If you’re not using hashtags on Instagram, you’re doing it wrong. There are several reasons you should use hashtags on your Instagram posts, from more engagement to finding the right audience for your business or brand. In fact, businesses should strive to develop and maintain an online presence. This is crucial for success.
Instagram allows you to create or use up to 30 hashtags per post and up to 10 hashtags on Instagram stories but before you open up your Instagram and type out a bunch of random hashtags, be warned that you could be doing more harm than good. Not using hashtags correctly is almost as bad as not using them at all.
If you’re worried none of this makes sense, sit back and take it easy because by the time you finish this article you’ll have everything you need to know about how to correctly use Instagram hashtags.
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Why Instagram hashtags are important
To understand why hashtags are important, let’s look at an example. Jack and Jill are two friends who both decide to open similar businesses. Jack is old-fashioned, he barely uses his social media. When he doest post to Instagram through his business account, he uses no hashtags.
Jill, on the other hand, understands that hashtags are an effective strategy to streamline and boost Instagram content marketing strategy and has been using Instagram hashtags to grow her presence online. She carefully picks the relevant hashtags, avoids over popular ones, uses hashtag analytics tools and Instagram insights to grow her audience and increase her reach.
Over time, Jill’s business grows, and her reach widens. She gains more engagement, in fact the more time she invests into reaching her target audience the more potential customers she’s able to convert into loyal patrons and as a result her business is booming like never before.
Jack finds it harder and harder to get customers. Over time, the competition has captured most of the market share with their interesting posts, Instagram analytics and regular use of an analytics tool. He eventually throws in the towel and hires a social media manager who’s familiar with the best practices in the business.
Jack immediately sees an uptick in the number of customers and regrets not having a digital presence for his business sooner.
This image shows the Avg. Engagement rate per post for accounts like Jack and Jill’s which are usually starting out and have less than 5k followers.
Why is it useful to analyze your hashtag performance on Instagram?
When you use a hashtag on Instagram, anyone who’s searching for the same hashtag can now find your post. So if you make travel content, using #travel helps you find people who’re passionate about travel since they probably follow the ‘#travel’ hashtag.
Properly analysing your hashtag performance can ensure that you reach your target audience. This involves selecting the right hashtags for your brand, and making sure you aren’t getting lost in the flood of posts using the same tags.
In addition to this, you want to avoid mistakes like using banned hashtags or over popular hashtags so your post won’t get lost in a heap of similar pictures. The proper use and analysis of Instagram hashtags will allow you to build relevant followers who are actually interested in your content and can become potential customers.
If done correctly, you should see a real and tangible difference in your business both online and in real life.
The types of Instagram hashtags
To help you understand what not to do, here are some common types of hashtags. Popular hashtags will help increase your views while specific hashtags help you target the right audience. Understanding these will help you understand how to better use hashtags and which specific hashtag is best suited for you.
Think of community hashtags as a general area of interest you might have in common with people. For example, whether you want to see posts about ice cream or posts about cake, a hashtag that works for the entire sweet tooth community is #desserts.
Community hashtags are very important with staying relevant in your niche and making sure the followers you get are already interested in your content.
There’s nothing worse than marketing an amazing brand to the wrong audience.
If you already have a following online, you should consider using branded hashtags. These are specific phrases that are associated with you as a brand and usually have your brand name in the hashtag.
A good example of a brand hashtag would be #WantAnR8 by Audi which is one of the more well-known brand hashtags online or #NationalFriedChickenDay by KFC. Notice how brand hashtags use the brand name in a phrase to create a relationship or a campaign that people feel like participating in.
These are ideal for increasing your engagement rate specifically when you have a new product coming out and you want to generate a lot of buzz surrounding it.
They’re almost like brand hashtags, and this makes sense because they’re used by brands regarding a specific product being launched or sold.
Cultural movement hashtags
Using some Instagram hashtags like #pride or #BLM is a great way to show that your brand or business stands for a social cause and can really help you gain followers who share similar ideas as your brand.
This is a great way to develop loyal customers and also helps you stay relevant while supporting a social cause.
Strategies to find the best hashtags for you
Now just because a hashtag like #shareacoke works for Coca Cola does not mean it will work for you. You need to be smart about which hashtags you choose to use and why. While formulating a strategy it’s often useful to use an analytics tool such as Instagram analytics or any other analytics tool out there, and there’s plenty.
If you’re a brand that needs to make sure your posts have captions that look professional and you don’t want Instagram hashtags in your captions, simply put all the captions related to your brand in the first comment instead.
Not only does this leave your content looking neat, but it doesn’t make any difference to your post as an Instagram hashtag in the first comment is equally effective.
Know your audience
To formulate a good strategy, it is imperative that you know your audience. You have to be putting out relevant content and using the relevant hashtags to grow. Social media platforms have enough user generated content with some random 30 hashtags on every post.
If you’re serious about performance and Instagram marketing, try getting to know your followers using quiz software.
