Best Practices for Using Hashtags on Instagram!

by | Dec 3, 2018 | All Blogs, Tip Tuesday

Best Practices for Using Hashtags on Instagram!

According to the ever reliable Wikipedia :

Even though my college professors would kill me for using Wikipedia as a legitimate source, this is a great summary of what hashtags are. The Reader’s Digest version: Hashtags help people find stuff on the internet. Just like the Dewey Decimal System, hashtags are one way that the internet helps you categorize content and find what you’re looking for.
Though their use is easy to mock, hashtags are not to be underestimated. These are powerful tools that, if used correctly, will help you connect and engage with your target audience.
In an effort to shed some light on how you can use these for your organization, the next four weeks of Tip Tuesday will be dedicated to hashtags and their uses across different social media platforms. This week, we’ll start by heading over to Instagram:

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 tags per post. That’s 30 opportunities to connect with new users and draw people to your content. That’s a lot of power, and, as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. You have to make sure you’re doing it right!
There are two ways of using hashtags on Instagram- the right way and the wrong way. There are two ways of using hashtags on Instagram the right way- the correct way and the funny way.
First, I’ll show you…

The correct way is to use hashtags that are highly relevant and specific to your posts. Let’s say you’re a fabulous local marketing agency looking to use a relevant hashtag on a recent post, and you’d like to attract the eyeballs of a highly engaged audience. Your first instinct is to just slap #marketing at the end of your post and call it a day. Not so fast! If you look up #Marketing on Instagram, 23.7 MILLION posts come up:

Your humble, yet high-quality post is sure to get lost in all that clutter, so using that hashtag is just a waste of space.
However, let’s say you want to move in on a more targeted, but still general tag. Try #Graphic_Designer instead. It has 39k posts, which makes it far more likely that you’ll be seen in that feed:

If you’re a local agency, like us, you should also use local tags. #BakersfieldMarketing only has 1,314 posts as of this writing, and is far more likely to deliver quality interest than a broader tag:

Another correct way to use hashtags is to use post-specific tags as we did with the Bakersfield Marathon. These tags will draw users that are interested in your specific event:

Using these event-specific tags brought in 62 views to this post. So in this case, these hashtags were a success!

Hashtags can quickly become #trashtags if you abuse them. Posting hashtags that are irrelevant, misspelled, or improperly punctuated is not an effective use of this amazing tool. Make sure your hashtags are in proper, working order before finishing your post.
People can also report your post as irrelevant. This tells the algorithm that you’re misusing hashtags and that will affect your performance in users’ feeds:

So, be thoughtful and intentional with your use of hashtags.

I like to inject comedy wherever I can, and hashtags are no exception. You can use hashtags as a clever addition to your post, or as a punchline of a joke. The possibilities are endless on this one. Using hashtags this way is not useful for growing your following, but it adds entertainment value and fun to your posts. I say use this tactic but use it sparingly.

There are so many different ways to find relevant hashtags, but I’ve found that the best way is to pay attention to what others in your field are doing and join the conversation that way. Figure out what your target market is talking about and then jump in using your own unique combination of hashtags!

A quick way to find some hashtags to use is by following hashtags that you like and then going down the digital rabbit hole to find more through other posts. I do this frequently for photography tags. Here’s an example of how this might work:

I start by following #PalePalmCollection (which I highly recommend):

Scroll down until I find a tasty photo that I’d like to see more of:

And then explore their tags:

Then I’ll continue from there. As you can guess, this gets pretty time consuming, but it’s worth it to find some quality, off-the-beaten-path hashtags (and lots of inspiration!).
But that’s just one way of finding new tags to follow. There are tons of other methods of finding useful tags to add to your posts.

I’m a huge proponent of using Instagram Stories as a part of your marketing strategy. They are an easy, fun way to engage with your audience, and they open up yet another avenue to put your new hashtagging skills to work! So slap some hashtags on that story #selfie the next time you post!


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