How to use hashtags on Instagram to grow your community
According to a study by Sprout Social, an Instagram post with at least one hashtag gets about 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. So using hashtags on Instagram is really beneficial if you want to grow your brand’s page. Using the right hashtags is also one of the best ways to get discovered by new people who are interested in your brand’s topic. Combining the right hashtags with inspiring content can eventually lead to more engagement, followers, and hopefully more sales.
Article by Celien Feys, Social Media Manager at Chase Creative
Every Instagram caption can be accompanied by up to 30 hashtags. Depending on the subject or category of your posts, there’s always a group of relevant hashtags. By using the right combination of hashtags, your post will be categorized and distributed to people who are interested in the same topic or subject. Not only is it relevant to put hashtags on your feed posts, but also on your Instagram Stories. That way, you’ll get even more exposure.
As you can see, using hashtags is a great way to reach new people who don’t follow you yet. Here’s a guide to how to get started with using hashtags on Instagram:
1. Find the most effective hashtags
There are a few handy ways to find the right hashtags. Always look at what your competition or accounts about the same topic are doing and which hashtags they are using. The generic rule is, the more niche the topic is, the more conversation and engagement will be around it. So it’s important to find hashtags that get a lot of engagement but are very niche at the same time. When you type in a certain keyword in the ‘tags’ search section of Instagram, you’ll also find relatable hashtags. You will have to do some research on those to see if they’re part of the big ones or the more niche ones.
There are also a few tools that help you find relevant hashtags. Later.com has one of those, Hashtagify.me is one of them,… Another source where you can find the right hashtags for your posts is by looking at which ones relevant influencers use.
2. Use more niche hashtags
Instagram features ‘top posts’ on the hashtag pages (and this also decides whether your post will be visible to people who follow that specific hashtag. Top posts are posts that get a lot of engagement (likes, comments, saves, etc.) within the first two hours of posting. You can see how much engagement you’ll need to get featured. With the popular hashtags, it’s a lot. Try finding hashtags that are more niche, so it’s easier to get featured on the top posts page.
3. Follow these hashtags on Instagram
Instagram added a feature in 2018 that enables you to follow relevant hashtags. That way you’ll always know what’s posted on social media about the topics you or your brand are interested in. It’s a way of social listening many people haven’t considered yet.
This also means people now automatically get your posts on their feed when following a hashtag you used. So it has now become even more important to use the right relevant hashtags in your posts, but it also means your posts absolutely have to be good, as people now have the option to “not show this post for this hashtag.”
4. Mention your core hashtags in your bio
As of 2019, you can also put hashtags in your bio. What’s so great about this feature is that it makes your bio even more functional — you can use hashtags for everything from promoting your Instagram community to highlighting your branded content and announcing your Instagram campaigns.
5. Organize your hashtags
The best thing to do is save the hashtags you use somewhere, like in your notes or on a spreadsheet. You can put 30 hashtags on every post, and it’s advised to use all 30 of them. Make an extra effort to find at least 60 relevant hashtags. Make different groups of hashtag combinations, so you don’t always use the same ones.
There used to be this belief that if you kept putting the same hashtags on every post, you would get “ghosted” by Instagram, and the algorithm would make sure your posts weren’t visible anymore. However, that fact has never been proven. The theory behind this is that if you keep posting with the same hashtags, you’ll get marked as ‘spam’. Especially if you use generic engagement-driven hashtags such as ‘#likeforlike’ for example.
It’s good to have groups of hashtags that contain some big hashtags, some medium-sized ones, and some very specific ones. The big ones are hashtags like the generic ones. For example #throwbackthursday #tbt, #ootd, #foodporn,… They’re usually used thousands of times per minute, so there is a chance that you’ll disappear from the explore page in seconds. So it’s important to mix it up with medium-sized hashtags and very specific ones to your topic.
So for example, if you’re posting a photo of your cat, and you really want to make your cat Instafamous, using really generic hashtags like #catsofinstagram won’t make your post very visible. As the hashtag has been used over 117 million times. Using a smaller hashtag like #instakitty will work a bit better, as it’s only been used 2.8 million times.
Smaller hashtags or very specific ones (like #pdxpets = 28K) work well as you’ll reach an audience that’s already very engaged with the topic.
6. Evaluate your hashtag strategy
With an Instagram Business profile, you can see the statistics of your post. When you press the insights button, you’ll be able to see how many people your post has reached, and how many of those came through the hashtags. However, one of the downsides here is that you can’t know which hashtag was most successful.
There are a few companies that offer hashtag analytics, such as Hashtagify.me, Later.com, Iconosquare, and Union Metrics. With those tools, you can track key insights about the hashtags you use, including a breakdown of which hashtags are driving the most likes, comments, impressions, saves, and reach on your Instagram posts.
Knowing which hashtags are the most effective in getting your posts discovered is extremely beneficial for businesses. It can help you refine your hashtag strategy by eliminating the hashtags that aren’t getting you results, while doubling-down on the ones that are.
To conclude, hashtags are still very useful to build your community, as long as you put in the work to find the right hashtags and do your research to find your niche. Leave the generic and cheaper options for what they are and find specific ones. It’s a process that takes time, but as a community manager, it’s a very helpful tool.
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