Is the hashtag dead in 2020? A strange question to start off with, but a valid one nonetheless, and the answer is, no, we don’t think so at all, but things have definitely changed in the last few years.
Instagram hashtags used to be one of the most enticing and well-integrated parts of the platform. After Twitter made the humble hashtag an important search tool from 2009 onwards, Instagram fully embroiled the functionality when it was released a few years later in 2012.
Share a photo with a particular hashtag and get in the most popular section, that way you’ll get lots of likes and follows. That was definitely the advice we would have given a few years ago. You may have even been told to make sure your photos were tagged with the top Instagram hashtags. Using hashtags for likes was a fairly common method of growing your account, that is before Facebook jumped in to curtail the spread of poor quality hashtag stuffing.
Roll around to 2020, and Instagram has matured somewhat, the algorithms have become more clever, and the hashtag has become less about the likes and more a powerful tool for engagement and growth.
What is an Instagram Hashtag and Why Do We Use Them?
You may be asking, ‘What is a hashtag?’ and it’s a valid question! Hashtags are, in purely technical terms, a type of meta tag used on social networking platforms, a simpler way of thinking about it is a way to label your content along a theme.
For Labelling Media
Hashtags for Instagram are used in exactly the same way by creators looking to label their content to reach a specific audience.
You may have a lovely photo of a beach at sunset and want to include some of the popular Instagram hashtags for your content, such as #beach and #sunset. However, you may also go a little more abstract and include hashtags such as #relaxing, #holiday, #rest, or you may even want to include something about the location like #California or #CostaRica.
For Brand Promotions
Hashtags aren’t just used for labelling content; they can also be used by brands to promote their content or to group user content together.
A really great example of this is YouTuber photographer Peter McKinnon; he often runs competitions for his followers asking them to share photos on their own Instagram feeds with a particular associated hashtag, for example, the #PMPhotoAssignments hashtag that he has been using to host photo competitions for his audience during the COVID-19 worldwide lockdowns. Brands will also use hashtags to tag their own content so that users may follow a particular hashtag to get their content
For Triggering Actions
The third way hashtags are used across social networking is to trigger actions.
If creators are using automation services such as IFTTT, hashtags can be used to trigger a secondary action, such as if you post your lovely sunset photo and tag it was #wellness, a pin goes on your wellness Pinterest board. In this case, it’s a manual decision set up as to what the particular hashtag will do.
For Bots and Automation
Bots will comb Instagram and look for posts tagged with a particular hashtag and leave a like or comment on the post, or even follow the person who posted it.
Of course, this completely removes the human element to Instagram and can lead to uses being labelled as spam and, if the bot isn’t set up correctly, it can lead to users commenting on or liking posts that are not what they expected. If you were an architect, you may think that liking photos with the hashtag ‘#high’ would be a good way to go, but it’s really not!
Most bots these days are fairly sophisticated in that they will have a list of very related topics to like and comment on, as well as a list of hashtags to ignore (such as #guns or #porn). Most bots will also have lists of users to whitelist (users they will not unfollow) and users that are on the blacklist (users they won’t follow or interact with).
For this reason, Instagram takes a very stern view of users using bots and will warn them or even disable their accounts.
For Humorous Purposes
Another way people use hashtags for labelling content is much more scientific; hashtags can be a great way to inject a bit of tongue in cheek humour to your posts! Possibly the most famous of the humour hashtags is the #AskingForAFriend hashtag, users will often post a funny question and use the #AskingForAFriend hashtag as a bit of an in-joke.
For example, you may post a picture of you throwing a ball for your dog, and the ball happens to be the same colour as your nail polish. Your caption may then read, “Everyone buys their dog toys that match their nails, right? #AskingForAFriend". It’s an ironic and relatable joke because your users know that you are actually talking about yourself.
For Trending News
Speaking of dogs, another great use for hashtags is to get behind a global movement. This has been quite a popular move on Twitter where hashtags can be used for particular events such as trending news stories, or tv shows, which allow users an easy method to keep up with live events.
Instagram works in a similar way, but there is less emphasis on the live aspect (due to Instagram’s algorithm).
