We recently had a long discussion with one of our clients about new ways we could expand awareness of their brand, but more importantly how could we do it on a shoestring budget?

He then mentioned that during a weekend BBQ, one of his “young punk” nephews said, “Uncle, why don’t you use Instagram and use hash browns to get visibility?” — well, “hash browns” is what our client said, but what he actually meant was hashtags — so on went the topic of what a hashtag actually is and how to use it to gain visibility and new leads and to generate interest.

For those of you that don’t know what a hashtag is, it’s simply this: #. But this little hashtag symbol can have great power and influence within social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, our new commander in chief loves to use them: #MakeAmericaGreatAgain or #MAGA.

So for our discussion in this article we’re going to mainly focus within Instagram, because we feel that Twitter is a major waste of time, and within Facebook hashtags do only so-so. We have found where you’ll get more bang for your buck is within Instagram, because it generates a number of images and videos for them to view.

The first thing to understand is that all social media needs to be handled lightly. If you simply post ads and boring topics, such as “Top 10 Reasons Why You Need A Home Security System,” chances are you’re not going to get any engagement, therefore no one will want to look at your ads and you’ll be wasting your valuable time.

So the first thing you’ll want to do when tackling Instagram is to come up with three-to-five ideas that would make the topic of security interesting. “Giving Back to Your Community” works really great with Instagram. Oh yeah, go sign up for an Instagram account if you haven’t done so already. 

As you upload your pictures, include a captivating headline or description with your picture, maybe something like, “The only local security company that cares about our homeless.” Next, you’ll want to think of how you’d like for people to find this picture. 

Next, do your homework on the popularity of a particular hashtag. Open up Instagram, and within your search bar type in, “Las Vegas.” At the time we wrote this article there were 22,299,479 posts that were using the hashtag Las Vegas. That means that all sorts of people are typing in “Las Vegas,” and if we owned a security company within Las Vegas, that would be one of the hashtags we’d use. By the way, you can also use multiple hashtags within your post; we suggest using no more than 10. 

Within the more active hashtags you’ll have to keep in mind that the frequency of people uploading images is more than the average bear, meaning that by the time you upload your image, chances are within as little as 5-10 minutes your post will be further down the search results because new posts are being uploaded. So try uploading different images throughout the day to see how people are reacting to them. And if they’re not reacting, try something different until you find that sweet spot that gets interaction.

The key to a successful Instagram campaign is, again, to keep the topics light. We get great amounts of “likes” with images of silly burglars, pictures of bad installs, images of contacts on a liquor cabinet with a kid who is scared because the alarm went off after he tried to sneak some of dad’s booze. And make sure you upload frequently; when you do, you’ll notice your follower base will start to increase, and that’s a good thing because it means potential customers want to hear from you.

In the beginning people won’t be throwing their money at your company for installs, but give it three months, and really give it a good go by uploading pictures and hashtagging at least two-to-three times a day. And make sure to use hashtags such as #YourCity #Burglar #Thief #HomeSecurity — even use some of the national companies’ names. ride that coattail.

Overall it costs nothing but your time and some creativity. It will expand your brand visibility and keep you top-of-mind when potentials are ready to get that security system installed.