We always talk about using hashtags to 'grow' or 'build' our business and social media (myself included). But today I want to talk about how to use hashtags to truly connect with your community (which is SO much more than copying and pasting your top hashtags into the first comment of your post). It's about using hashtags in a way to actually engage with people (as opposed to just building your followers).
And while hashtags seem to be getting a bad rap with all of the automated bots and shadow banning that's been happening, I still believe they're a great way to find and connect with your tribe. Not the only way, but a great way!
So here are three ways that I use hashtags that help me feel connected -
Use nice hashtags to tap into a community with similar interests to you
When working with clients on their ideal social media community, I always ask them to identify:
Places where their ideal client are hanging out (e.g. coffee shops, yoga or pilates studios, events)
Communities that their ideal client are involved in (e.g. B-School, BYCA, Soulpreneurs)
Businesses where their ideal client love to shop (e.g. Kikki.K, Lemon Canary, Violet Gray)
I ask them to identify these things because it opens up a community that they can then tap into. I always say that tapping into a community is a lot easier than connecting with people outside of a community. This is because people who are part of a community already have a clear idea of what they’re passionate about and are engaged and open to connecting with others.
This is where you come in because you can use these like-minded communities to do some hashtag research.
Here is how you do it:
Identify like-minded communities (e.g. I work with lots of BYCA coaches and doTERRA wellness advocates)
Do some hashtag research (read this article here for more instructions) and discover any hashtags related to that community (e.g. #byca)
Search this hashtag and start connecting (follow them, like their photos and write meaningful comments on their posts) with the people who use it
You might even like to add the hashtag to your own hashtag library (use common sense with this one as you won't want to use a hashtag that is only used by paid community members)
Looking for more hashtags for your hashtag library? You’ll LOVE the Ultimate Hashtag Library for Coaches and Creatives!
I mentioned that I use this strategy for connecting with BYCA coaches and doTERRA wellness advocates but I also love using this strategy for events that I know my ideal client are attending. When I first started my business, I attended Unconvention with a room full of business owners and entrepreneurs. I mostly used Twitter throughout the day but when I got home, I hopped on Instagram and searched the hashtag to connect with people who’d been in the room but I hadn’t had a chance to meet. I was lucky enough to connect with the beautiful Kylie from It Starts With Us Events which lead to an incredible friendship and the opportunity to speak at one of her events last year.
I do this for every major event that I attend and I’ve even done it for events that I can’t make. When I was too sick to head to Utopia Wellness Festival one year, I stayed up to date with the event through the official hashtag and used it to connect with people who were there - without having to leave the comfort of my bed!
Use location-specific hashtags to tap into a community that lives near you
Do you have a bricks-and-mortar business that serves people in your local community? Or maybe you’re an online business owner who LOVES to connect in-person with clients when you can? Well this one is for you! Location-specific hashtags are perfect for tapping into your local community!
Here is how you do it:
Start by searching your location in the ‘tags’ section of Instagram (e.g. Melbourne, Gold Coast, Byron Bay)
Instagram will then bring up a list of hashtags (e.g. #melbourne #melbournefood #melbourneblogger)
Look for appropriate hashtags and click on them to discover and connect with the people using them
When you’ve clicked on a hashtag, you can also find a list of ‘related’ hashtags
Add these hashtags to your own hashtag library
Want to know more about hashtag research? Check out my Lady Boss Guide to Building Your Biz with Hashtags here.
I used this strategy when I first moved to Melbourne and it really helped me to understand the local business scene, connect with people in the areas (which is so important when moving to a new town) and identify communities that I wanted to be a part of (and where my ideal clients were hanging out). I now have a thriving community based in Melbourne and am lucky to work and collaborate with a number of local businesses!
This strategy also works well if you run events or workshops across the country and want to build your community in different cities and towns.
Create your own hashtag and encourage your community to use it
So far we’ve spoken a lot about tapping into other people’s hashtags to find and connect with your ideal clients but why not create your own hashtag to encourage your tribe to connect and engage with you and others on a new level? Creating your own hashtag is as simple as selecting a hashtag that isn’t currently being used (e.g. #sophiezensocial) and adding it to your hashtag library to be used on your posts.
Now that you’re using it on your own posts, you want to encourage other people to use it too!
Here is how you do it:
Tell people about your hashtag. A great way to do this is to include it in your bio (see example from @risingtidesociety)
Give people a reason to use the hashtag (e.g. #risingtidesociety gives people a chance to be featured on a hugely popular Instagram account)
Connect with the people who use the hashtag to help build a relationship!
Some other ways you can use your own hashtag:
Run an Instagram challenge and encourage people to join in with the hashtag
Run a competition and give people a chance to win by using the hashtag
Use hashtags to tell a story and allow people to learn more about you (@jetsetmama does this SO well)
When I first started my business, I used #sophiezen on every post that I shared. This soon caught on and my community began using the hashtag to share my content too.
Ultimately, this will give you insight into who is truly engaged in your business. Knowing this allows you to nurture those relationships and build a strong community!
So I hope you’re feeling convinced that hashtags aren’t all doom and gloom and there are still ways that you can use them in an aligned way!
Want to take your hashtag game to the next level? Combine these hashtag tips with your own hashtag library and watch your community thrive!
And if you want to learn more about using hashtags on social media then you'll love Sacred Social - an online course that walks you through the seven pillars that make up sacred and successful social media!