Hashtags. They seem to have become part of every day language, used by many as part of the conversation. Understood by some, and a mystery for others, the hashtag is an integral part social media marketing. We take a look at how using hashtags for Instagram can help to promote your content, increase it’s visibility and make your posts more discoverable.
If you are still readsing, you probably have lots of questions including:
- How many hashtags should you use?
- Should you use the same amount in every post?
- Do they look SPAMMY?
- Should you leave them out of some posts?
- Do you have to use them?
- Which hashtags are the best for your business?
- What posts should have which tag?
Understanding their purpose and how they are used is a good place to start.
Hashtags Make Your Content Discoverable
Quite simply, a hashtag is something that makes your content discoverable. By pre-fixing, a word or combination of letters, symbols and numbers with the hash ‘#’ sign, your content becomes discoverable for that term eg #januarysales #dogsofinstagram #interiordesigngoals #bristolkitchendesign…
The more combinations of relevant hashtags that you use, the more discoverable your content becomes.
The Simple Guide to Using Hashtags on Instagram
By following a few simple principles and carrying out a little bit of research first, you can start to compile your own hashtag lists and make your Instagram posts work harder for you. You can build these lists into a note on your phone (or computer if using a publishing tool like Hootsuite) and simply copy and paste, amending as necessary with each Instagram post.
Creating lists means that you can copy and paste when posting rather than starting from scratch and trying to remember them all each time. You will be surprised at just how much time this will save you, especially when posting in a hurry.
How Many Hashtags Per Post?
There is much research about how many hashtags you should use. You can use up to 30 on a regular post and 10 on an Instagram story. That’s not to say you need to use them all, however. Research from various reputable industry specialists reveals that between 9 and 11 is the optimum amount when it comes to the best engagement.
I have always been a believer in quality over quantity however, there are agencies that we work with that say if you don’t use them all, you are missing an opportunity for your content to be found for a specific term. It may not always be possible to find 30 tags per post without looking a little desperate. On the other hand, you may find that you can easily find 30 relevant hashtags for Instagram posts and more.
Where to Place the Hashtags
If you are sharing your Instagram post to Facebook by automation, you won’t want all of the hashtags to show in the post when shared. In this instance, you can post your picture with a caption and add the hashtags to the comments beneath. Your posts will still be found but you won’t have lots of hashtags appearing. You can also leave a space between your caption and your tags so that they aren’t visible when people see the post. Alternatively, you may be happy to have all your hashtags alongside the caption. Just be wary that when using too many, it can begin to look at bit ‘spammy’ and distracting for your audience.
Which Hashtags to Use
To find the hashtags you are looking for, start by entering a word into the search tab and then clicking on the #symbol. In this example, we have typed in ‘kitchendesign’ and the search has returned the most used tags. This gives you an idea of what people are posting about and inspiration for your own hashtag lists. You will find that some of them have millions of posts with that hashtag – this means that if someone follows that specific hashtag, or searches for it, they are going to be faced with many search results. Better to try and use a mixture of high volume and more specific hashtags on your posts. For example, localisng your serch to your home city or town will make your content more targeted.
Be More Specific
It’s OK to include a couple of mainstream tags but try and be more specifc. #kitchendesign is a huge and broad topic. #bespokekitchendesignbristol is a much more specific example.
Unless you are a national brand, you will want to appeal to a geographic location. You may be based in London and want to attract people from across the city. In this instance, you might go for the following: #kitchenslondon #kitchenschelsea #kitchenskensington etc.
Your Own Brand Searches
Perhaps you have a company slogan or a particular logo that you want to use as your hashtag – you might want to try and use hashtags to create a company slogan. Consider the big brands like Nike #justdoit and McDonalds #imlovinit. While these won’t produce direct results in the short term, in the longer term they help to achieve brand recognition.
It is not unusual to find emojis in hashtags either on their own or combine them with a relevant search term. You can also use numbers, symbols, letters and combinations to produce a variety of similar tweets.
Following Your Most Common Hashtags
Just like you can follow other people on Instagram, you can also follow hashtags. This will show a selection of hashtags each day in your Instagram feed and when you click ‘following’ on your own profile, you can see the hashtags that you follow above all of the accounts and check in from time to time to see what everyone else is doing or get inspiration from others. You can also use this to keep an eye on the competitors without following them.
Measuring Hashtag Activity
If you click on the insights of your posts, you can not only see how many people have viewed your post, you can also see how effective your hashtags are. The posts that get higher engagement and show the highest number of hashtag searches are those that you should try and emulate. By taking the time to recognise what performs well and what doesn’t, you can soon start to manage your Instagram posts more effectively.
For more information on using Instagram for business and how you can maximise on your efforts, we are more than happy to answer your questions.