If you want to take your Instagram game to the next level, creating your own unique branded hashtag is a must. But where do you start? Don‘t worry, I‘ve got you covered.
As an Instagram influencer myself with over 50k followers, I‘ve tested my fair share of branded hashtags. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you step-by-step through exactly how to make a hashtag on Instagram that builds your brand and helps you engage your audience.
By the end, you‘ll be a branded hashtag pro!
Why You Need Your Own Hashtag on Instagram
Before we dive in, let‘s quickly cover why you even need a branded hashtag in the first place.
Here are the key benefits:
- Increased brand awareness and recognition
- Improved audience targeting and engagement
- User-generated content and social buzz
- Measurable marketing and campaign tracking
- An online community rallied around your brand
- Website traffic driving through your Instagram bio
Essentially, a great branded hashtag supercharges your Instagram marketing and helps you build an authentic connection with your ideal audience.
According to Instagram marketing firm Later, posts using branded hashtags see 7x higher engagement on average. Who wouldn‘t want that?
Now let‘s get into how to actually create one…
How to Make Your Own Branded Hashtag on Instagram
Creating your own hashtag takes a thoughtful strategy if you want maximum impact. Follow these steps:
Choose Your Hashtag Name
The hashtag name you choose is crucial. You want something that pops yet is totally recognizable as YOUR brand.
❌ Avoid: #socialmedia, #marketing – too generic
✅ Better: #JustDoIt, #ShareACoke – branded & memorable
Some tips for choosing a great name:
- Keep it short and simple – under 15 characters is ideal
- Check it‘s unique by searching Instagram to make sure no one else is using it
- Incorporate your brand name, slogan, or product identities
- Use a mix of letters and numbers if needed to create a unique option
- Test it out with friends or existing followers to see if they "get it" before launching it wide
You may need to experiment with a few options at first. But once you land on "the one", stick with it consistently over the long haul.
Start Using Your Hashtag
Now it‘s go time! Begin consistently including your shiny new branded hashtag on all your Instagram content.
The key is repetition. Use it:
- In your Instagram captions
- In comments on your posts
- On relevant Instagram Stories
- In your Instagram bio
- On cross-channel promotions pointing to Instagram
Get creative with how you work it in organically. The more exposure, the better.
Confirm Your Hashtag is Still Unique
Before you get carried away, double check that your hashtag is still free for the taking.
Go to the search bar on Instagram or Instagram.com and search for your exact branded hashtag term. If no other content comes up, you‘re golden.
If you do see unrelated posts, go back to the drawing board. A hashtag already in use by random strangers won‘t have the same impact.
Spread the Word Far and Wide
Now comes the fun part – getting the word out! Let your creativity run wild to promote adoption of your hashtag.
- Encourage followers to use it when posting relevant content
- Run contests where people must use your hashtag to enter
- Prominently display it in your Instagram bio
- Share it across other social channels like Facebook or Twitter
- Include it on any marketing materials like ads, packaging or swag
- Create Instagram or Stories posts focused just on introducing your new hashtag
- Send it out in email blasts and newsletters
- Add signage or displays with your hashtag at events or activations
Analyze Performance and Engagement
As you spread the word about your amazing new hashtag, be sure to monitor its use and performance.
Hop into Instagram analytics to track:
- Volume of posts using your hashtag over time
- Level of engagement (likes, comments, shares) on those posts
- Were hashtag posts saved or did they drive traffic to your profile or website?
- Who is using it? Influencers, brands, or general audience?
These insights will help you refine your hashtag strategy and capitalize on what‘s working.
Brand Hashtag Best Practices
Now that you know how to create a custom hashtag, let‘s go over some pro tips to maximize its impact.
🔎 Monitor it monthly – Stay on top of who is using your hashtag and for what. Make sure it doesn‘t get hijacked.
📐 Mix uppercase and lowercase – Go for #JustDoIt not #JUSTDOIT for readability.
✏️ Make it easy to spell – You want people to get it right on their first try.
