It seems like everyone either loves hashtags or totally hates them. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: they are your golden ticket to killing the Instagram game. Don’t believe me? Maybe you’re not using them with a strategy in mind. Love ’em or hate ’em, hashtags were put on this earth for a reason. The savvy bloggers and business owners know that they are an incredibly useful tool to organically grow their accounts. In this post you’ll learn why hashtags are so important for your blog or brand, how I use them, and how you can use them to YOUR advantage to take your Instagram to the next level.
How I Use Hashtags
Why You Should Use Hashtags
How to Find Hashtags
Tip: Save category-specific ones in a text editor on your phone to save you time and stress. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted on searching for hashtags. Now that I have ready-made lists based on categories such as fashion and lifestyle, I can copy and paste them and tweak a few tags depending on the image and how I’m feeling. Also make sure to regularly update your lists as new hashtags are always emerging, or to retire ones that aren’t so relevant anymore.
Use ‘Em All
People always wonder, how many hashtags should I use? Honestly, the only rule is that Instagram grants you to use a maximum of 30 tags. Some people swear by using all 30 (waves hand), some people are too prideful to use any or only a few (well, good for you!), or some people are just plain oblivious to their effectiveness. There is no shame in using all the hashtags that Instagram allows and this goes for accounts of ALL sizes–big or small. It’s the best way to increase the chances of your photo getting seen and you’re honestly only hurting your account but NOT using all of them.
Use Niche-Specific Hashtags
This is important! The key to getting noticed is targeting the right people aka your target audience. These are the users who are more likely to engage with your account and give you a follow. If you aren’t sure who your audience is or you’re just starting out, focus on your niche or brand. You also want to make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to the photo and are ACTIVE. If someone is looking under the “outfitinspo” tag and see a photo of a building, they’re probably going to scroll right past it.
When you tag your posts get in the head of your audience and ask yourself, what would people be searching for in order to find my photo? For example, I post fashion related content on my Instagram, so I always make sure I use hashtags that I know will reach people that are looking for fashion related content, such as #bloggerstyle, #americanstyle, and #outfitideas
Using a variety of hashtags in different categories is important if you don’t have a super specific niche. Since I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger, but my Instagram’s mainly fashion with a little lifestyle in the mix, I make sure to use a combination of blogging, fashion, and lifestyle hashtags to reach different users that would be interested in my account.
Find a Good Balance
Get Featured on Top Posts
One big misconception is that only the biggest accounts can make it on the Top Posts, but this isn’t true! What you need to pay attention to is the Instagram algorithm. No one really knows how the algorithm works, but Instagram does favor posts with high engagement, meaning that the more likes and comments your post gets, the more likely it is to be featured in the Top Posts.
But Instagram also takes into consideration how quickly your post receives its engagement. Photos that make it on the Top Posts are usually published within the last 24 hours, so you also need to strategize when you post. Pay attention to your Instagram Analytics for when you’re followers are most active and post during your peak times. If you’re just starting your account, try different times and analyze how quickly you get likes and comments.
For accounts with less than 10,000 followers, you want to focus your attention on hashtags with around 100,000 or less posts where you are more likely to be selected by Instagram. But don’t feel discouraged or limited! I always include 3-5 “big” hashtags that are still relevant to my photo such as #fashionbloggers, #thatsdarling, or #minimalism. It’s kind of like submitting your artwork to a panel of judges, except the panel is an algorithm that can’t be easily swayed.
In the end, it all comes down to a large amount of engagement in short amount of time. The best strategy to achieve this? Having great photos, using the right hashtags that are relevant to your post, and publishing at your optimal times.
Use Community and Branded Hashtags
Community hashtags connect like-minded users around a specific subject such as the popular #thatsdarling or #morningslikethese tags. They’re a great way to connect with other users in your niche, get the chance to be featured on different accounts, and expand your reach.
Branded hashtags are unique to your blog or business. They are a great way to connect with your followers and create your own little community. As a blogger it’s a good way to curate your posts so they all show up under one tag and users can browse them. My own tags are #insearchofsheila which just features my outfit photos and #coffeeandsheila which includes all of my selfies and flat lays with coffee.
For a brand or business, having your own tag is a great way for your followers and customers to share their own experiences and promote your products and account to others.
Avoid looking like an arse by #hashtagging #every #word in your caption. Was this ever cool? I used to do it when I started out my Instagram, but in retrospect I must have sounded so lame, haha!
Don’t Be a Copycat
Although I totally suggest seeing what hashtags other accounts are using, I don’t suggest directly copying them into your post. Not only is that just uncool, but how can you be confident in their expertise? Find what works for you.
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