So, how does this apply to dogs? Have a quick search for #DogsAtPollingStations on Instagram and you’ll see a great example of a popular (and really adorable) Instagram hashtag in action!
What are hashtags used for on other social media platforms?
On other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, hashtags are used for a similar reason as Instagram, but on Facebook, their use is less popular due to the very fact that Instagram and Twitter are, for the most part, public platforms in that most users keep their profiles on both sites fully pubic. On Facebook, though, it’s much more common to keep profiles as private as possible.
What this means for hashtags on Facebook is that, although you may use them on your personal profile, they won’t show up in search. If your profile is public, or you’re using them on your business or brand page, the hashtags will become clickable and added to the search.
Facebook’s own blog says:
“Hashtags turn topics and phrases into clickable links in posts on your profile or Page. When people click a hashtag or search for a hashtag, they’ll see a results [sic] that contain the hashtag so they can learn more about topics that interest them.”
Hashtags were, and still are, one of the main drivers for searchable content on Twitter. The microblogging platform has really embraced the hashtag, and users can follow and get involved with trending hashtags on Twitter much more easily than any other social networking platform. You are able to add a hashtag to your tweets, search for hashtags in the search box, or use the trending option on the right-hand side of your screen (on the web browser version) to get involved with tailored and interest-related hashtags. Twitter also offers the opportunity to sponsor hashtags too!
How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags
If you’re serious about upping your Instagram game, you’ll want to get serious about finding the most popular Instagram hashtags for your brand or business and start getting involved.
You can use hashtags on Instagram to both promote and build a community. Getting involved with others in your niche, and enabling your fans (or potential fans!) to find you easier.
It’s important to note here that there IS a limit to how many hashtags you can add to a post (the limit is 30 hashtags), and there is a fine line between using just the right amount of hashtags on your posts, and using too many and looking spammy.
You may be tempted to just do a search for the trending Instagram hashtags or the trending hashtags today, but in doing that, you’re more than likely going to come up with hashtags like #likeforlike, #f4f, #followforfollow, or even the more innocent-sounding #photopftheday. While the latter is fairly innocent, the former hashtags are very spammy, and your (real) followers will think so too.
If you’re serious about your hashtag game, it’s a much better idea to stick to hashtags that are in your niche, and that applies to your post, as well as use your own branded hashtag if you are going down that route.
Users searching hashtags on Instagram will then be able to find your content, and it will fit in with their search, rather than your content jumping out as unrelated and risking them marking you as spam.
The Best Instagram Hashtags
So, without further ado, we’ve brought together some of the most popular hashtags on Instagram in particular niches, these are great to add to your content so you can build your following and your community naturally and in a non-spammy way!
Top Instagram Hashtags for Fashion
Fashion is a big thing on Instagram, we’ve had a look at 15 of the top Instagram fashion hashtags on posts so you can get involved in the conversation.
Use these hashtags to get involved with the fashion community, but don’t forget to narrow your posts down a bit. Hashtags such as #fashionista are very general, but if you’re posting a pic of your new heels, include #heels in there to be a bit more specific.
Some of these hashtags may cross over as Instagram beauty hashtags too!
Top Instagram Hashtags for Makeup
Up your beauty and makeup game by getting involved in Instagram’s massive makeup community.
Whether you’re a makeup professional or just someone who likes to get all glammed up, Instagram is a great place to show off your latest work, here are our 15 favourites:
Include some generic and some more specific hashtags in your post to reach new audiences. Hashtags like #GetTheLook can be especially helpful if you are branching out into makeup tutorials.
Top Instagram Hashtags for Fitness
Instagrammers love a bit of fitness! Fitness, health, and wellness are HUGE topics on Instagram, this is great news for those wondering if there is an audience, but it also means there’s fierce competition.
The 15 tags we’ve listed below are very popular but quite generic, we’d suggest including them but using some specific to you hashtags (such as branded hashtags or hashtags for specific workouts) to mark your content out and allow your personal audience to find you better.
Due to the popularity of fitness Instagram hashtags, we’d suggest really being strict on which hashtags you add to your post, go with one or two generic hashtags, but throw in a few really specific ones too.
