3 Tips to keep your brand's hashtag sanity on Instagram

Hashtags… where would social media be without them? Would content marketing even exist without hashtags? #tags, we've all used and abused them. 

With the lookbook publication platform Qrtd, I extensively tested hashtags as one of the ways to create an automated themed Instagram curation. Hashtags are great to filter out useful Instagram content. With the Fashion Week Observer in particular I've covered the fashion related content during the last fashionweeks (FW 15). It gave me new insights in the use of hashtags for fashion brands and live event-coverage. In retrospect, my observations are not restricted to the fashion business. My recommendations apply to any brand or marketing related content.

Grabbing the moment

Much to my surprise hashtags work very well for covering events. With the FWO I was amazed how much valuable content pops up by using the hashtag of the fashion show that is on at the moment. "Grab the moment" here is the message…during the event the return is 95% accurate and to the point. 

The bigger the nastier

However the large luxury fashion houses faced problems… they are targeted by the true hash-holes, the parasites who miss-use the hashtag to sell fake and poor copies or even unrelated items. When your fashion brand - apart from a clothing line - also has successful perfume, sunglasses and bag collections your brand faces an army of spammers.

Armed with the Instagram app you can inspect your brand’s hashtag vulnerability and with a good strategy you can reduce the damage.

Check out these 3 recommendations

1. Perform a hashtag search on your brand in Instagram.

Check the tags that are returned. When not many variations from the original tag pop up your brand is OK. Extensive hashtag lists means trouble. Your brand is vulnerable! Select such a tag and check how much off-topic IGs pop up… you will be surprised.

2. Introduce event tags

It's always a good idea to introduce event tags and promote them. Especially for the polluted brands this is an opportunity to start with a clean slate in messaging. 

An nice example was the last Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week (FW15). The show's venue was the wonderful Fondation Louis Vuitton. During the event the polluted #LouisVuitton-tag didn't have good event coverage results but #FondationLouisVuitton on the otherhand delivered pure gold!

3. Instagram has a dedicated button to report hash holes…Use it!


Select the more-icon (3 dots) located bottom right under every Instagram picture… "Report Unappropriate" will pop up a number of reasons. Select: "The photo is spam or scam". Instagram is known for it's efforts to fight dodgy accounts. In the past they've organized a big clean up of all fake and spammy accounts and that's good thing.  

So the Instagram community in general and Brand Managers in particular better start using this weapon against blatant brand abuse.