My Formula For Success With Hashtags

For the past month, I have been testing several ways of maximizing reach from hashtags, as this is a commonly requested topic.

The first thing to keep in mind about hashtag ranking, is that you’re only able to leverage a higher reach from hashtags (by ranking higher on bigger hashtags), if your post leverages a certain engagement momentum in the first 20-30 minutes after it’s published.

My Formula For Success With Hashtags

The reason for that resides on Instagram’s algorithmic behavior:

The more engagement your post registers in the first few minutes after it’s published, the more likely it is that Instagram’s algorithm will allow it to reach a wider audience that may also be interested in your post (this way, through showcasing your content to an audience that’s already interested in your niche, according to their browsing patterns, in-platform activity and interests, they’ll keep their users in the platform for more time).

Therefore, it is fundamental that you’re able to maximize your post’s reach – that’s how you’ll enhance its chance of ranking higher on bigger hashtags and, consequently, leveraging more reach and follower-gain from this source.

That said, I’d like to share some of the results I’ve gotten so far, as well as exactly how I did it:

Use Location Tags on every post

People usually disregard location tags, rather because they don’t know why they should use them, or simply because they don’t think it’s going to make a difference in regards to their posts’ performance.

What I have observed is that by leveraging a relatively high reach from “location”, you’ll be able to eventually leverage that extra engagement on your post, which plays a massive role towards its hashtag ranking.

You’re more likely to scale your reach from location by inserting a location tag that corresponds to a largely searched city, as well as very specific, yet popular places, such as popular tourist stops and certain events that attract a lot of attention from the masses.

The more features of Instagram you use, the better your page’s health score will be, and by constantly including location tags in your posts, Instagram’s algorithm will favor your post to rank higher in top location-tagged posts.

Use CTA’s (Calls To Action) in your posts

By doing this, you’re able to maximize the reach from a source called “other”, which escalates fast within the first hour after posting, making it the most powerful source in what regards hashtag reach maximization.

That said, using CTA’s on your posts shall encourage and invite your audience to perform certain actions that lead to the maximizing of your reach from “other”.

As I covered in past posts, “other” corresponds to reach from collection of subcategories in a post, such as when shared through direct messages, shared through stories and saved.

Thus, that’s the type of interaction that you want to privilege and entice on your posts through your CTA’s.

These can be anything from a more direct approach, such as “Tag 3 friends who need to see this” to a more subtle and smooth enticement “What are your thoughts?”. The most fundamental aspect to retain is that your CTA must invite your audience to manifest a certain (re)action that leads to “other” reach maximization.

Develop a mimetic hashtag strategy

Now that you know how to maximize your posts’ reach from “location” and “other”, here comes the topic that is completely centered on hashtags themselves.

In this topic, I’ll explain exactly, step-by-step, how I go about doing my hashtag research, such as I did in a past post, and how it’s contributing to the acquired results:

Go to your Instagram page’s search function (just as if you’re checking out the explore page);

Search for a popular hashtag that’s strictly related to your niche;

Search for at least 3-5 posts that have similar engagement levels as the ones you average, in a certain amount of time (this is a very simple process: see when their post was published and compare their engagement level to yours, in the same amount of time. For instance, if your post has 600 likes in 1 hour and theirs has 550-650, then you can safely say that both pages leverage a similar engagement in a similar amount of time. Make sure that this applies to their average posts, by also comparing your average engagement levels to theirs, on the last 12 posts);

Analyze their hashtag sets in terms of the specific hashtags they use, as well as their size;

Select and retain hashtags that are relevant for your post and mix them together, to make your own set. Keep in mind that the hashtags that you should apply to a specific post are not necessarily ideal for you to apply to a post that features a distinct location or subtheme, which reinforces the need of adapting your hashtag sets for each post, individually. It may be a bit more time consuming, but it does pay off, as it works extremely better.

Here’s why it works:

By searching for these profiles, you’re directly analyzing posts that are featured and ranking high on the top hashtags of a certain niche and category.

As you go through the hashtag sets that they’ve used, you will most likely find patterns that will provide you with a better understanding of what type of sets you should be applying towards your page as well – because you’re in the same niche AND leverage similar engagement levels in a similar time span.

To keep it as succinct as possible, this may imply that if their post could rank so high in a top hashtag, yours may too, as your page’s characteristics are similar – thus using similar hashtag sets, or sets with the same size distribution, is recommendable and, according to my experience a great new way of approaching hashtags if you’re having a hard time leveraging high levels of reach from them.

This is a research form that I have been testing and applying in the past month and a half, and it has provided me with results such as the ones shown below.

Hope this was insightful! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

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