Top Instagram Hashtags for Travel
Are you using Instagram to give others the travel feels? You need to be adding hashtags to your posts that promote that wanderlust! Here are the top 15 hashtags for travel that we really liked.
Generic hashtags for travel are a great way to connect to the booming travel community, but if you want to create an account that may be picked up for more professional reasons (such as sponsorship and book deals), then you may find it useful to include something about your location and a few branded hashtags to get you noticed.
Consider these five as a bit of a bonus:
- #Visit[location] - This hashtag, and usually an official @Visit[location] account can be a great way to get your photos shared. Consider using things like #VisitLondon or #VisitMexico as a way to get your posts noticed by tourism boards.
- #IFly[Airline] - Have a particular love for your airline, or maybe you’re hoping they will love you? Replace [Airline] with whatever airline you are using (for example, #IFlyAlaska) and tag them to see what will happen.
- #Discover[location] - Another hashtag picked up by tourism boards, tags like #DiscoverHongKong can put you in front of professionals as well as other travellers
- #FourSeasons - This one is for the four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, but you could apply it to all sorts of other hotels to get your posts noticed, even #PremierInn!
- #Fly[airport code] - All airports have a 3 letter code, you can use your Instagram account to connect with them by tagging them in your posts. For example, #FlyJFK would be the hashtag to use if you were flying from John F Kennedy Airport in New York, #FlyKBP would be the hashtag to use if you were flying from the much smaller Kyiv Boryspil International Airport in Ukraine.
Top Instagram Hashtags for Lifestyle
The ‘lifestyle’ industry is quite a varied mix. It can cover anything from interior design, fashion, parenting, homemaking, even right up to travel. ‘Lifestyle bloggers’ gain in popularity because they share their lifestyle with the audience in a usually very inspirational and motivational way.
Here are 15 of our favourite lifestyle hashtags on Instagram.
Lifestyle bloggers have come under a lot of criticism recently for being quite fake, so when deciding which hashtags to use, it’s really important that you consider who else is using them too; after all, you don’t want to get tarred with the same brush as it were! Add in a few generic hashtags like the ones above, but keep it light and friendly and if your content is sponsored, make sure you clearly show that (#ad)!
Other Hashtag Topics
There are thousands of other topics that are really popular on Instagram, too many to cover in this article, but here are a few of our other favourite topics and the top five hashtags that we like to go with them:
Instagram food hashtags
Food photography is really big on Instagram, so use these 5 top food Instagram hashtags to connect with the huge food photography and food blogger community:
Hashtags for selfies
If you want to get the best out of your selfies, think about adding in some of these generic hashtags to your posts:
Top marketing hashtags
Marketing comes in many forms, but adding some of the top marketing hashtags to your images can help boost your account, especially if you’re an agency or a freelancer.
The importance of hashtags on Instagram
By now you should have a really great idea of why you should be using hashtags on your Instagram posts, they are a great way to connect with your community as well as a fantastic way to show your human and humorous side.
If you’re looking to do some automation, whether that be above board with the likes of IFTTT, or below board with an Instagram bot, hashtags will be an invaluable tool in your arsenal. You will be able to get your content out and in front of the right people and trigger the right actions across your content marketing plan.
Remember, marketing doesn’t start and end with Instagram or any other social network. It is vital that you consider your use of hashtags on Instagram, just as you would your use of categories on your blog or posting types on Facebook (see our blog on The Best Time To Post on Facebook for a thorough explanation of posting types and posting categories).
How to use Hashtags on Instagram
Now we’ve figured out exactly what a hashtag is and why it’s used, and we’ve even found a few we’d like to add to our posts, it’s time to find out how to add hashtags on Instagram posts to be the most effective.
Whether you’re going for the top trending hashtags on Instagram, or if you’ve decided to stick to really specific hashtags about your brand, adding them to your post is super easy and will be exactly the same method either way!
Step 1: Find your hashtags and add them to a note pad
For this, we’d suggest that you check the hashtag popularity of each tag you want to use, and when you’ve found the ones you like, add them to a note pad either on your phone or on your computer. Make sure you have a space between each hashtag, so it should look like this:
#hashtag1 #hashtage2 #hashtag3
Step 2: Add them To your Post
There are two places you can add hashtags to your post: in the post caption, or in the comments. Both are just as relevant as the other, and both will help your posts to show up in search.
