Social media is a highly effective tool for small businesses to attract new customers - there’s no doubt about it.
Among the many platforms, Instagram is one of the most popular choices, especially for service-based businesses that use it to showcase their offerings and connect with potential clients.
In particular, detailers and detailing businesses can benefit greatly from using Instagram as a marketing tool. With its visual nature, this platform allows you to showcase your work and highlight the amazing results and benefits you bring to your customers.
Now, in the early days of Instagram, it was a breeze for detailing businesses to get their content in front of a large number of people. However, with the algorithm changes in the past few years, getting your name out there has become much more challenging. And with so many detailing businesses using Instagram for marketing, standing out from the crowd is harder than ever.
Despite these challenges, Instagram is an incredibly powerful platform. With a strategic approach and a little bit of creativity, you can still reach a broad audience and generate leads for your business.
The key word here is "strategic".
There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to creating an effective Instagram marketing strategy. Hashtags are one of those pieces, and in this article, we'll take a closer look at how you can use them to your advantage.
What Is A Hashtag Strategy?
Having a hashtag strategy in place basically means using relevant hashtags in your Instagram posts to increase their visibility and reach your target audience - potential customers who are interested in detailing services. This is super important since hashtags are the one thing that makes your Instagram posts searchable.
Think of hashtags as little flags that tell Instagram what your post is all about and who might be interested in seeing it.
So yeah, although hashtags may seem like a silly way to add a little flare to your Instagram post, they can actually be crucial for getting your businesses noticed by the right people.
How Does The Instagram Algorithm Work?
Let’s take a step back now to talk about the Instagram algorithm.
When you make a post, Instagram looks at how it’s performing with your audience. If your followers engage with it by liking, commenting, saving, or sharing, the algorithm understands that your content is valuable and starts showing it to more people who are interested in similar topics, in this case, cars, boats, detailing, etc.
The algorithm is like a virtual bouncer that decides which posts get seen by which users.
So, how do hashtags fit into all of this?
Well, when you add hashtags to your post, you're giving Instagram some extra information that can help it decide who to show your post to.
For example, let's say you own a detailing business here in Texas. If you add the hashtags #premiumdetailing and #texasbusiness to your post, Instagram will know that it’s related to luxury car detailing in Texas. This way, when someone searches for these hashtags or has interacted with posts related to luxury cars, detailing, or businesses based in Texas, yours is more likely to show up on their explore page.
Types of Hashtags You Should Use
When choosing hashtags for your Instagram posts, it’s important to make use of all the different types of hashtags out there. Let’s go through them one by one.
Used to categorize content related to a particular industry. For example, #car is an industry hashtag for sharing different content related to the automotive industry.
Used to target specific, smaller communities within an industry. For example, #detailing is a niche hashtag that would be used by those who are especially interested in car detailing.
Used to promote specific products or services. For example, #ceramiccoating is a product/service hashtag perfect for promoting this specific type of car paint protection.
Used to connect with others who are interested in a particular topic within one community or location. For example, #detailersofig will help you connect with other detailing enthusiasts on Instagram, and #dallas will get you in front of the eyes of Dallas locals.
Used to participate in current trends and conversations. For example, using the hashtag #hydrophobic will help you jump on the bandwagon of sharing the effects and benefits of hydrophobic coatings.
Used for building brand awareness and encouraging user-generated content. For example, #getundrdog is a branded hashtag we use to promote our products and loyal customers.
Important: Keep Your Hashtags Relevant & Specific
Trendy hashtags are great for reaching a wider audience, but a lot of people use them the wrong way.
The thing is, including popular hashtags like #foodporn or #ootd might seem like a good idea as lots of people are searching for them, but if your post has nothing to do with food or fashion, you’re going to attract the wrong audience - people who are not going to engage with your content and that will never be your customers.
Another reason to avoid trendy hashtags is the fact that they quickly become saturated. And unless your content is seriously good (like next-level good), you won’t be able to stand out from the crowd.
On the other hand, if you use relevant hashtags, you’ll get your pics and videos in front of a smaller audience, but one that’s actually interested in the things you post about.
Apart from being relevant, it’s wise to keep your Instagram hashtags specific. This means staying away from high-volume hashtags like #detailer if you don’t already have a large, engaged following.
Because when you search for a hashtag on Instagram, you are automatically taken to the “Top” tab, which contains the most popular posts with that hashtag. Next to it is the “Recent” tab, which shows the most recent posts that have used it.
By using hashtags that are more niche, your account will have a better chance of appearing in the Top tab, which is where most users are going to be. As you grow your Instagram presence, you can (and should!) start using bigger hashtags which will allow you to reach an even wider audience.
Here’s an example to help demonstrate what we’re saying.
Imagine you’ve just posted a great photo of a car you recently coated with the hashtag #car. When someone searches for that hashtag on Instagram, the likelihood of your post appearing in their “Top’ tab is very small since you’ll be competing with millions of posts by huge accounts. And even if someone notices your post in that ocean of content but you’re in Phoenix and they’re in New York City, that person will never become a customer.
Conversely, if you use more targeted hashtags like #paintcorrectionspecialists or #arizonalocal, your content will have a chance to be seen by potential customers.
How Many Hashtags Is The Right Amount?
Most people use 5-10 hashtags on their Instagram posts, but the platform allows for up to 30. That said, using 30 hashtags on every post may come across as spammy. Our suggestion is to find a sweet spot of 15-25. This way you’ll be using all the potential of hashtags without the risk of annoying your audience and losing engagement.
And if you’re still concerned that your content will look like spam, there’s a way around it. Put your hashtags in the comments instead of the caption. Your post will still be searchable, but it won’t look cluttered.
What Are Hashtag Sets And How Do You Make One?
Coming up with 15-25 hashtags every time you want to make a post is seriously frustrating and time-consuming.
Instead, you can streamline your hashtag strategy by creating sets of hashtags to alternate between. For example, you can have one set for detailing before and afters, one for coating jobs, one for car washing, etc. Then you can just copy and paste your hashtags without having to think too much about it.
Besides saving your time and energy, having a variety of hashtag sets prepared is great since the Instagram algorithm doesn’t like when people use the same hashtags over and over again. This leads to a decrease in reach, which is a major bummer.
So, how do you go about creating your hashtags sets?
One way is spending hours using the Instagram search function and looking at what your competitors are using to come up with a list of potential hashtags that may or may not work.
If that doesn’t sound like something you want to do, we’ve got you covered. The Undrdog team created a Google Sheet with 500+ hashtags relevant to detailing businesses. You can download your free copy here, along with simple usage instructions that will help you create effective hashtag sets in literally no time!
To Sum Up
Developing a strong hashtag strategy is a must for building your detailing business’ Instagram account. It will help you increase your visibility on the platform, attract potential customers and generate leads for your business by guiding the Instagram algorithm to understand who your content is right for.
To help you get started, we've created a cheat sheet that outlines all the different types and volumes of hashtags you should be using on Instagram. From relevant industry and niche hashtags to specific product/service and branded hashtags, this cheat sheet really covers it all. Plus, it provides a simple formula for crafting your new hashtag sets with ease!
We recommend that you create multiple hashtag sets and test them over a certain period of time. Use your Instagram insights to figure out which sets are getting your business the highest reach and engagement, and make sure to optimize them over time to stay on top of Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm.