Many people struggle with hashtags, rather because they don’t know their utility, or they don’t know how to apply them correctly.
Today I will provide you with basic know-how on what hashtags’ purpose is, and how to find the best hashtags to apply to your page, without any external software or service:
Why use hashtags?
The main purpose of hashtags is to increase / maximize your posts’ reach and engagement, which mostly leads to quality follower-gain, as they constitute one of the 3 sources of external reach (the other 2 are the explore page and “other”), being the most targeted source of reach, due to its niche-related precision.
How do I find the best hashtags that my audience is following?
Use Instagram’s search function (just as if you were looking for the explore page), by typing in hashtags that are relevant to your brand, business or niche. Instagram will provide you with several hashtags on that category and the number of associated posts.
Check out the hashtags that your competitors (the top performing pages of your niche) are using. This way, not only will you learn about new hashtags that you can add to your sets, but you will be more familiarized with successful hashtag tendencies.
Meeting the first point, use some of the hashtags that influential people in your niche are using (learn from the best). Instagram success is about standing out content-wise, but it also has to do with mimetic processes when it comes to applying its tools.
Now it’s time to know how to correctly apply them in order to leverage maximized results:
This one is a bit extensive, so bear with me here
The goal is to use a set of hashtags that are popular amongst a certain niche, but you shall apply them congruently with the content that your post displays.
The hashtags you want to use on your posts depend on your niche, on the post itself and on the size and momentum of your page.
What I mean by this is that it will be easier for your page to rank higher on bigger hashtags if its posts receive a lot of engagement (likes, comments and saves).
The algorithmic explanation is fairly simple – as your content is highly engaged with, the Instagram algorithm will assume that your content is valuable, allowing it to reach out to more users that may be interested on it, as their browsing and engagement patterns are mainly focused on that same niche.
For instance, let’s say that you own a page with 50k organic followers on the travel niche and you’ve posted a picture of a traveler in a van.
Your page will most likely be eligible to rank high on some top hashtags, meaning that you can summarize your hashtag set in big hashtags such as travel; nomad; earth; travelblogger; van; rvlife, etc.
Now, if your page has 5k followers, for instance, belonging to the same niche and posting similar content that isn’t very engaged with, it is much more effective for you to go for just 5-7 top hashtags and apply 15 to 20 small to medium hahstags in the same category, such as rvlifestyle; rvliving; rvcamping; travelcommunity; traveloften; travelsolo, etc.
Experiment, experiment and experiment.
You will only be able to fully tell what the best hashtag strategy for you is by applying different sets on different posts yourself.
I am providing you with the “science” behind it, but be aware that hashtags are a very volatile asset of Instagram and very different hashtag appliances produce very distinct results.
Hashtags won’t solve your page’s exposure issues just by themselves.
They have to be well accompanied with quality content (content that has viral potential) and with assets that optimize your engagement and, consequently, reach, such as powerlikes and engagement groups. The “secret” for Instagram growth is to put a strategy into practice, that fosters the correct appliance of a number of assets that enhance your page’s overall performance.
The New Way Of Succeeding With Hashtags
A hashtag on Instagram works as an identifier for the algorithm. It helps contextualize your posts and helps the algorithm understand who you’re trying to have locking eyes with your content.
Take some time to think through the type of Instagram post you are sharing and who the ideal audience is, and build your hashtag set according to that line of reasoning.
As a content creator, you should do this, as opposed to considering which hashtags link to your audience’s interests, and trying to shape your content to match.
A branded hashtag may also work if your company has enough brand recognition in your niche.
This might seem like a lot of work, but an hour or two spent on a hashtag strategy can help target your audience in a much more direct manner.
When it comes to hashtags on Instagram, it’s important to apply the following actions:
Use all 30 hashtags – after testing this amount within the past 7 months for some of the pages I personally run, I have started applying it to my clients’ pages, as it’s been providing extra reach, when compared to lower amounts of hashtags per set;
If you don’t want them to show up, you can hide them with five dots under your caption;
Make sure to add them to the post’s caption (not the comments, as Instagram’s algorithm will perceive them as a comment of yours on your own post);
Use niche relevant hashtags (take time to research them first);
Follow hashtags to see what is most relevant and valuable for that audience – what people are seeing and searching for the most;
Utilize the power of less popular, long-tail hashtags, that are related to a niche or theme that has a real sense of familiarity and community, with the same effect as if it was an inside joke;
Remember: if you only aim for the more popular hashtags, you can get lost in the millions of other posts quickly. You likely won’t make the Top Posts unless you’re a large brand that leverages very high engagement levels.
Alongside increasing your visibility and your reach, hashtags help you generate more engagement, which translates to target followers. Instagram forms of engagement are essentially a vote, showing the content resonated with the user in some way.
And that’s what hashtags are for.
Hope that this was helpful! Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions!