How to expand your social listening to Instagram

If you’re in digital or social media marketing, you probably have at least some basic keyword monitoring in place for Twitter. You keep track of what people say about your company and your brands, and maybe you even monitor your closest competitors and some general industry keywords. Twitter’s perfect for this kind of social listening, since it’s typically text-based and where so many people go to share their thoughts on everything.

But what about Instagram? Over the past few years, we’ve seen Instagram grow from a simple photo-sharing app to one of the largest social media platforms in the world. People use it for so much more than simple photo sharing now, and it’s time you consider expanding your social listening program to Instagram. And if you’re only paying attention to the activity happening on and with your Instagram accounts, you’re missing out on thousands of posts that are using hashtags to talk about you, your brand and your industry.

So, how do you set up social listening on Instagram? It’s just three simple steps:

    1. Figure out your main hashtags.
    2. Identify related hashtags.
    3. Keep track of posts using those hashtags.

1. Figure out your main hashtags. On Instagram, hashtags are the easiest and most reliable way to search for posts you’re interested in. Everyone uses them, and it’s a great way to find content about any topic you can think of. So to start, what are the general hashtags someone talking about your company might use? Look for your company, brand or product names, as well as words representing your general industry category.

For example, if you’re on the Cover Girl marketing team, you’d want to include hashtags like #CoverGirl, #makeup and #beauty, as well some more specific ones like #eyeshadow, #lipstick and so on.

2. Identify related hashtags. Once you’ve selected a few core hashtags, widen your search to uncover relevant related hashtags. Look at posts using your main hashtags and see what other hashtags are included. Start typing one of your main hashtag in Instagram’s explore section to see what other hashtags it recommends. Get creative and think of other combinations people might use in a hashtag. Drill in by searching for niche or more specific hashtags that focus on particular areas of your industry or product lines. And don’t forget your competitors – be sure you’re paying attention to the posts tagging your competitors’ products.

For the Cover Girl example, you may want to add tags like #makeuptutorial, #makeuplook, #covergirlfoundation, as well as #maybelline and #revlon.

3. Keep track of posts using those hashtags. Finally, you need some way of collecting and learning from those posts. You could just spend some time each week browsing through Instagram posts using those tags. But the better way is to set up social listening using a product built for this kind of thing. While social listening products cost money, they’ll save you lots of time, create an archive you can access later, automatically identify interesting posts or moments in a conversation, and provide metrics to help you measure against.

Of course, we recommend using Union Metrics for this! We’ve built a full-fidelity search engine on top of Instagram’s API, and it allows you to set up listening for any hashtags you’re interested in. You can even search for combinations of hashtags, like posts that include both #makeup AND #covergirl, to be sure you’re looking at only the most relevant posts. Once you get your listening set up, you can come back to it anytime to see what kinds of content people are posting and how big the conversation is, find other related hashtags, even run reports you can share to your boss.

But no matter what product you use (even though we think it should be ours!), the most important thing is that you’re doing some kind of social listening on Instagram. There’s so much happening there, and if you’re not paying attention to the full conversation, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable insight.

Want more engagement on Instagram? Our checkup analyzes the last 30 days of posts, likes and comments on your account to quickly give you key insights into how to improve.

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