Know your competitors
The world of business can be a cutthroat, so it’s crucial that you use every edge you can find over your competitor. This means getting to know your competitors who are often using similar strategies online to you.
Using analytics tools like Instagram insights can help you study the engagement generated from your Instagram hashtags and improve how your posts fare.
Look into industry leaders
Another way to stay ahead of the competition is to make sure you’re up to date with the leaders in your industry. Keeping track of the industry’s trends in line with Instagram trends that are on the rise can help keep you ahead of the competition.
Using a branded hashtag from an industry leader may also help your post feed off some momentum generated by your competitors trending hashtags.
Find related hashtags
Unlike Twitter users, Instagram users use hashtags a lot more liberally. This increases the number of hashtags under which your post will be found as well as the number of relevant used hashtags.
Finding relevant hashtags on social media can also be a big plus as using these Instagram hashtags which are already followed by many people can help increase your followers especially with niche hashtags.
How To Track Your Instagram Hashtags
Popular Instagram posts usually do well because of specific hashtags. You want to keep using these specific hashtags as well as add hashtags that will increase engagement. You also want to drop hashtags that aren’t helping performance.
In addition to this, you want to know how many hashtags to use. Hashtags work best at a certain number to increase audience engagement, below this and you would want to add hashtags to grow your audience.
It’s best to use a spreadsheet to track Instagram hashtags. Alternatively, you can use a software tool.
Leverage Instagram hashtag analytics
Instagram hashtag analytics is a great way to find out what your engagement percentage is on the hashtags you use.
Hashtag analytics allows you to compare the social media reach with the engagement numbers to tell you your engagement percentage.
Get into the ‘top’ results for a hashtag
A great way to build followers is to get into the “Top Posts”. THis can even lead to your content going viral. Often video content or reels go viral fast so it’s worth investing in quality video production.
There’s two things to keep in mind to get your Instagram posts into the top post section. How much engagement you have on the post and how quickly you got your engagement. Getting lots of likes and comments in under 24 hours using Instagram hashtags is a great way to tell the Instagram app that the Instagram post is excellent quality.
Include branded hashtags in your profile
A great way to convert profile visits into website visits is by using Instagram hashtags in your Instagram bio.
This update that Instagram rolled out a while back allows you to include hashtags you use in posts or Instagram stories, but not in your bio by simply putting the hashtag symbol before a word.
Run hashtag-based promotions
Simply knowing what to post on Instagram is not enough but using the platform’s tools and intricacies to your advantage is more important.
Have you ever wondered why businesses host free giveaways on social media? A competition is a great way to grow your reach by creating user generated content and asking people to take part by using a branded hashtag on their post.
The competition motivates people to use the branded hashtag and the small giveaway is not much of a loss compared to the enormous gain in followers which convert to customers.
Connect your online and offline campaigns
While it’s easy to get lost with all the Instagram hashtags and Instagram analytics, remember that the whole point of marketing and Instagram hashtag analytics is to convert your followers into customers.
From that perspective it’s imperative that you plan your content and consider partnering with an agency that can understand Instagram hashtag analytics to take care of content strategy planning or consider using a project management software to keep track of campaigns.
Most Common Mistakes with an Instagram Hashtag
If you’ve made it this far, you already know what to do while using an Instagram hashtag or even several hashtags in your Instagram posts. But there are still a few mistakes to avoid making which could undo all the good you’ve worked so hard to create.
Forgetting to use a local hashtag
If you’re not making use of hashtags on Instagram specific to your location, you could be missing out on a huge audience. It’s easy to use larger community hashtags that ignore a city or locality where you live but remember that your best source of business is often the people closest to you.
Reusing the same hashtags over and over
If you keep reusing the same hashtags post after post, Instagram may identify you as spam and your reach may be severely limited.
Even if you want to use a hashtag multiple times, it’s best to change the order of how you type them out and make it look like it’s not just the same old hashtag Instagram has already seen. Add in new hashtags in between and feel free to create brand new hashtags as you go along.
Using too many or too few hashtags
Using too few hashtags means you’re missing out on the audience you could be reaching while using too many hashtags often makes your posts look spammy.
While 1 to 3 hashtags per post is most common, it’s probably best to use around 11 hashtags on a post as this appears to be the optimal number as per this hashtag report.
Hashtag La Vista
By no, you should be feeling more confident on how to use hashtags. We’ve gone through most of the important points you need to know and you even have a few tips on what not to do.
Remember that the biggest mistake you can make is not investing in your social media and not staying up to date on the best practices. You want to make sure you’re always using the most important hashtags in your niche as time goes by and this means doing a little research.
While this may have once been daunting you now have a firm foundation on almost everything hashtag related and should have no problem keeping abreast of the latest hashtags being thrown around online.
Don’t forget to track hashtags and even create new hashtags as and when the situation calls for it. You’re now ready to make some serious ripples in the digital space and truly go viral with your posts!