How To Use Hashtags On Instagram For Organic Growth
Hashtags have been around since more than a decade ago. And one thing about hashtags that has remained the same – even after the rise of Instagram reels, stories, and IGTV – is that hashtags help with profile exposure.
Search for #travelwithme and 3 million posts pop up.
Search for #(yourshopname) and there are fewer than 100 posts.
How do you create a hashtag that is searchable, and at the same time, squirm your way into the thousands of pictures with the same hashtag? How can you use hashtags that bring you interested audiences and not coincidental, passive impressions?
Include hashtags for your audience, not your business
Hashtags help you find people for your business, but that’s only if your content is able to reach them when they need it. That is why hashtags are for your audience, not your business. Consider the hashtag #XYZdeluxevilla – a suite your company wants to promote, and a couple looking for a #weekendgetaway. Which of the two hashtags would a couple search for when looking for getaway ideas?
It’s the same for other scenarios that even you may commonly find yourself in. In the example above, hashtags on the left are more likely what people would search for off the top of their head as compared to the ones in the right column. A person looking for a date night outfit would not have the name of a dress in mind, nor would a person looking for cafes intuitively search for a particular dish. Hashtags that are either too specific to a brand (i.e. reza evening dress), or include irrelevant words in the search (i.e. awesome home living inspirations) rarely produce results. The key is really to put yourself in the shoes of your audience.
Pro Tip : It doesn’t matter if you choose to include hashtags in the caption or comments section.
Mix your hashtags and hashtag groups
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags to be used for each post, and that is more than enough to mix and match hashtags of different popularity and specificity. Ideally, 20 to 25 hashtags that have been strategically curated should do the trick. Here’s a recipe that works for us:
- 3 to 5 popular hashtags (between 100,000 to 500,000)
- 3 to 5 moderately popular hashtags (between 80,000 to 100,000)
- 3 to 5 niche-specific hashtags (specific to your product, service, and/ or industry)
- 1 to 2 branded hashtags (specific to your business)
Posts with popular hashtags are essentially competing with accounts that have over thousands of likes, views, and comments. If you’re a small to medium business, your content is likely to be drowned out by bigger accounts within hours. But, with moderately popular hashtags, your content can stay afloat on the explore page for up to a few days and increase the chances of being seen.
While content with niche-specific hashtags take a longer period of time to convert strangers to followers, or followers to clients, people who search for them are typically a ready buyer of your products and services. For example, you wouldn’t search for wedding photographers unless you’re planning for a wedding. This same reason is why having a branded hashtag can be helpful, especially when your friends and clients share your content on their personal page. It creates brand awareness to people who may have not heard of your business, and increases brand recall if they share your content frequently.
Pro Tip : Do not simply copy your competitors’ hashtags without doing your own research. Bigger brands may have a specific hashtag strategy that doesn’t apply to your business.
Match hashtags to your content
While hashtags are more or less the same and can be reused, they would not apply to every single piece of content. And even if the hashtags work well and pop up top of the results page, it is less likely that a user would click on the picture if it’s not what he’s looking for.
One way to gauge is to see if your post blends in with other search results. If everyone’s clearly posting about food and places, then a selfie in the mirror would appear most irrelevant amidst mouth-watering food. And if it doesn’t compel them to even open the picture, users will simply scroll away.
It may help to google the hashtags you need, such as hashtags for wedding, hashtags for photography, hashtags for fashion, and any other hashtags that you need. Look at Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest, check out what hashtags people use and if you can replicate them onto your own posts.
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