Load up your Instagram and get your post ready to the point of adding your caption. Write your witty caption and simply paste your hashtags underneath.
Some people suggest that you should add your hashtags to the comments section to appear less spammy, but we’ve never seen a difference if it’s done this way.
Step 3: Share your post!
It’s that simple! Simply hit share, and your hashtags will be converted into clickable links under your post!
Now you can sit back and relax in the knowledge that your users will be able to find your posts using hashtags. If you do have a branded hashtag, be sure to add it in here too (we didn’t for this example, but we have on previous posts).
Is There an Instagram Hashtag Limit?
Are you wondering what the limit is for how many hashtags on Instagram posts? It’s a good thing you asked, because putting too many hashtags in can mean that all of your hashtags are deleted from your caption!
Instagram limits the number of hashtags to 30 per post, but we’d suggest using no more than 20 on average to be on the safe side. If you add more than 30 hashtags to your Instagram post, your caption won’t show up at all. You will only see the image and not your witty one-liner and 50 tags.
While attempting to add too many hashtags won’t get you put in Instagram jail, it can mark your account as a possible spam account. If you try to add 31 tags once as a mistake, you’re unlikely to see any form of serious comebacks from it, but if you’re regularly trying to over-stuff your posts with hundreds of hashtags, be prepared for Instagram to take a dim view of your tactics!
Adding hashtags to the comments section can negate this problem. You’re still limited to 30 hashtags per post (or comment in this case), but there’s nothing stopping you from adding multiple comments to the bottom of your post.
There is nothing stopping you except that you WILL begin to look very spammy if you have comment after comment with 29 hashtags in each! We’d suggest, if you are going to add hashtags to your comments instead, only do it the once.
That suggestion doesn’t include if you reply to someone else’s comment, though. If one of our audience members replies to your cute muddy dog pic with:
“aw, this gives me #thefeels”
You could legitimately reply with:
“Yeah, but he was REALLY muddy afterwards! Anyone recommend a good dog shampoo? #AskingForAFriend”
In this example, you’ve added another hashtag to your post, but it’s done in an authentic (and amusing) way so as not to be spammy.
A Warning About Hashtag Overuse
We’ve mentioned quite a lot in this article about the importance of not being seen as spammy on Instagram, but what exactly does that really mean?
Due to the popularity of Instagram (200+ million users and counting!), some accounts have really turned to some dodgy tactics to grow, either by buying followers, using Instagram pods to boost engagement, or using spammy hashtags to increase fake likes and followers.
We see this trend happening now just on Instagram, but it’s popular on YouTube too. Many smaller creators feeling shut out by YouTube’s minimum of 1000 subscribers for monetisation (equally, Instagram has a minimum of 10,000 followers to unlock tools such as swipe up landing page links).
These seemingly impossible to reach high follower and subscriber numbers had fuelled the trend in using hashtags (or in the case of YouTube, comments) to ‘boost’ your followers by promising to like and follow back anyone who does it to you.
Here are some of the spammy hashtags we would suggest NOT using on your authentic account:
- #likeforlike, #l4l, #like4like - This tag asks users to like your photo on the promise that you will go and like their most recent photo. It’s a bad idea to get involved and marks you out as inauthentic; your audience are only liking your photos so you will like theirs, not because they find your content interesting.
- #followforfollow, #f4f, #follow4follow, #followback, #instafollow - Similar to the like for like hashtags, this one encourages users to follow you, and you’ll follow them. It may build your audience temporarily, but there are plenty of users practising “follow/unfollow” techniques where they will follow a user and almost immediately unfollow them as a way to build their account.
- #FollowFriday - The Follow Friday tag was initially a great concept; users would promote one of their favourite accounts on a Friday and encourage their audience to check it out. Unfortunately, it got swamped with spam pretty quickly, ruining a good idea.
- #photooftheday - This one isn’t too bad, and of all of the ones we’ve mentioned, it’s probably not the worst. Unfortunately, it is very overused and seems to be attached to any and all photos, making it less about showcasing a particularly great photo and more about lumping it in with anything. We’d suggest avoiding this one.
