Own

We’ve heard about this going badly but don’t let this stop you from starting your own hashtags! Just 1) do your research to make sure your hashtag doesn’t have a previous history and 2) make sure you communicate this new hashtag to the people you want to use it.

The way I’ve seen this be really successful is at conferences. Joomla Day UK is coming up soon and people are already tweeting about it:

joomladayukhashtag

Once the conference is in full swing, attendees and interested people will be able to follow what’s going on in an organized way.

Option 2: Ride The Trends

Most social networks that support hashtags will have a list of what’s trending on that network. Here’s an example from Twitter (well, the day I took this screenshot anyway):

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Now if you don’t necessarily want to talk about something trending but want to talk about a popular hashtag in your niche, you can use a resource like Hastagify.me to look up the popularness of certain hashtags:

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As you see, #mainecoon is the most popular hashtag so if we were limited on space, we’d want to pick that one and ride that popularity trend.

Option 3: Go Tried And True

hashtags-of-central-maineThis is the internet equivalent of buying a classic pair of dark jeans or a crisp white shirt.

Hashtags for days of the week (ex #WCW for ‘woman crush Wednesday’)
Hashtags for (some) industries (you can look yours up on the Google)
Hashtags by geographic area (You can see, stage right, some popular hashtags in my corner of the world when I took this screenshot.)

If you want to completely overwhelm yourself or really geek out researching popular hashtags, this post is for you: https://www.marketingtechblog.com/hashtag-research-tools/

Is it important to get hashtags exactly right? Probably not. But as you start using them and getting more confident, you’ll see which ones work well over time. #seeyouonline #social #marketing #goyou

(Pro Tip from my Instagram enthusiast husband: Have a note on your phone with all the hashtags you use in it… then you can copy and paste the whole thing into Instagram and just delete the ones you don’t need.)

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.