How to use hashtags so your Instagram effort is time well spent
Updated: May 1
If you're trying to grow your business on social media then using hashtags correctly is an absolute must. It's not exactly rocket science but to do it well it does take some timely research and preparation.
The whole point of growing an audience of quality followers on social media is so we can move them from our socials to our website, our own piece of web real estate, where they will hopefully become clients or associates. Hashtags is one of the best tools we have to help us do just that!
Here are my best tips for using hashtags to grow your audience on the gram!
Let's start with understanding how hashtags work...
A hashtag is the # symbol followed by a series of letters with no spaces in between the hash or the letters. The letters usually make up words or abbreviations of a series of words, for example #tbt is commonly recognised as 'throw back Thursday'. It's not advisable to string too many words together in a hashtag unless it's a common phrase that is likely to be searched.
Think of hashtags as keywords you would enter into a search engine to find something online. People can search hashtags to search for things of interest using the search function on IG. If you have used that particular hashtag in your post then there's a chance that they will find your post. Similarly you can search and follow hashtags related to your niche, industry or interest to find profiles that you can engage with and follow.
For people to be able to find you on Instagram using hashtags, you need to ensure that your account is public, that is that it's not a personal account but rather a public account, usually a creator or business Instagram account. You can adjust these in your settings.
Upping your hashtag game with preparation
Every minute spent researching and preparing to use hashtag correctly will come back to pay you in bunches! Do your due diligence in getting cosy and doing some serious hashtag analysis rather than posting then willy nilly (haphazardly for my audience outside of Australia!), you won't regret it. Follow these simple steps...
Use the search feature to look up hashtags in your niche, industry, area of interest, local area or tags that your ideal clients would use.
Go down the rabbit hole by looking at the 'top' and 'recent' posts that have used these hashtags and see if your ideal followers/clients, potential industry associates or those with similar interests are interacting with posts using the hashtags. If so, note them down.
List down hashtags that show up in your search results that have been used by your ideal followers between 1K - 500K times. Any less or any more than this and that hashtag is not likely to get you found due to over or under use. If the hashtag that you searched has many more than 500K posts, go to the next in line and then the next and so on down the line. You may choose to note down several from that list of tags if there are multiple tags that are suitable.
Create several banks of up to 30 hashtags focused on your key content pillars, that is the 3-5 things that you talk about most often on IG. Have these on hand when you are posting and rotate through them, according to the relevance of the post. I recommend saving them in the notes on your phone, or even better try using my scheduler of choice Planoly where you can save your hashtags in sets and even schedule them to post as the first comment. I highly recommend Planoly if you are wanting to plan out and schedule your posts in advance!
Follow these hashtags and spend time daily or a few times a week authentically engaging on relevant posts using these hashtags. NB. Engaging on other posts is an important part of any growth strategy.
Some frequently asked questions about hashtags
How many can I use?
You can use up to 30 hashtags in any one post. There is conflicting advice around how many is advisable to ensure that one isn't flagged as being spam and therefore becoming shadow banned. Some people recommend using up to 7 is playing it safe. I recommend using up to 30 but ensure that there is a variety of tags within the batch so that they don't appear spammy and rotate and vary the batches of words often.
Can I go back and add hashtags to my posts after I've posted them?
Yes! In fact if you're reading this to learn about hashtags for the first time or you haven't previously used hashtags then it's a great idea to go back to previous posts and do just that! Just take your time doing it... It's never advisable to do anything hard and fast on Insta as it will likely have you flagged as spam. Slow and steady always! Post hashtags in the comments, just a few of posts at a time every few days until you've caught up.
When posting, should I add hashtags to the post or the comments?
There is no right or wrong here, both are equally as effective as far as reach however here is my take on it... I prefer to post the tags in the comments, scheduled as the first comment via Planoly. This way the hashtags aren't using up valuable character real estate given that IG has a character limit. The other reason is I crosspost from IG to my Facebook Page and since hashtags are rarely used on FB it's flying the lazy poster flag. If you aren't using Planoly as a scheduler then you can manually add them to the comments when you post.
Can I start my own hashtag?
Absolutely! Starting your own brand hashtag/s could potentially start a revolution! First check it's not one that's already being used and if not, go for it. Start by adding it to each post along with your other batches of tags. If it's a thing and it catches on you will find other people using your hashtag so be sure to follow it and engage when others use it!
Using hashtags is one of the best ways to grow organically on Instagram. It's well worth giving it a go! Follow these tips and watch your following grow!
Sharon Joy 🔮🧑🏼💻✨
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