If you’re using Instagram for marketing, then you need your audience to see them. The best way to get more eyes on your posts is to use the right Instagram hashtags when you post to your feed. The key is to find the right hashtags, ones that will drive visitors to your posts, get that engagement, and result in sales. Here’s how to find those hashtags, and how to use them effectively.
What are Instagram Hashtags?
Firstly, let’s consider exactly what Instagram hashtags are. A hashtag is a word, or group of words, that are preceded by the pound sign. They should look like this: #hashtag. This is used on Instagram to turn that word or phrase into a link. When a user clicks on that phrase, they’ll find all the posts that have used the same hashtag. This also applies to other social media services, such as Facebook and Twitter.
How To Implement Instagram Hashtags On Your Posts
It’s very easy to use a hashtag on any post you make on Instagram. To do so, simply type the pound sign, followed by the word or phrase you want to use, into the caption beneath your post. That turns it into hashtag which is then clickable. It’s as easy as that.
You’re not just restricted to regular posts, either. They can be used in your Instagram Stories, too. When creating a story, bring up the Sticker menu. There will be one for hashtags, so click that, then type in your hashtag. That applies it to the story, so you can get it in front of a wider audience.
You also have the option to use Instagram hashtags in your bio. Again, just type the pound sign followed by the word or phrase you want to use, and it’ll become a link. It’s not something that will automatically bring in more viewers, but it’s a way to indicate who you are and what you’re about.
Types Of Hashtags
There are a few different types of Instagram hashtags that you can use on your post. Here are a few of these types, and how they can benefit you.
This can be a brand’s name, slogan, or related phrase. For example, if your business is named ‘Mark’s Greengrocers’, then the hashtag could be #MarksGreengrocers. It may already exist on Instagram, so it’s worth searching for and see if it’s being used.
This is something you’ll see more and more of in advertising. On TV ads, the hashtag for the campaign may be shown at the bottom of the screen, for example. These are centered around a campaign, rather than the brand itself.
Community and industry hashtags
These are Instagram hashtags that are most commonly used within your industry. For example, if you sell craft beer, then #craftbeer, #craftbeercommunity and #craftbeergeek are some common ones you’ll find.
As you’d imagine, these hashtags center around your location. If you serve a local community, or have stores in certain locations, then you can use location hashtags to drive awareness of these facts. For example, for restaurants in the NYC area, they may use #NYCfoodie in their posts.
There are national days for almost anything you can think of, and you can take advantage of that in your hashtags. It’s a good way to raise awareness of what you do. For example, if you run a sushi restaurant, you can post on International Sushi Day, which is June 18th, with the hashtag #InternationalSushiDay.
These Instagram hashtags usually start with the day of the week, and then give a topic. #MondayMotivation and #ThrowbackThursday are examples of such hashtags. Pretty much any brand can take part in these, as they offer enough scope for you to work with.
How To Find The Right Hashtags
Now you have the basics of how Instagram hashtags are used, you’ll need to find the right ones. Hashtags are very similar to keywords, as by using the right ones for your audience, you’ll be able to bring more people to your content.
Because of this, you’re going to use a lot of the same tactics you’d use to find correct keywords for your content. Here’s how you can find the best keywords for your posts.
Know your audience
If you’re already working on marketing via Instagram, then you should be doing research on your audience. You need to know who they are and what they’re into, so you can give them the content they’re looking for. If you have a good idea of the kind of things they like to see, then you can use Instagram hashtags that are more likely to bring them in and get them thinking about your product.
Just as you would with keywords, you’ll need to start doing your research when it comes to Instagram hashtags. Which hashtags are going to have the best effect on your engagement? Check out influencers in your industry, and see what kind of hashtags they’re using on their posts. What kind of engagement do they get?
Also, follow some popular hashtags from your industry, and see what’s being posted with them. You’ll be able to see who’s using them, and what kind of engagement they’re getting. Take a look at the posts themselves, to see what’s being shared with them.
Try using Instagram hashtag tools
You’re not expected to try and find all these hashtags on your own as you do your research. There are several popular tools out there that you can use to help you find hashtags that will work for you. Most of them are free too, so you can use them without incurring any extra cost.
Most tools will generate hashtags for you, when you input a keyword for them. Some will also give you a count of how often that hashtag has been used. You can also search through categories, to see what else is being used out there. It’s a great place to start if you’re not sure about using tags.
