I’ve been guilty of it myself. I’ve uploaded a photo to Instagram and then guessed a few hashtags to include before posting. Ouch.
If I’m hoping to attract new followers or expand the reach for the brands I manage or even create awareness for my clients, this is not an effective approach at all.
According to Hubspot, “Hashtags are essentially Instagram’s sorting process. With around 95 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it’s difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in seeing it.”
This means that when you create a post, only use hashtags that make sense. If you tag a post, your content must be something people will want to comment on, like, and share. Do your homework and work out a proper approach that works for you.
It’s not about getting seen by a lot of people, it’s about getting seen by the right people. That’s how hashtags lead to higher engagement and more followers.
- Avoid using the same list of hashtags on every post. Instagram’s community guidelines clearly state that “posting repetitive comments or content” is not okay.
- Avoid overused & popular hashtags that don’t necessarily relate to the photo. It tends to make posts look spammy. The key is to use hashtags sparingly and only when they add value. Sorry, but that means no more #happy #weekend #jumpingforjoy #ilovelife hashtags.
- Make sure your hashtag is not banned. Instagram bans — temporarily and permanently — certain hashtags, preventing them from appearing in search results. If you were one of those that used #ValentinesDay in February, you may have experienced a drop in reach?
- Don’t add to the noise. Think quality vs quantity. Using the max of 30 hashtags does not automatically mean increased reach and engagement.
- #Don’t #hashtag #every #word of #your caption. There’s a difference between your copy & the hashtags used to describe your pic.
- Research topics that your audience is looking for. You will only increase engagement if you give the audience what they’re looking for.
- Drill down to longtail hashtags. E.g.: Instead of #coffeeshop (10.5m posts), try #coffeeshopvibes (815k posts) or even #coffeeshoplove (19.9k posts).
- Use a balanced combination of relevant general, niche and location-based hashtags.
- Include one branded hashtag in every Instagram post. These tags are unique to your brand and are a great way to drive awareness of your business and give your followers a way to interact with you and each other. Branded hashtags can be something as simple as your company name, tagline or brand identity or could even be tied to specific products, services or marketing campaigns.
- Make sure each hashtag is a good fit for your post. It’s not about tricking people to see your content or a spray and pray approach.
I have developed Hashtag strategies for all the clients that I manage using the simple steps below (and some testing using available insights):
It’s important for your brand (both personal and business) to be found, to remain visible and to be having value-adding conversations with the right target audience. But also that Instagram remains such an enjoyable platform to be on.