It’s a fact that Instagram posts with at least one hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement than those without. And when it comes to this social network on the rise, hashtags are the most powerful way of increasing reach on the photo-sharing network.
They might sound like a millennial’s fad, but they’re crucial for your business and online presence. Using them on your Instagram posts is proven to increase reach, draw new audiences to your profile, create greater engagement and boost your brand awareness and this gain in exposure can be turned into more customers and revenue further down the line. In other words, you need to know how to use them!
How many to use?
When it comes to the number of hashtags you should use, there are hundreds of different opinions. Some people tell you to use the maximum 30 on every post, others say that you should only use 7, other articles suggest the use of 21, 2, 5. Just about every number under 30 has been suggested as the optimum number and every single one of them is correct. Why? Each individual post, profile, brand, and industry require a different amount.
In order to be successful on Instagram, you must post regular content. This means plenty of opportunities to find your optimum number and experiment with different hashtags. So, test, test, test!
Finding the best Hashtags for your business
Using the same hashtags over and over and over again isn’t the way to go. It’s a lazy strategy and shows that you’d rather just get your Instagram posts published than actually take time to reach more people.
The same can be said about users who repeatedly use the top 30 in their niche. They might have the widest reach, but they also have the most competition, meaning that your chances of reaching anyone new are drastically reduced.
If you’re just starting out, have a smaller audience (under 5k) or are posting something that doesn’t have viral-quality, don’t target the most popular hashtags. Try to gain traction with lesser-used hashtags. They have a lower competition and can have much more engaged communities.
Start by looking for relevant ‘trending’ hashtags, they might be short-lived, but they draw in masses of engagement and interest. If you’re able to gain comments and likes in a short space of time, you’ll rise higher in the rankings of the most popular Instagram hashtags.
Another strategy is to go after small, ultra-specific audiences. These followers are engaged, hold an interest in your industry and there’s very little competition. You might have a smaller potential reach by using hashtags like these, but your actual reach should be much higher.
How not to use Instagram Hashtags
Only use top Hashtags
As mentioned earlier, using just the top Instagram hashtags is a flawed strategy. You’re basically throwing your hat in the ring with a heavyweight when you’ve barely learned how to use a pair of boxing gloves.
Mix up your hashtag strategy with constant competitor research, hashtag generators and scouring the network for the latest trending subjects and never forget to keep those super-relevant!
Don’t use them enough
You might think they are stupid, but in reality, there are very important. Incorporate as many relevant, trending, community-based and top hashtags as possible, and you’ll see the results. And always keep your target audience in mind. If it works for 100% of other people, it’ll probably work for you too.