Back in 2009, hashtags belonged to Twitter. Designed initially to group together news topics, they have now developed into a mini language and world of their own, and it’s now Instagram that owns hash-tagging! With no character limit, we can hashtag to our heart’s content!

And there’s not a day that goes by that doesn’t have its own hashtag, from #MondayMotivation, #TechTuesday, #Humpday (aka Wednesday), #ThrowbackThursday to #Friyay, which avid Instagram users will build their posts around to gain the maximum engagement with other users.

Using hashtags still has the same basic concept, in terms of grouping topics of interest together, only now they represent so much more; personal interests, consumer groups, research methods and for marketers and PR’s using campaign hashtags, a very precise way to measure social media engagement.

Millennials are by far the highest concentrated users on Instagram, and this is reflected in the most commonly used hashtags such as #FridayNight… No explanation needed! Certain markets such as food, fashion, travel and fitness are also establishing Instagram as their key social media homes, with hashtags such as #FitnessMotivation, #Travel and #Instafashion racking up tens of millions of tags. These markets are becoming less influenced by direct marketing, traditional PR and celebrity endorsements, but rather social media and peer to peer recommendations.

And Instagram itself, and hashtags such as #FitFam and #TransformationTuesday, have been cited as spurring the biggest shift the fitness world has seen in decades. “It has helped cultivate fitness communities — which is extremely important when people are eating and working out at home, in the absence of a visible community that one might find at a gym. This form of marketing that comes directly from the customer is arguably more authentic than a commercial. When women see other women share their own journeys, it undeniably can intrigue them to want to try that product, too.” (The Independent)

Across these markets, we at Escapade are finding ourselves increasingly shifting our focus to Instagram and using digital influencers as a tool to increase brand and campaign awareness. Particularly for health, fitness and wellbeing PR campaigns. And although Instagram still has a way to go to catch up with Facebook analytics, the level at which we are able to evaluate PR success is far more concrete than traditional AVE’s. Using tools such as Google Analytics, Hashtracker and Influencer DB, we are able to drill down exactly how people are engaging with Instagram content and accompanying hashtags. For clients looking for tangible data, this is much more valuable.

And let’s face it, Instagram is fun! And it’s real (most of the time)… Even for a PR agency, we are seeing more of our web traffic from social media coming from Instagram than ever. Twitter once dominated this, but it has significantly decreased over the past 12 months, a trend we have seen across multiple markets.

So what once started as concept inspired by Flickr (remember that one??) has now not only now been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, but has well and truly become a part of our everyday social behaviour. And as PR’s, we love it!

Our consumer lifestyle PR team specialise in connecting everyday brands with everyday people across four core sectors; Consumer Lifestyle PR, Food & Drink PR, Consumer Technology PR and Sport, Health & Wellbeing PR. More information on these areas of knowledge can be found at www.escapadepr.com/about-us.