By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms

Social media is one of the best, most convenient ways to promote your business and boost your social campaigns. One of the most popular social platforms around is Instagram, known for popularizing hashtags as an effective method of communication and expanded reach.

The popular social network boasts one billion monthly active users according to Statista, proving it's a solid platform on which to market your business. Optimizing your hashtags for greater likes, shares and engagement is a strategy that's sure to help grow your follower list, further your reach and turn visitors into paying customers.

Instagram users now have the option to follow certain hashtags, so if they want to keep tabs on what's new with your brand, it's now easier than ever to do so. If you're looking for ways to use hashtags to boost your Instagram campaigns, here are a few ways to get started.

Create hashtags for your brand.

There are several reasons why it's beneficial to create branded hashtags for your Instagram posts. For one, they can become the main hashtags used to refer to your business and are unique and particular to you. They are also a great tool for showcasing user-generated content from users who upload photos of your products. This content can then get shared across social media platforms to boost your visibility and bring in new followers.

McDonald's popular "I'm lovin' it" jingle made its debut in 2003 and has stuck ever since. Searching #imlovinit on Instagram generates more than 500 thousand results, many of which are related to McDonald's and its products.

Come up with hashtags that properly represent your brand and its mission. Stick to keywords that tell visitors what your brand is about and what it does in addition to who it serves. Create hashtags for separate campaigns so you can track their engagement. Don't be afraid to get creative and think outside the box -- Instagram is a platform that thrives on creativity and new ideas.

Join the conversation.

People love to keep up with trending topics to see all the latest news. That's why it's important to keep up with trending hashtags and keywords in order to create content for your profile that's relevant and of great interest to Instagram users.

Trending hashtags are essential to your campaign's growth strategy because they get you noticed by users already interested in the topic. By adding your brand into the equation, you expand your reach and encourage engagement from visitors who are likely to check out your Instagram profile and follow you if they like what they see.

However, it's important that whatever topic you post or comment on is still somehow relevant to your brand. It makes no sense to upload content about beauty and fashion but use sports-related hashtags along with it. This will get you nowhere because you aren't targeting the right market, and the market that is seeing your content probably has little interest in it.

Promote giveaways or events.

Have you thrown a giveaway or contest for your followers to hype up their excitement? Or, have you hosted an event to promote your products and services to a new audience? Whatever the case may be, Instagram is a great platform to promote your business and get it in front of new people.

Create a hashtag specific to your event or contest. Make it obvious that this hashtag represents your business, but make sure it is still simple for users to understand at a glance. The more difficult or overly lengthy you make the hashtag, the more difficult it will be for users to care.

Before the event takes place, encourage your followers to use your hashtag if they plan on coming or entering in the giveaway. This will promote your business, its products and the event taking place so that more users are aware of it. Continue to encourage the use of your special hashtag throughout the process so that any last-minute visitors still have a chance to engage with you.

Wrapping up.

When you properly utilize hashtags, you'll see what a boon they can be to your business and its growth. With social media growing more every day, users are going to continue seeking out the content they want on these platforms using hashtags. If that content is yours, you'll see an increase in followers, reach and engagement.

Jared Atchison is the co-founder of WPForms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that's being used on over 400,000 websites.

Published on: Apr 10, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.