Note 1: In case you are not familiar yet with the term hashtag, in relation to social media (not the phone symbol), I recommend you take a quick look here – but don’t forget to come back!
Note 2: If you don’t have an Instagram account for your brand, you are missing out on a huge piece of pie! 90% of the top brands in the world are already using the platform as a very efficient channel to reach their target audience. Time to hop on that train!
Back to business, in the following article I will point out a few of the main reasons why you need to use hashtags on Instagram (backed up by stats of course), what is the optional number of hashtags you need to use, how to choose the relevant ones and how to find the popular ones from within your industry. All this information will hopefully help you build up an effective Instagram hashtag strategy to increase your visibility and followers. While, if you need help with improving your portfolio’s online presents and attracting more clients to your website – check out our website templates.
First Thing’s First. Why Should You Use Hashtags on Instagram?
The beauty of Instagram are its hashtags. You post a photo and ideally it’s seen by all your followers, but how about adding a few more million views to it? This June, Instagram announced that their users number surpassed 600 million, and over 300 million are users who use Instagram on a daily basis. Imagine the potential this platform has for your following and business growth?
At the same time, there are over 95 million photos posted each day. All competing for some part of the attention and engagement. This is where hashtags come in handy. They make your content discoverable, thus allow you to reach a much larger audience. Do it right, and you can convert that audience into followers, and later potential clients.
Rome was not built in a day. Similarly, adding a few relevant hashtags wouldn’t get you 5 thousand likes at once (though it has happened a few times). Just like Facebook and other social platforms, Instagram has some general algorithms that take into account the number of hashtags you’ve used, how popular your posts are, how many followers you have, etc. If you take some time and put some thought into your hashtag strategy, soon you will notice a significant difference in likes, views and followers.
How Many Hashtags should I use on Instagram?
Before I even share any recommendations, watch this video:
Though Instagram allows you to post up to 30 hashtags with each post, I suggest keeping it clean and cool, and using not more than 7 hashtags (at least for the photo description). Otherwise, your posts may look crowded if not desperate. According to TrackMaven, posts that have 4 – 5 hashtags receive around 22 interactions, while posts with no hashtags stay below 15 interactions. At the same time, if you increase the number of hashtags, the number of interactions start dropping slowly.
Nonetheless, if you do want to add just a few more hashtags to your post, a common practice among Instagram users is hiding them in the first comment. You can even use the following “formula”:
The 5 dots hide your comment between brackets and keep your post looking clean and smooth.
Relevant Hashtags and How to Find them?
Throwing in random popular hashtags won’t get you too far. If a user searches for the hashtag “dogsofinstagram” he/she expects to see lots and lots of awesome photos of dogs. Your yoga or lunch image will surely show up (if you used the hashtag) but will not get linked, even clicked on probably.
3 things to remember:
– your hashtags need to relate to your post.
– your keywords (the ones you’ve picked for your SEO strategy) can be also your hashtags when relevant. Think what people could be searching on Instagram.
– create and use a few branded hashtags, and let your fans/clients know about it. Encourage them to use these hashtags too. According to Simply Measured, 70% of the most used hashtags are brand related.
So don’t be shy, come up with a personalized hashtag, and use it consistently on all your posts. It can be yourbrandname (#nike), it can be your slogan (#justdoit), or it can be a compilation of words related to your industry and brand (#stayfit). Use it on your posts, throw out a contest, giveaway or any other type of fan engagement strategy. It may get picked up by your fans (i.e. our branded hashtag for a fun inspiration photography project that we are doing #365awesomephotographers )
There are a few different ways you can find relevant and popular hashtags. Similar to any other research work, start with your competitors and influencers from your industry. Analyze the hashtags they are using, check out how popular each hashtag is ( you can do that just by clicking on the hashtag. It will take you to a page showing the total amount of times this hashtag was used). Try to integrate the ones that are relevant to you.
Another simple way to search for keywords is by simply typing in the key word. You can do it in the search bar, and select the Tags tab or type directly in your photo description.
Say, you start typing #wedding and Instagram automatically gives you a list of hashtags witch start with the word “wedding”. It also shows you the number of times it has been used, which gives you an accurate idea about its popularity.
Tools to find Relevant & Popular Hashtags for Instagram
You’d be surprised how many different tools and websites exist to help you create a perfect list of relevant popular hashtags for your brand. Here are a few that you may like:
This one is a marvel. You can use some of its features for free, and go premium if you’d rather have access to the whole analysis of each hashtag. Just type in a keyword, and it will show you a list of the most popular hashtags related to your keyword, how many times they were used and how closely they correlate to the original word. It also shows you the top influencers for your keyword.
Similarly, you can type in your keyword and it will generate 30 random hashtags that include that word. This may not provide you an in-depth analysis of each hashtag, but it does provide some extra inspiration in terms of what type of hashtags you can use. While competing among the most popular ones could be tough, if you select a word that is average on the popularity graph – you might increase your discoverability chances.
What’s great about Keyhole, is that you can peek at hashtags or users’ account performance. Check out the overall performance of your posts or your competitors’ posts, the hashtags they use, the days and time they post, their most popular posts. Try to understand what makes each post so popular and engaging.
You can also check out Websta and Iconosquare. The latter is incredibly useful when you want to track your new followers / lost followers, get a more in-depth analysis on each post, love and engagement rates, growth, tag usage, etc.
Hopefully the information described above will get you back into the game, and bring you some additional Love on Instagram. And remember, Instagram becomes more fun and enjoyable when you don’t just receive the Love but also spread it around. Search for relevant hashtags, like other peoples’ images, leave personal comments – many of them will return the favor, I promise!