Further Reading: The Top 23 Instagram Tools You Need for Successful Marketing
Use popular and long tail Instagram hashtags
If you use Instagram yourself, then you know that some hashtags become popular very quickly, and spread out over the platform. As a business, you can take advantage of those hashtags as they appear. You can see how popular a keyword is when you start writing it out. As you do so, you’ll see a count of how often that hashtag has been used on the platform. The higher the count, the more popular it is.
You can use these popular hashtags in order to get a small burst of likes, and bring in some more followers. However, that popular hashtag will be saturated quickly, and your post will be lost in the sea of similar ones before long. As such, you’ll want to make sure you’re using more long tail Instagram hashtags too.
Some feel that long tail hashtags aren’t as valuable, as they have less followers. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful to you. These hashtags will have more dedicated followings, and so you’ll get more engagement from those followers for a longer period of time. As there’s less people posting with that hashtag too, you’ll be visible longer.
Keep an eye on trending hashtags
There will always be hashtags that are currently trending, and as a business you should take advantage of this. These help you reach more people, and therefore get more engagement. For example, if there are holidays coming up that are related to your industry, these can help you get those followers.
Any social trends or upcoming news stories can create trending Instagram hashtags too, so make sure that you’re looking out for these. This is where hashtag tools really help, as they will be able to show you what’s trending right now.
Avoid banned Instagram hashtags
For those new to Instagram marketing, it’s worth being aware of the fact that there are banned hashtags. A banned hashtag is one that has been blocked by Instagram, because of reports of spamming, or or violation of community guidelines. If you do use them, you’re going to see a decline in engagement.
Using banned hashtags can also lead to ‘shadow bans‘. Being shadowbanned means that your new posts will only show up for those following your account. Obviously that’s not going to help you find leads, so make sure you’re checking any potential hashtags before you use them. Search the hashtag on Instagram, and if it’s banned there will be a note at the top of the page, telling you that the term has been hidden from the community.
Further Reading: 11 Common Instagram Mistakes That Kill Your Online Business
How To Use Those Instagram Hashtags
Now you’ve identified the Instagram hashtags that you want to use in your posts, you need to know how to use them to your advantage. Here’s how you can use the hashtags to get the maximum engagement on your posts, every time.
Get the number of hashtags just right
Did you know that you can use up to 30 Instagram hashtags on every post you make? With that number, you can include pretty much any hashtag that’s relevant to your post.
While that’s great in theory, you’ll want to consider whether you want to include all those hashtags, every time. There are a couple of schools of thought on this. Some feel that using all those hashtags helps you reach a wider audience, increasing engagement. Others say that this tactic can be construed as being spammy, and so will put some people off.
There have been studies that show that fewer hashtags is key to better engagement. The exact amount is debated, with some saying that just 1 – 3 hashtags is best, while others say you can have up to 11 Instagram hashtags. From these, you can see that having fewer quality hashtags will be better for you.
Place your hashtags correctly
Where should you place Instagram hashtags? There are several places you can use them, as mentioned above. Where you place them will depend on what you’re looking to do. For example, if you’re looking to link to a collection of posts that highlight what you do, putting that hashtag in your bio is what you should do.
If you’re trying to reach a wider audience, then placing them in the caption on a post should give you what you’re looking for. There are actually two different ways of doing this: either by placing them in the caption itself, or by putting them in the comments.
When you place the Instagram hashtags in the caption, you have the advantage of being able to go back and edit them later. Some prefer to place them in the first comment on the post, to separate them from the post itself. Both ways work to increase engagement, so you can experiment and see what works for you.
Some business have used the idea of putting their strongest hashtag in the post itself, and then placing additional hashtags in the comments. That’s something you can try with your posts and see if it works.
Try hiding your hashtags
Those Instagram hashtags are going to help drive people to your post, but you may not want them on full display as soon as someone looks at the post. As such, you have the option to hide them. This is fairly simple to do. Once you’ve uploaded your picture and written a caption, hit ‘Return’ and add a period a few times before you start adding the hashtags. Once the post is up, the hashtags will be under a ‘see more’ link, so they won’t be instantly visible to those looking at it.
There’s a lot to think about when using Instagram hashtags, but now you have the basics for creating your own posts and hashtags. With the right hashtags, you’ll be able to grab the attention of a wider audience, and bring them to your brand. Harness that power to increase your engagement, and convert those followers into sales.
Further Reading: 8 Powerful Ways How to Use Instagram Hashtags for More Exposure
Hero photo by Guilherme Lahmann on Unsplash