You can use social media of some form without noticing people add hashtags to their posts. For clarity sake, I’m talking about words prefixed with a hashtag symbol (#).
Hashtags have become a key feature of platforms handling large amounts of data. They enable the platform to sort content into the right categories and improve the user experience.
It’s not as simple as adding as many hashtags as you can think of, however. Smart and strategic use of hashtags is an incredibly deep and intricate process.
But done right, using the right hashtags is an incredibly powerful tactic and can help you surf atop the huge wave of traffic going through Instagram every day.
So, if you want to take your hashtag game to the next level on Instagram and start generating more likes, shares, and follows when you post new content – here’s everything you need to know going into 2019.
How Important Are Hashtags on Instagram?
In two words – very important.
It’s the only way Instagram is able to ‘sort’ content into the right feeds, so the right people can see the types of content they are subscribed to or looking for.
Like any search engine or large content aggregating platform, it’s Instagram’s job to give their users what they want. Otherwise, they’ll go elsewhere.
So, if you add a hashtag like #cats for example, your post will be added to the feed with all the other posts containing that hashtag.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use?
I’ve seen various answers to this question and have come to the conclusion that there is no set number that is the right amount of hashtags. If there were, it would make using hashtags a lot easier, that’s for sure.
Some people recommend using the full 30 hashtags allowed by Instagram to maximize your exposure. While, according to research, up to 7 hashtags seem to be the sweet spot.
I think there is a fine line between looking spammy and looking like you’re trying to target a specific audience or niche. Personally, I start adding relevant hashtags to a post and stop when I’m starting to stretch to find more tags that are relevant.
Plus, there isn’t going to be 30 super-relevant hashtags for any post in my opinion. So, you’re likely wasting time and looking spammy by filling your comment section with 30 hashtags.
How to Use Hashtags That Get Noticed
I wish it was as simple as adding a bunch of hashtags and seeing your content get liked, shared, and commented on instantly. Maybe it was once, but it didn’t last long.
More than 80 million photos are shared on Instagram every day. 80 million! So, how are you supposed to get noticed amongst that tidal wave of new content?
Well, this is what hashtags were designed for. So, you can help Instagram sort your content into the right place and put it in front of your intended audience.
The smaller the audience the more likely it will be that your content gets noticed. But, use too small of a pool and there will not be enough eye in there to take notice.
It’s about using the right hashtags and finding a balance. This is something you’ll have to test over time, and with up to 30 hashtags at your disposal, it’s not hard to add a few different hashtags per post and track what’s working.
When you start typing a hashtag on Instagram it will bring up all the related tags and their audience size. Add a couple of tags from the larger audiences and mix in a couple of smaller tags, then adjust from there.
How to Find Relevant Hashtags for Your Audience
There are literally hundreds of thousands of hashtags to choose from, and the limitless possibilities when making up your own hashtags, but it doesn’t need to be hard to find relevant hashtags.
Here are a few hacks to help you find loads of hashtags without spending hours scrolling through lists or wasting time trying tags you’re not sure about:
Use the autofill function – As soon as you type # and the first letter, Instagram will give you a list of the most popular hashtags as an autofill.
From here you can scroll down and click on relevant tags that have smaller audiences than the first few options. It’s a great feature to play around with, keep typing more letters and seeing what ideas come up.
Think ‘niche’ – The basic principle behind narrowing down any audience is to niche down. This means focusing on the exact product or service in hand to hit just that audience.
For example, if you’re posting about apples or potatoes, don’t add #food, #apple, or #potato to your post. Add the type of apple or potato, so #GrannySmith or #YukonGold for example. Then add further tags for your brand, something to do with the occasion, location, and so on.
Check your competitors – This is probably the best thing you can do when you’re first starting out. Check out some of your competitors and see what hashtags they are adding to their posts.
Obviously, don’t copy all their tags, and certainly, don’t copy any related to their brand and business. But there’s no harm in taking advantage of their hard work.
Why You Should Use a Branded Hashtag
Having your own branded hashtag will make it easier for customers and followers to get in touch with you and share relevant content with their followers.
Most brands use their company name, tagline, or a phrase/word they are best known for. Nike for example use #justdoit on all their posts, while Starbucks tend to tag their individual drinks, such as #JuniperLatte, and #PeppermintMocha.
Think what works for you and plan out some hashtags to use across all of your content. This in itself will mean all your posts are sent to a feed that followers can subscribe to. It’s almost like building a personal list to mail when you have something you want to share.
If you’re not using hashtags properly with your Instagram account, you’re missing out big time. Instagram is way too huge now to get noticed without properly tagging your content so it’s delivered to the right audience.
While it’s not an exact science, there are some basic strategies that will help give you a competitive edge over your competitors as I’ve highlighted in this post.
It doesn’t take long to experiment with hashtags and start establishing your own branded hashtag. So no excuses, start adding and experimenting with hashtags on your content today.