Today, we’re going to get really zero in on a specific marketing strategy. It’s a powerful, free tool that grows your fanbase on social media. And before you hear the word, don’t write this strategy off before hearing the advantages around it.
So, before I say it, let me ask you something. If there was a way to isolate fans that like a specific genre or style that might like the same things you do so you can grow your fanbase quicker, would you be interested? If it didn’t cost money to do this except maybe 15 minutes a day, would be curious? Also, if there was a way to stand out on social media so your content can catch the attention of potential fans on feeds, would you give it a shot?
Well, you might be surprised to hear that… hashtags actually do this. One of the reasons I try not mentioning it right off the bat is because hashtags can look and feel tacky. I know that for myself, I hated seeing them, I thought it looked messy. I also hated using them because it felt desperate. But why did I feel that way? It’s because I didn’t really understand them, and because I felt that way about hashtags, I felt insecure about using them myself.
But because they are the answers to the questions I mentioned, it was a sufficient enough reason to put aside those illogical feels and give them a try. As a marketer, I’ve tried it for a number of campaigns and it’s only benefited me in terms of post engagement, follower growth, and even sales.
So, if you were anything like me, are you ready to set aside your feelings around hashtags? If you’re answer is yes, awesome. Let’s keep chatting.
So, what is a hashtag? Hashtags is social tool used in Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to pool together similar topics under the hashtag categories. Some people use it as way to express something, but there is an actual technicality to the tool. For example, a common hashtag someone might use is #lifeisanadventure. People might use this as a phrase, but there is a collection of images that are gathered together under this link for people to view.
For Twitter, you are limited to the characters, so you can have any number of hashtags that the character limits allow. On Facebook, you can use as many hashtags, but the hashtag collection is pretty limited and not used as much. On Instagram, you have a limit to 30. And out of all the social platforms, Instagram has the most organic discovery because of its visual component.
Weddings, events, and trends might use a hashtag to gather information so that others can also experience the event or moment too. It’s a place to collect thoughts, ideas, inspiration, experiences, and more.
For an independent musician just starting out, this is actually really powerful. If you have a very small following or a following of unengaged fans, you can literally change your following activity by using hashtags. Even if you have a large following and you’re at a standstill – hashtags can change the game.
Your following and organic engagement activity can only reach so much. But about the people that don’t follow you? And what if you’re existing followers aren’t contributing to your engagement enough to appear not he explore page for additional discovery? Hashtags give that extra push.
Because you can use 30 different hashtags, you can reach a widespread of folks within your niche. As I’ve mentioned before in previous episodes, you can’t be everything to everyone. It’s just not effective, it’s impossible, and no successful artist is truly “everything to everyone”. So, when I say “widespread” of folks within your niche, I mean using hashtags that aren’t just related to music. You might touch on interests that your fans might share.
For example, if you’re a folk, singer-songwriter based in Oregon with soothing melodies, a rough voice, natural instruments and introverted lyrics – you might have have fans that – say – enjoy art, adventure, vegan baking and/or hipster beer. So, content you’d post would be music, your lifestyle (which might be similar to your fans), and thinks you enjoy. Because chances are your fans may enjoy the same things do. Being able to connect with your fans makes you more human and relatable.
So, how do you leverage in hashtags in all of that?
On your phone you might want to have a running list of hashtags for different types of posts. You should also have “staple” hashtags that you’ll include in every single list. Just as a reminder, you may only have 30 hashtags on Instagram. If you go beyond that, your caption or comment will not post. So, make sure that you’re being tactful and strategic with the hashtags you choose.
So, let’s say you make a behind the scenes post of you playing guitar outside, admiring an amazing view of a river. First, this image shows that you’re a musician, but second it also shows what you love – nature, being alone, and being introspective. This is just going back to the genre I mentioned earlier.
Now, for a hashtag, you might use singer-songwriter, diy musician, folk singer, life is an adventure, be yourself, life is pretty, etcetera. What this does is place yourself in categories where fans might be looking for new music. This also allows you to share an experience that another potential fan might enjoy. It makes that potential fan more inclined to check you out, listen to your music, and become a fan. All because of a hashtag.
But you don’t want to use any hashtag. And you don’t want to use the same running list of hashtags for every single image. Because chances are you’re hopefully creating content that’s similar thematically to your brand, but different in terms of content. For example, you’ll have content related to inspiration, behind the scenes, lifestyle, music, covers, or words of encouragement. So you might have, say, 5 different lists for your hashtag categories.
In addition to your hashtag categories, you’ll need hashtags that have a substantial amount of people using it and relevant. This means you’ll need to do your research.
At the time of this recording, there is a search icon on the bottom of the app just left to the “add post” button. It looks like a magnifying glass. There are three tabs you can choose from, and one of them reads “tags”. This is where you can find hashtags. If you search a specific hashtag like “singer songwriter” it will show the number of posts on that tag, which is an indication of activity.
And below that hashtag and post count, there are a list of related hashtags that people use. This is an important list to look through in case you run out of ideas to use. This is also important because it shows other hashtags that are frequently used related to that category so you can fine tune the fans you have. Using multiple hashtags allows you to be exposed to different pools of traffic, but still keeps you specified which is crucial to finding the fans that are most likely to love you.