In 2012 “hashtag” took the social media world by storm and was officially voted as the “word of the year” marking its entrance into everyday vernacular.
And while some may use hashtags as punchlines at the end of a post or as a clever way to categorize pics guests take at a wedding, for businesses, they’re more than a string of words with a pound sign slapped on the front (yes, I still call it a pound sign).
However, while you may throw them under the first comment of your Instagram posts, hashtags are anything but throwaway content.
With the right strategy in place, hashtags stand to drive serious traffic to your spa’s Instagram posts resulting in more attention from potential dream clients and converting that attention from scrollers-by into scheduled bookings.
So, how do you craft a spa hashtag strategy that works?
Here’s the skinny on crafting your spa’s hashtag strategy:
First, let’s cover the foundational things you need to know. These statements are based on testing I’ve done with my personal Insta account (a few hundred followers) and client accounts, which have several thousand followers and ring true across the board…
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per feed post and 10 hashtags in your Stories (as of mid-April 2019)
There is no evidence of too many hashtags being “bad” for your account. You could use 5, 15 or all 30. I’m of the mindset that you should use every opportunity to be seen, so I use anywhere from 25-30 per feed post
Putting hashtags in the caption or in the first comment has no bearing on your post’s performance
Hashtags, when used strategically, act as highly-targeted search terms and keywords
1 ) Local + Services
As a brick-and-mortar spa with actual doors that your clients need to walk through, you want to get found by people who live in your local area.
So, while you may be a #lashartist, chances are your ideal client isn’t searching the 2+ million posts under that hashtag to find the local lash artists in their city.
Instead, they’re searching #lashartistatlanta or #lashartistdenver because it’s specific to their area.
Using the hashtag #lashartist will only help you get found by other lash artists searching that tag or people who are interested in lashes, but don’t live anywhere near you. Not to mention, because that hashtag is so saturated (2+ million posts is a lot of activity under one hashtag), your content is not likely to be found through that tag since it’ll be quickly pushed down the feed.
Conversely, a tag like #lashartistatlanta doesn’t even have 500 posts, which means you’ve got a great shot of getting found by your ideal clients searching that hashtag.
2) Community Hashtags
In addition to using local hashtags that incorporate a description of your services (for example, lashes, skin, brows, etc.), you’ll also want to find popular hashtags in your area that are more generic.
For example, I live in Jacksonville, FL, so if I were a brow artist, in addition to using tags like #jacksonvillebrowartist and #jacksonvillemicroblading, I’d also use popular local tags like #jaxisrad or #jaxmoms if those community hashtags catered to my ideal client.
Search for hashtags in your area that are business focused, beauty focused, community-focused, or neighborhood/niche specific.
So, in the case of Jacksonville, FL, there are a ton of smaller neighborhoods that exist in the larger city limits such as Five Points, Riverside, San Marco, and Arlington. If your bigger city has small neighborhood boroughs, research your hashtags in that area, too.
A tip for getting started on finding these tags is to find a business in your area with a highly engaged Instagram account and look to see what hashtags they’re using, click on them and search the posts within that tag to find:
If your ideal clients are using those hashtags
Other related hashtags like the ones you’re searching (these appear at the top of the posts, see pic below.)
Other top-ranking accounts using local hashtags aka go down a ton of rabbit holes making a huge hashtag list and resource for yourself
You’ve collected your local hashtags specific to your specialty/niche (#jaxlashes, #jacksonvillelashes, #jacksonvillelashextensions, etc.)
You’ve gathered local community-based tags (#jaxisrad, #jaxmoms, #jacksonvilleblogger, etc.)
Now let’s consider your future goals and what industry media outlets you may want your work featured.
For example, if you use Borboleta lashes in your spa, you might want to use: #borboletabeauty (the brand’s related hashtag mentioned in their bio), #borboletalashes, or #borbylashes.
(Side note: This last hashtag, #borbylashes, I found by clicking on a “Top” post under the #borboletalashes feed, then looked at all the hashtags under that post, then I clicked on #borbylashes, it wasn’t a “related hashtag,” I had to dig for it! aka reasons you have to go down rabbit holes!)
Of course, these hashtags won’t get you found by potential clients per se, but will put you in front of brands, influencers, or media gatekeepers in your industry who may present you with:
Speaking gigs or media highlights
These are just a few additional ways that you can expand your influence beyond your brick-and-mortar location while leveraging your same Instagram account. Hashtags will help you do it.
So, find 10-20 influencer related hashtags around your niche and specialty, the products and brands you use, and media outlets (magazines, conferences, podcasts) and mix a few of those that are appropriate for what you’re posting into your post’s hashtag grouping.
THE BIG CAVEAT
The goal of hashtags isn’t to get in front of the MOST people, but the right people.
There are millions of users on Instagram, but maybe there are only a few thousand people in your city who qualify as your ideal client, so while using widely used hashtags such as #lashartist or #esthetician or #instagood will likely get you a lot of likes (from bots or randoms), that’s not the goal.
Don’t judge your post based on the vanity metrics such as likes and followers, judge it by the amount of conversation you’re creating, which includes comments and direct messages from your ideal clients.
It won’t happen overnight, but with consistency, continually putting out high-quality and valuable content (that can actually get found by your dream clients using the right hashtags), and engaging and being social on the platform, you’ll begin to see your community take shape and your spa’s bookings increase.