So often we hear about people’s reluctance to use hashtags for fear of their account appearing spammy or gimmicky; however, the implementation of an effective hashtag strategy can now determine the make or break between a post flying straight into the limelight of users’ feeds or disappearing into the abyss without a trace. Hand-selecting the most relevant hashtags for each individual post will significantly increase your brand visibility making your content much easier to find and will place your profile in view of boundless new and untapped audiences. This is particularly valuable for emerging brands trying to place themselves on the digital map. Stay tuned for some tips and tricks on how to start maximising your reach today.
Do Your Research
While it’s true that hashtag inclusion can work wonders for your follower growth, a well thought out approach to hashtag application will ensure you’re reaching the right audience for your specific account. Take the time to explore each potential hashtag in the “Tags” tab of Instagram’s search function, paying particular attention to the number of posts assigned to it, the genre of content it generates and the number of likes on its high-performing posts. For a nudge of inspiration, utilise free tools such as GravTag and AllHashtag to explore suggested lists that suit your content, along with analytical tools to gauge how effectively each hashtag will perform.
Win With Precision
One blunder all too commonly made is the use of hugely popular, generic hashtags in the hopes of reaching a broader audience. Doing so will only place your post in direct competition with millions of other global users, and will inevitably drop off the first few discoverable search rows in a matter of seconds. For your best shot, work towards a mixture of trending and industry-specific hashtags that vary in format and genre and aim for the sweet spot between broadly used enough that it’s discoverable, but not so much that it gets lost in the void (we find that 12 - 150K works best).
Less Is More
It’s important to note that Instagram operates a maximum hashtag capacity of 30. Users that exhibit “spammy” behaviour by repetitively posting the same 30 hashtags can be penalised with blocked content which becomes invisible on hashtag feeds. This can be avoided by regularly varying the number and type of hashtags you include in your posts. It is generally held that posts featuring 11 hashtags generate the highest level of interaction, with engagement climbing with each number of hashtags up to 11, and declining thereafter. If you do wish to make the most of the maximum 30 allowance, it is best practice to include the set of hashtags within the first comment of your post to neaten the appearance and avoid overcrowding captions.
Suss Out The Competition + Emerging Trends
In addition to increased visibility, hashtags also provide a great mechanism for conducting competitor research. By searching industry-specific keywords, you’ll gain access to a variety of content created by like-minded users within the same niche, and explore the hashtags on their top-performing posts to establish which would be most powerful for your own social media marketing strategy. Dipping into this frequently will help you remain abreast of current news and hot-off-the-press trends, which will add further credibility and authority to your brand.
Written by Saskia Gunewardena