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Your hashtag strategy is all wrong

I was recently told by an 'Instagram Guru' that my hashtag strategy was all wrong. That I was being too specific, that I needed to include big-hitting, widely used hashtags to increase my reach. I’ll be honest, it made me pretty annoyed, and for a moment, I questioned my 15+ years of marketing experience. 


And then I realised something. Sure they have thousands of followers, get lots of freebies for sponsored posts and on the face of it, where becoming a pretty strong influencer. BUT, they had missed a key fundamental point. I wasn’t trying to become a social media influencer to the world. I was trying to build a specific audience of potential buyers for a B2B tourism business. Even after more explanation, they still disagreed with my approach.


A part of me doubted myself. So, I did what any good digital marketer would do. I tested it. I posted a series of strong images on Instagram, including some of the most widely used travel hashtags. You’ll know the type, #travelgram #instatravel and a whole load more. The likes and follows trickled in, more so than any of my usual posts.


It gave me an uneasy feeling that I had been wrong. However, upon close inspection of the posts engagements, it was as I had initially expected. Yes the posts had more traction, but with a diverse audience who were never going to be potential customers. So what was the point in engaging with them? They were not a target audience and if we continued to communicate in this way, we’d inflate our follower numbers, but not with a core audience. And we most certainly wouldn’t see any increase in website visits, enquires or newsletter sign-ups from potential clients - the real numbers that mattered. 


Sometimes even ‘expert’ advice can be off the mark; and it’s not always easy to spot. To limit the risk of getting the wrong advice, here’s what I would do:

  1. Find an expert in your industry - someone who already knows the playbook will have an enormous amount of understanding of your audiences, the nuances of your industry and can offer your examples of similar work they’ve done in the past

  2. Be crystal clear on who you are trying to target with any marketing campaign - are your buyers on Facebook or Instagram? Do they use it for work, or lifestyle? What hashtags do they use?

  3. Spend time creating a buyer profiles, including hashtag cheatsheets if you’ll be using social media to communicate with them. This will not only save you a massive amount of time when you are posting, it will also keep your posts focused and relevant 


So, I didn’t listen to the ‘expert’ advice, but what I did do was go back to my keyword and hashtag lists to review and expand them. Not with more general terms, but with even more industry and buyer specific words and phrases. So far, the results have been pretty good. Maybe I do have to thank the guru for advice. On what not to do ;) 

#instagram #freelancemarketing #tourismmarketing #smallbusinessmarketing #marketing #eventsmarketing #eventprofs #hospitalityindustry #instagramstrategy #marketingconsultant #ignoringexpertadvice

Photo by Daria Shevtsova, Unsplash

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