💡 Freshen it up occasionally – Change your hashtag once a year or so to keep it relevant.
🙅♀️ Avoid going overboard – One or two branded hashtags per post is plenty. Don‘t overdo it.
📈 Track performance – Analyze usage and engagement in Instagram analytics to refine your approach.
🗣 Be creative in promotions – Get those creative juices flowing to spotlight your hashtag everywhere.
Now let‘s look at some stellar examples of branded hashtags done right.
Successful Branded Hashtag Campaigns
Here are a few of my favorite branded hashtag examples from mega brands:
The genius Coca-Cola campaign in 2014 brought crowdsourced personalization to their packaging. Coke printed popular names on bottles and cans and encouraged sharing photos using #ShareACoke. It exploded on social media and created massive brand love.
Nike‘s iconic slogan #JustDoIt has become a rallying mantra for athletes everywhere. As a branded hashtag, it‘s a perfect encapsulation of their motivational brand. Posts using it have racked up over 18 million tags!
#OOTD (Outfit of the Day)
Fashionistas latched onto this hashtag years ago to share their daily looks. Now #OOTD is used widely by everyday people and influencers alike. A simple hashtag concept with mass appeal.
Dove‘s long-running Self Esteem Fund aligns well with their brand purpose. Their hashtag #DoveSelfEsteem collects user generated content and stories celebrating beauty confidence.
Take notes from these winning examples and brainstorm how to craft a branded hashtag that resonates with your audience.
What to Avoid When Making a Hashtag on Instagram
We‘ve covered the dos, now here are some key don‘ts to avoid hashtag headaches:
- Forgetting to check it‘s unique before promoting it
- Changing your hashtag constantly instead of picking one and sticking to it
- Using prohibited or trademarked words and getting banned
- Creating it then never actually using it
- Picking a long, confusing hashtag no one can remember
- Assuming it can‘t be "stolen" by another brand
Be proactive with your hashtag strategy to sidestep these issues. Do your homework upfront and actively work to build ownership of your hashtag over time.
Which brings us to some common questions around owning and enforcing your rights to a branded hashtag…
FAQs: Can You Trademark a Hashtag?
Let‘s tackle some of the top frequently asked questions around branding hashtags on Instagram:
Can I trademark a hashtag?
Unfortunately you can‘t officially register a hashtag with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But you can strengthen your claim to it through consistent, long-term use across social media.
What if someone else starts using my hashtag?
If another brand tries to jump in and use your hashtag, you have a few options:
- Reach out and kindly ask them to use a different one
- Differentiate yours by adding your business name to it
- Consult a trademark attorney if the issue persists
Can someone "steal" my hashtag?
While possible, it‘s unlikely if you‘ve established consistent usage yourself. Promote proper usage in your community to minimize misuse.
Can I buy rights to a hashtag?
Some third parties claim they can sell exclusive rights to a hashtag, but Instagram doesn‘t recognize official hashtag transfers. Unique creation is best.
The bottom line – actively promote your hashtag so your usage remains the dominant association.
Key Takeaways: How to Master Branded Hashtags
Let‘s recap the key tips for creating winning branded hashtags on Instagram:
📝 Choose a short, memorable name tied to your brand
💯 Confirm the hashtag is totally unique before promoting it
🗣 Spread the word far and wide to drive ongoing adoption
💎 Be consistent and stick with one awesome hashtag long-term
📊 Analyze usage and engagement in Instagram analytics
🤝 Proactively promote proper use of it within your community
🙌 Have fun and get creative with hashtag promotions
Now you‘ve got all the inside tips to create a branded hashtag that boosts your Instagram marketing to the next level.
The opportunities to connect with your audience and track campaign performance are endless. No matter what your business does, developing a signature hashtag aligns perfectly with your Instagram growth strategy.
What are you waiting for? Got grab your perfect branded hashtag before someone else does! Let me know how it goes – I absolutely love seeing branded hashtags done right.