- #Girl, #cool, #best, #instadaily, #lol, #instagood, #instafun - These hashtags are just overused. Most of them have no real meaning (like #instagood, for example) and don’t really say anything about your content at all. We suggest filling your hashtag area with tags that mean something to you and your brand, not these vacuous hashtags that mean nothing.
Using Instagram hashtags for followers that are designed to attract people just to follow you because of the hashtag is a bad idea. Of course, there are definitely hashtags that will get you likes, but will just mean that you have attracted an audience that really isn’t that authentic at all.
Instagram’s Banned Hashtags
Did you know that using some hashtags on Instagram could get you into trouble? This can be a real problem for brands, especially when it comes to reusing hashtags and content.
We’ve all heard stories about being “shadow banned” on Instagram, and, although Instagram vehemently denies that this exists, there are certain ways in which we have definitely seen something similar at play.
Shadow banning, as it’s known colloquially, is the act of removing a user’s content from the feeds in a way that the user doesn’t realise it is happening. You may be happily posting away, and, from your point, nothing has changed. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot will have changed. Rather than your posts showing up in other people’s feeds, it won’t show up at all. Why? Normally this is because of something you have done be that using the wrong hashtags or acting in a ’spammy’ way.
We discussed the use of bots earlier, and this is definitely a way that users can get their accounts restricted. If Instagram’s AI detects that your account has had a sudden spike in activity (such as suddenly doing many interactions in an hour) or if you have started using spammy hashtags, this can result in your account being restricted.
Although Instagram doesn’t call this act shadow banning, it does admit that their algorithm works to show good content to their users. If your content is flagged as not good content, it simply wont be shown to as many users. While this isn’t ‘shadow banning’ in the sense that many users understand it, it does certainly sound like a type of content restriction.
What Hashtags Will Get Me Shadow Banned?
There isn’t a definitive list of hashtags that WILL get your account restricted, but, certainly, the hashtags on our list of spammy tags above are a good list to start with!
Instagram is quite clear in their communications, they want each user to make their content individual to them, but in reality, this isn’t all that easy! It’s inevitable that sometimes your content will look like other people’s content, and really that can’t always be helped. It is, however, all in the art of how you display your content that will make a difference to how well it was done.
If your account is constantly using the same hashtags over and over, especially if they’re unrelated to the content that you’re posting, this could get flagged as inappropriate.
Now, the caveat to that is that this doesn’t happen all the time. If you are specifically a black and white photographer who specialisises in brutalist architecture, using hashtags such as #blackandwhite and #brutalism may actually make sense for nearly every photo you post, but do you really need to add those to EVERY post? Say you decided to switch things up a bit and post a photo of an Art Deco building for a change, this content wouldn’t warrant the hashtag #brutalism, but it could possibly warrant the #blackandwhite hashtag.
The bottom line on this one: think carefully about which hashtags are actually relevant to the content you are posting. Not just your overall content, but the specific creative that you’re working on. If it’s a photo of you laying in a hammock with a martini, then use #chill, but probably best to stay away from #bakingcakes or something else completely irrelevant!
Is there definitive a list of banned hashtags?
There are a few hashtags that, although seemingly innocent, are not showing up in the search bar for Instagram right now. There are many reasons for this, but most of the time, Instagram has taken the decision not to show certain hashtags because they have been misused and associated with a lot of spam in the past.
These hashtags, although they won’t show up in search, won’t automatically get your specific account shadow banned, but if you use them constantly, you will definitely increase your risk of being banned.
The Preview App released a list of hashtags they found were banned back in 2018; these are still on the list we’d suggest avoiding today, and remember these may seem really innocent, but, as the famous phrase goes, it’s not you it’s them!
Here’s the list from The Preview App:
My Account Has Been Shadow Banned - What Do I Do?
Has your reach and impressions suddenly dropped off a cliff? It could be that your account is in sanctions, and not showing up in the search because you’ve been flagged as potentially spammy.
There are a few reasons this could happen, and identifying the reasons is the best way to get it back in good standing. So ask yourself these questions:
- Have I been using a bot or other automation?
