On a platform with over 1 billion active accounts per month, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. This is why hashtags are an important tool for increasing your discoverability on Instagram. So what exactly is a hashtag. A hashtag is a word preceded by the hash sign (#). Hashtags work by organising and categorising video and photo content. With each post you create, you can include up to 30 hashtags in your caption, which allow your content to be discovered by other users on the platform when they search for those same hashtags. A hashtag to Instagram is like SEO to your website. Using hashtags will dramatically increase the reach, engagement and discoverability of your posts, allowing you to connect directly with your ideal audience. However, it’s important to consider that there are right and wrong ways to use hashtags. When used properly, they can be a huge asset to your business but if used incorrectly they can be a real turn off for your audience. So, if you’re interested in upping your hashtag game, here’s my ultimate guide to using Instagram hashtags for 2019.
Only use hashtags relevant to your content
Targeting your ideal customer should always be a top priority for business and brand owners. This is why it’s a must that you only use hashtags relevant to your industry and the content you’re posting. By niching down and using relevant hashtags, you can ensure you’re targeting people that are genuinely interested in your business. After all, these are the people that will ultimately buy from you. Instagram has made it even easier to find these relevant hashtags. All you need to do is click on the search bar and type in a keyword relevant to your industry. For example, I might type in “social media manager”. Then, Instagram will show a drop down list of other hashtags related to that initial keyword (see picture below). Do some research on the top keywords in your industry. Then, following the above instructions, make a list of related hashtags you can use for your post.
11 is the magic number
Everyone’s heard the saying less is more. This especially rings true when it comes to using hashtags on Instagram. Using too many hashtags can look spammy and can be a real turn off for your audience. While Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, research suggests that the optimal number is 11. Keep in mind, however, that every business and industry are different. What works well for some may not work well for others. The key take away here is to do your own testing and see what works best for you.
Don’t use hashtags with huge followings
One of the biggest hashtag mistakes I see people make is using hashtags with huge followings. It might seem like a great idea to use these larger hashtags so you can reach a bigger audience, however often the opposite is true. Because large hashtags are so frequently used, some every minute depending on their size, it becomes extremely unlikely that your post will be seen among the massive amount of clutter. Unless you have a large following yourself, stay away from hugely popular tags and instead focus on smaller, more niche tags relevant to your industry. You will be more likely to be featured in the top 9 posts for these tags, increasing your discoverability and reaching more of your ideal audience. Do some testing using different sized tags. Then, take note of which size hashtag is optimal for you and use more hashtags of that size. As you grow your following, you can use hashtags with a larger following.
Include hashtags in your Instagram stories
Another big missed opportunity that I see people make is not using hashtags in their Instagram stories. In the same way that using hashtags for your posts will increase your reach and discoverability, the same is true for your Instagram stories. When you use hashtags on your stories, people can discover you when they use the search and explore feature on the platform. Simply type your hashtags out using the text tool or add a single hashtag using the hashtag sticker.
Use branded hashtags
A branded hashtag is simply a hashtag that’s unique to your business or brand. This could be your business name, tagline, a current campaign or product. Encouraging your audience to use your branded hashtags in their owns posts is key to getting discovered by new audiences. It’s also a great way for you to share user generated content, when your followers share a photo raving about your product or service. This type of social proof can be extremely valuable for building trust amongst your audience. When people love your product or service and want to share it with their own audience, a branded hashtag will be a real asset to grow your following!
I’d love to hear from you! Are you using any of the above hashtag strategies? If so, how have they worked for you? Are there any other strategies you’ve used that have worked well? Let me know in the comments below or send me a DM on social.