Point-blank, hashtags can be overwhelming. When you start an Instagram account for your business, blog, or any other venture, you’re looking to gain traction as quickly as possible. Using free hacks to get your company ahead, like utilizing hashtags, is essential and cost-effective. Here are my top 4 tips for using Instagram hashtags to your advantage.
1. Don’t bombard us, please.
When I started my company, Fit + Flatter, I wasn’t educated on hashtag etiquette and found myself posting them at random, often in the original comment of the photo. I quickly figured out that most people post a second comment with a lot of dots and then the hashtags. Why? To make the post look as clean and streamlined as possible. Potential followers don’t want to be bombarded by your hashtags; they want to read the comment and catch a glimpse into what your account is about.
2. How many should I be using?
There are a lot of conflicting reports about how many hashtags you should use per post. My take? Try to take advantage of as many as you can, but don’t use any that aren’t relevant. For a smaller, newer account, it’s essential to make your mark and gain a following. At this stage, you should take advantage of all 30 hashtags. Using the maximum number (and making them super-targeted) is your best bet at starting to get some traction on your account.
3. Targeted hashtags
A bit time consuming, but definitely worth it. First things first, every hashtag on Instagram has a correlating number of times it’s been used. Consider a dog-centric account using #dog. At the time of this writing, #dog has 146,063,581 posts on Instagram. So why does that matter? The larger the number of posts a hashtag has, the quicker you are going to get lost in the shuffle–unless you have a large following… which, judging by the fact that you are reading this, I’m going to guess you don’t. It is essential to look at comparable Instagram accounts and the hashtags they are using.
First, click through their recent posts and look at their hashtags, then see what the top posts are for that specific hashtag. How many likes are they getting? What type of content is it? This is how you start to select the hashtags that are the right ones for you and weed out the ones that aren't.
Next, it's time to do some testing as you use these hashtags and keep track of which ones are working for your account. You’ll find a kind of ceiling for the hashtags you can make a dent in. For example, a hashtag with 35,000 posts might get you in the top posts section for a while and get you 15% more engagement than you normally get, while a hashtag with 40,000 posts might not land you in the top section and you might only see 5% increase in likes. For that time being, you should stick to using hashtags with 35,000 posts or under.