- Have I been posting the same hashtags on every photo?
- Have I been using lots of hashtags from the banned list repeatedly?
- Have I been spammy with my likes or comments?
- Is my content, and are my actions, representative of my brand?
If you answer yes to any of the first 4 questions, there’s a good chance this is the reason your account has been flagged as potentially spammy. Turn the bot off for a while, mix up your hashtags and content posting, and be genuine and authentic with your likes and comments. It might take a while, but showing Instagram that you are a real person behind the account is the best way to get back into their good books.
Number 5 is a little more difficult. Some brands actively encourage people to be all over social media, especially the cult-like MLM community, who will relentlessly post and message people until they get blocked from sending any more messages. This is an absolute scourge on social media, and Instagram is working hard to stop this kind of thing going on, but it still does.
If your account seems to have been shadow banned, have a look through your recent content and interactions. Are they representative of you and your brand, or were they done to try to increase likes/follows/interactions? If they were, stop doing this. Be authentic, your followers and Instagram will be pleased, and hopefully, you will be able to build back your credibility.
How Can My Business Utilise Hashtags?
Hashtags and business go together like bread and butter, but only if you commit to using the right hashtags, at the right time, and in the right way! That doesn’t mean not using very popular hashtags, but if you’re looking to really make some waves with your content, we’d suggest going for some specific hashtags and branded tags to help your content be found.
The basic rules for hashtags when it comes to business use is KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). We think it’s a really good idea to develop your own business hashtag to use on your posts, make this something really unique to you but make it simple too.
Here’s an example: You are a makeup artist specialising in bridal makeup based in Brixton, and your business name is ‘Kayla Pierce Professional Bridal Makeup Artist.’ It’s quite a long name, but your business is successful. For this, we would suggest a simple hashtag to add to your posts. Simple means short! Something like #KPBridalMakeup or #KPMakeup, or even slightly longer #KaylaPierceMakeup. We wouldn’t suggest going any longer than this. The last thing you want is to try to get your clients to remember #KaylaPierceProfessionalBridalMakeupArtistInBrixton. It’s far too long!
Creating a specific business hashtag is useful and helps your clients advertise for you, but another way businesses can utilise the humble hashtag is to join in conversations. This can apply more to Twitter, where joining in conversations happens in more of a live setting. However, there are many ways that businesses can get involved in the conversation on Instagram too.
Competitions are a great way of getting involved with hashtags, getting your users to post with specific hashtags, and picking a winner, but more national hashtags can be a great way to get involved with initiatives.
Something like #Springwatch[year] is a great example here, Springwatch is a nature program shown every year in the UK on the BBC, the program encourages members of the public to get involved by using the hashtag (this year is #Springwatch2020) and share their photos of spring. Businesses can really jump on this by joining in the spring photos and also promoting their spring and nature-related content, blogs, videos, courses, etc. It’s a great way to stay relevant and stay authentic online.
Using Hashtags in Your Bio and On Stories
Hashtags can be a great thing to add to your marketing toolkit, and Instagram allows the use of hashtags in both your bio (we’d suggest using your branded one, and one only) and on Instagram Stories.
Both on posts and stories, Instagram provides insights on how these hashtags have performed, as well as how many people found your content via hashtags. While there isn’t currently a way to definitively see the results from hashtags in bios, with the ability to see insights on posts and stories, it’s a really good option to add to the marketing mix, and definitely a metric worth tracking and reporting on when it comes to trends.
Hashtags and Politics
Another topic we suggest very strongly to say away from on your brand’s social media is politics. Politics can become a very divisive and very toxic arena, especially on social media, with many people having very strong views either side and others feeling like they have the right to be abusive just because they are behind a screen.
If your account is heavily affiliated with a particular political stance, and it’s something you use in your marketing, then, by all means, use political hashtags in your posts and promote yourself as having a political stance, but if it’s not, we’d urge very strong caution as to whether or not you use popular political hashtags on your posts.
We’ve seen a huge rise in divisive politics over the last few years, from the election of President Trump in 2016, the UK’s Brexit and General elections a few years later, and the rise of the radical left and radical right figures using social media as their platforms.
