• Mikaela Vargas

Instagram Hashtag Tips & Tricks For The Pet Industry

Updated: Apr 6

Pets and social media = a match made in heaven. We need no further proof than the adorable viral videos that we see splashed across our feed. Plus, there’s really nothing cuter than our pets, right!?


But how do you actually harness the power of social media when it comes to growing your pet business? The short & simple answer - you want to focus on creating meaningful and engaging content while also mastering a few simple practices.


One of the hardest aspects of leveraging your Instagram account is first understanding how an audience often searches for content. 


You’ve heard of ‘em! Love them or hate them, they’re necessary for social media. 


That’s right...#hashtags



What are Hashtags?


Simply put, hashtags are a great way for a user to search relevant topics of interest. More importantly, they allow users to find their community. Click on one of those bad boys and you’re instantly connected to and viewing thousands of relevant content related to your search! Learning how to strategically use hashtags will allow for greater engagement, relationship building, and can even lead to the growth of your pet business.



How To Get Started With Hashtags


The first step to using hashtags effectively is to do a simple search of what users are already posting. Some of these you may already be familiar with: #dogsofinstagram, #dogoftheday, #catsofinstagram, and #catoftheday.  While you may find some great content here, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest searching for these when looking to grow your business community. Instead, find ones that are more ‘niched down’ and relevant to your specific business and start following them.  



The same goes for posting Instagram content. The most popular hashtags (i.e. the ones with millions of posts) are likely not ideal. I suggest aiming for the smaller but more relevant ones, especially if you’re a brick & mortar or local pet business like dog walkers, groomers, pet stores, trainers or veterinarians. Look for smaller niche hashtags starting around 2000-3000 uses and upwards to about 250K uses (this is a rough range). Anything more than that and your post may get lost instantly. When you post with hashtags that fall within this smaller range, you increase the likelihood that your post will get seen when others search for the hashtag!


Some of these more relevant hashtags should be related to your specific area, especially if you’re a local business. Some examples may include: #sandiegodogs #coronadodogbeach or #sandiegodogwalker. See how you are more likely to expand your business with these hashtags compared to #dogsofinstagram?



Now that we understand how to search for hashtags and which number count to follow, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper into finding the right ones that can actually bring you new clients or customers. 



Searching For & Following The Right Hashtags


Take a minute to understand who your audience is, what they do, and what they enjoy. Are there events in your local community you can search for? Popular dog parks? Does your audience vibe more with an organic and adventurous tone or a stay at home and relax vibe? Understanding who your audience is and what they’re passionate about is the key to building a relationship with them, especially when it comes to finding them on Instagram through hashtags. 



Hashtag Engagement


Once you find and follow the hashtags you want, begin interacting with accounts that use the hashtags. Begin liking and commenting on their photos, providing relevant information, complimenting them, or asking them genuine questions. If you try to pitch your services or just ask for them to follow you, it’ll be an immediate red flag.  Be sure to focus on community building here, not just getting a follower or customer.




What Other Hashtags Should I Use?


Using a few important hashtags that are meaningful to your business is useful for branding, but change it up to ensure you’re not copying and pasting in the same block of hashtags each time to avoid being flagged as spam. Instagram has algorithms to detect such practices and you don’t want to unintentionally fall into that category! So, be sure to use hashtags that are actually related to the post!


And remember, you can use up to 30 hashtags in each post - that doesn’t mean you need to use all 30 of them, but just know that that’s what you’re working with. Each one of those 30 slots is a way for your business to be found.



Should I Automatically Share My Instagram Post To Facebook?


Many businesses prefer automatically sharing their Instagram post to Facebook. While this saves us time, the two platforms are very different. It’s important to understand those differences so that you can utilize them to your best advantage. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. When used properly, you garner meaningful engagement from your audience. However, on Facebook, using that many hashtags can come across as salesy or spammy. To avoid this, post separately. For Facebook, reduce those hashtags to a 1 or 2 (if you really want to use some) and keep it meaningful to your content.




Where Do I Place My Hashtags On Instagram?


One of the most popular questions regarding hashtags is, “Where the heck do I put them? In the caption or a comment?”


Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether you should place them directly in the caption or as a separate comment within Instagram. So, I’ll say, at least at the time of posting this blog (June, 2019), it really comes down to preference, intuition, and what works for your business. But don’t worry, wherever you place it, your hashtag will be discoverable.


Should you decide to list them in the caption, create space between the caption and the hashtags. It’s more visually appealing to your audience and will allow your audience to focus on your message instead of getting lost in a sea of hashtags. (Pro tip: sometimes Instagram will smoosh your caption together after you’ve added line breaks to your caption. Make sure there are no spaces after each line of text and the blank lines will show up correctly!)



Ok, Enough About Hashtags. What’s The Moral Of This Story?


Above all, in everything you create and post, you want to engage, engage, engage. Social media is exactly that... social! Users are looking for that connection and community. You must remember that behind each and every follower, like, and hashtag use, there is a real human being. They desire stories, inspiration, and interaction from people they trust. To be successful at this, you must love what you’re doing and do it with intention. It can’t merely be a means to an end. As a business owner, I assume you care about your service or product. The key to social media success is to transfer that passion into your posts so that your audience can feel it, too! By being consistent, meaningful, and intentional with your posts and hashtags, you will be able to build your audience and as a result, grow your pet business.



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