There are many components that make up a successful post on social media, specifically Instagram. There is the photo or video itself, the location, the photo tags, the caption, and of course, the hashtags. Those not in marketing may not understand that there truly is a science behind the string of hashtags behind any Instagram post. They are not just blindly chosen and in fact, have a specific purpose and goal when added to the post.
Let’s dive into the steps for picking the right hashtags for marketing your restaurant, hotel, or venue on Instagram.
What is the point of a hashtag?
The goal of posting a photo on Instagram is so that it can be found by the target audience of your business. The post may be about selling a product, educate on a topic, encourage community, or something else that will benefit both the business and the followers viewing the post.
In order to get eyes on the Instagram post, it must be interesting and engaging, eye-catching and clever, and most importantly, in the feed or Explore page of your followers and non-followers. Hashtags are how the post will get on the hashtag search and/or Explore page of an Instagram user.
Once inside the Instagram app, click the magnifying glass “Search” tab at the bottom of the screen. This will lead you to a search bar, with tabs to Top, Accounts, Tags, and Places. The Tags tab is important here because it is where a user can search for any hashtag of interest. This is where you want your photo to end up due to the specific hashtags you choose in your post, therefore getting your post in front of new eyes. A user could come here and search #bostonrestaurants or #bostonbabyshower, and if your restaurant uses those hashtags, it could be found.
How many hashtags are needed?
According to Instagram expert Jenn Herman, the average number of hashtags that should be used on a post is 10-20 hashtags. These hashtags should be chosen and divided up based on certain criteria: purpose and popularity. When researching hashtags, consider this breakdown, with three to five hashtags from each category:
- Custom hashtags determined for your brand
- Trendy or themed hashtags, such as for a specific event or holiday
- Content-related hashtags that specify what is in the photo
- Industry-related hashtags
When it comes to hashtag popularity, the more posts that also use the same hashtag will decrease the chance that your specific post is found. That is why when choosing hashtags, it is important to look at how many posts are already associated with that hashtag. Take a look at the next question to understand which hashtags to choose.
Which hashtags should be used?
Take a look at this Instagram post from our EventUp account to follow the process for choosing hashtags. For this post of a restaurant in London, the target audience is event planners and restaurant-goers in the London area.
What would these types of people be searching in order to find a cool restaurant for dinner or a location to host a private event? The obvious choices would be #londonrestaurant or #londonrestaurants which are listed in the first row of hashtags. By clicking these hashtags, you can see that they have 255,000 and 572,000 posts respectively. That may seem like a large number of posts, but I consider in between that range to be a sweet spot for popular hashtags that are not too popular to the point that they hit the million mark for associated posts.
What other hashtags could help a London diner or event planner find this post? Try #londondining with 73,100 posts, #londonevents with 144,000 posts, #londoneventplanner with 139,000 posts, #londonevent with 62,000 posts, #eventprofsuk with 139,000 posts, and #eventprofslondon with 10,200 posts. These are specific hashtags related to the content and industry in London.
Finally, there are also unique and general hashtags in this post that are reflected in multiple EventUp posts and not specific to this restaurant in London. For example, #eventupvenues has less than 100 posts associated, but it is a unique hashtag showing all of the posts from the EventUp account. If someone was interested specifically in EventUp venues, this hashtag search would show all EventUp customers.
General hashtags like #eventprofessionals with 102,000 posts, #hospitalityindustry with 259,000 posts, #hospitalitylife with 164,000 posts, and #eventprof with 144,000 posts are more general and could potentially capture the eyes of someone interested in these topics, but not specifically in London.
There are many other hashtags that could seem relevant to the photo here, but they either have way too many or not enough associated posts to make them worth including. A hashtag with less than 1,000 associated posts probably means it is not searched very often, according to Instagram’s data. A hashtag with one or multiple million posts is likely searched very often, and therefore makes the chances that your post are found much slimmer. It is fine to add in a hashtag with searches in the millions because there is always a chance your post could do well, but it is just a bit more challenging.
By looking at the Instagram insights for this EventUp post, of the 797 impressions received from the post, 557 came from the EventUp feed, 123 from hashtags, 39 from visiting the EventUp profile, and 78 from other. The 123 impressions from hashtag search are related to the chosen hashtags in the post. While using hashtags does not guarantee high impressions and engagement on every single post, it is one way to maximize the chances of being found by the correct users.
After you’ve mastered Instagram hashtags, check out other marketing tips and tricks from the resources on our Events Industry Handbook site. Or take a look at our recent TSU Remote webinar, How Marketing Can Boost Event Bookings.