Instagram Outreach Marketing Tip: Leverage the Right Hashtags to Create a Brand Identity

As you know, at GroupHigh, we are all about defining influence by contextual affinities over numerical qualifiers like followers and traffic data.

We always recommend that our clients use contextually relevant or genre-based keywords when searching for new blogs to ensure they’re accessing the appropriate vertices. For example, one could search for blogs based on keywords like “travel,” or “fashion.” From there, keywords within the genre should be applied such as “backpacking” or “vegan fashion” to target the right influencers.

We apply this same philosophy to Instagram hashtagging and recommend an Instagram strategy that implements brand specific hashtags, campaign specific hashtags and trending hashtags.

Types of Hashtags to Use

Keeping hashtags both broad and granular is a great way to engage like-minded Instagrammers who may not know about your particular brand or product. At the same time, it’s important to also use brand or campaign specific hashtags in order to engage followers continually and build a defined social media identity.

Just like a logo or slogan, look at hashtags as a way for brands to offer a bite sized, fast, and recognizable way to connect with their audience.

  • Brand Specific Hashtags– Use a hashtag that is creative, but relevant enough to your brand to be recognized and associated quickly by social media users. Use your brand specific hashtag across all social channels, in all content posts, and between various campaigns to solidify the association between that tag and your brand name.
  • Campaign Specific Hashtags– Include new, unique hashtags to represent things like specific social media campaigns, product pushes, or events.
  • Trending Hashtags- Try using a contextually relevant and popular hashtag to appeal to Instagrammers who are following a certain topic but don’t follow you. Yet.

How to Apply Different Hashtags to Appeal to Different Consumers

Say, hypothetically, that I work for a athletic shoe company called “Tight Laces”, and I’m running an Instagram campaign to promote a new line of running shoes.

I would start by Instagraming photos of the new product using brand specific hashtags like #running, and #athletics to broaden visibility.

I could then include my campaign specific hashtag which would be something like #TightLaces, or a short slogan coined by our brand. (I’m thinking I should start a shoe company…)

Perhaps I also want to run an engagement campaign with user generated content…I could use a unique hashtag like #tightlacetuesday and have consumers post pictures of their new shoes and running adventures every Tuesday.

TOMS is Killing It

One brand using a multi-hashtag Instagram approach is TOMS.

With nearly half a million Instagram followers, the philanthropic shoe company uses hashtags in a way that keeps the TOMS brands narrative exciting for their followers and showcases new projects.

Here is one of my own Instagram posts that I shared of my much loved TOMS:

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The tags #TOMS and #TOMSshoes are commonly used for daily content, while #TOMSRoastingCo is used to connect photos specific to the brand’s line of coffee products.

Even more, the hashtag #oneforone is often included to represent the company’s mission of donating a pair of shoes to a person in need for each pair bought- a genius way of showing consumers firsthand how their TOMS purchases impact communities around the world.

This month, TOMS is teaming up with Target and expanding the #oneforone donations to a variety of products including t-shirts and blankets, and consumers are encouraged to use the hashtag #tomsfortarget to share their experiences (and cool new stuff).

Leverage Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags are trending for a reason. They also provide endless opportunity for brands to get creative with their marketing. Aligning Instagram or Twitter content with a widely known but seemingly unrelated trend can be a great way to reach a wide audience and show off a brand’s personality.

Oreo is notorious for having a clever and effective content marketing strategy, so it’s no surprise that the cookie brand leverages trending tags to keep their messaging relevant and exciting.  During the 2014 World Cup, Oreo posted an Instagram video wishing team USA luck in their game against Ghana, and used the hashtags #USMINT and #USAvGHA along with thousands of other rooting fans.

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Random question: What do Oreo cookies and Fashion Week have in common? The answer is very little, which made the irony of this post humorous, impressionable, and searchable by anyone viewing the over 1.5 million #fashionweek hashtag results on Instagram. 

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Getting Started

You don’t have to be Oreo or TOMS to be strategic with Instagram hashtags, even the little guys can do it. The key is to start simple.

  • Search Instagram hashtags that are relevant to your brand’s industry or genre for new hashtag and content ideas.
  • Start using those hashtags (I recommend at least 5) in all of your photos regardless of specific relevance.

As I’ve started playing around with Instagram for GroupHigh, I often post pictures of the team doing fun activates to feature company culture (Ex. Visiting the pumpkin patch) but use hashtags related to social media and blogger outreach marketing.

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Do you have an Instagram marketing tip or question? Let’s chat in the comments section or reach out to me at

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