There have been many brands who have found themselves falling foul of judging their audience’s opinions wrong and being accused of jumping on the bandwagon to support ‘trendy’ politicised topics.
Very simply put: if in doubt, don’t do politics!
It’s not just politics either; this statement could quite easily apply to any immutable characteristic such as gender, sex, sexual preference, race, religion, class, etc. If it’s not something to do with your brand, we’d suggest staying well clear.
If you haven’t got a business account, but you’re looking to grow your own personal account, consider how getting involved in contentious hashtags about the above could be seen by your potential followers and your employer or potential employers. While we’d love to say that social media is a place where everyone should be able to share their views without fear of being reprimanded for them, it is unfortunately not true in the real world.
Building Your Instagram Audience
When you’re building an Instagram audience, you need to be mindful of how you want that audience to work for you. That’s right; you need to think of your audience not just as your fans but as your customers.
There are plenty of reasons to have a personal Instagram account, but for business accounts and brand accounts, you need to think of your audience in the value that they bring and the value of them in monetary terms for you and your brand.
We touched on audience value in our blog about the Best Times To Post On Instagram, and how you should separate out your Instagram (and other social media followers) into categories of value.
In brief, your followers will generally fall into two categories: those who are your advocates (but don’t buy anything), and those who buy things. Now, you will, of course, have the followers who will just be negative and grumble, but that’s what the block and delete button is for!
You will need to do some experimenting and, just like we suggested with the best times to post, see which hashtags -if any- make a difference to your posts. If you notice that every time you post a photo with the hashtag #diamondring you get a few extra clicks through to your jewellery page, then it might be a good idea to continue using that hashtag for posts that are relevant to that hashtag (and we do mean relevant, don’t go adding it to pictures of necklaces!).
Equally, you may notice that your jewellery posts with the hashtag #prettysparkles get lots more engagement than posts without it, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into clicks to your website or your shop. That’s ok, not every post will be designed to be promotional or get website clicks, but if your posts that ARE designed to get clicks are not getting any more than those posts that aren’t, it’s time to start switching up your content.
How To Find The Best Hashtags For My Brand
There are hundreds of websites that will show you the “best” Instagram hashtags, some are really good, and some are really spammy.
We’d suggest trying a few different ones and go with those that feel right, maybe make a list of 10 generic hashtags that sound like a good fit and 50 more specific hashtags that you can pick and choose from depending on your content.
Once you’ve picked the hashtags, you like the sound of, it’s time to get analysing.
The most simple way to do this is to set a benchmark time for each post. Load up a spreadsheet and keep a track of your posts, you’ll want to know:
- When it was posted (time and day)
- What was the purpose (promotional, brand warmth, etc.)
- How many likes
- How many comments
- How many follows and website clicks you got in the period following your post that you selected (we’d suggest 24 hours)
Your spreadsheet should look something like this:
Using the above example, we can see that the promotional product image post that posted on Thursday at 21:24 was a huge success for website clicks, but the image of the staff on Thursday at 9:03 am was a great success for likes and comments. Both are really valid statistics, and we can use this information to inform us about future posts.
Track your posts for as long as you can, and every time you notice a post that has done particularly well, pull it out onto another sheet and mark down the hashtags used. After a while, you’ll be able to build up a picture of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to hashtags, and what your different audience values prefer.
Do you feel like you’ve become a bit of a hashtag expert by now? We really hope you do!
Using hashtags on Instagram is such a fantastic way to connect with your audience, get involved in trending topics, and become more involved with your community, as well as a great method to drive sales and trigger actions further afield.
Using the most popular hashtags on Instagram isn’t always the best idea for your brand, sometimes it’s about searching for the best hashtags for Instagram that suit your brand more specifically, and the post that you want to put out for your audience.
You may download many an Instagram hashtags cheat sheet in the hope that using popular hashtags will be the only thing needed to boost your visibility, but the hard fact of the matter is that Instagram isn’t a place that rewards spammy practices and using or overusing bad hashtags is bad for business and bad for your brand.
Hashtags are a fantastic connection tool, there have been some many good news stories where hashtags were used across social networks to connect people, either for good causes, or connect them in times of desperate need.
Get your hashtag game on; you won’t regret it!