Contrary to what many think, the most important factor on Instagram, is not the volume of followers you have but the level of engagement you have on your posts. Increasing engagement should be your primary focus. The more engagement you get on your posts, then the bigger impact this will have on the algorithm (which will determine the exposure you get for your content). An important part of this is developing a workflow and strategy If you have a plan.
In this post I am going to talk about how using a hashtag strategy can help you to optimise your engagement.
Hashtags for increased engagement
Instagram is all about the hashtag, more than any of the other social media platforms. Using hashtags is one of the key factors to your content being discovered.
There are various opinions on how many hashtags you should use on a post. The most you can use is 30 – so it makes sense that you use all 30. Research has shown that posts with more than 11 hashtags perform best. There have been talks of using too many can compromise a posts performances…but if this was the case, surely Instagram wouldn’t let you use 30! If you use 30 hashtags – that’s 30 streams you can tap into. I believe the main reason social media commentators suggest not to use 30 is because aesthetically they don’t look great in a caption and seem a bit ‘spammy’. I overcome this by spacing them down at the bottom of my caption.
It doesn’t matter where you put the hashtags – caption or comments. I put them into my caption because it means I can edit them. If you put them in your comments, you only have the option to delete them.
Should I be using the most popular hashtags?
#instagood, #love, #photo, #summer, #nofilter.
Ideally you should be strategic about your hashtags. The hashtags you use should reflect your brand, your content and the audience you are trying to reach and should be considered – rather than just thrown in on a whim. This means that you are going to need to do some planning and research.
There are few different types of hashtags you can use:
Generic / Keyword / Popular
There are certain hashtags which are significantly more popular than others (such as #sunset). It may seem logical to use the more popular hashtags…because… they’re more popular. Actually, the opposite is true. Since such a vast number of instagrammers include these tags with their posts, it means that the posts end up immersed deep within the hashtag feed of photos in a matter of seconds. Another good reason to avoid using the popular hashtags is because the seem to attract spam and bot accounts! Having said that, you could include two or three of these hashtags in your post because they are popular, there will actually be a lot of people watching them. They are likely to help generate likes and comments.
Product / Industry / Service
Product or industry hashtags are used by professionals and brands and are related to the industry they are in. Consider which users you are targeting and the industry that relates to your account, then choose tags related to that!
These more specific hashtags, tend to target more engaged users, but usually have a smaller reach. It helps because you’re fishing from a smaller pond of views. Again, use only a couple of these on your posts.
The smaller the number of posts to a hashtag:
- Less competition for your post
- An increased chance of being featured in the Top 9 posts
- The more likely your post will be seen in that hashtag feed.
BUT! Also the less people actually look at these hashtags.
Community / Hubs
If you want inspiration or more exposure for your post and to increase engagement with your feed, hubs are a great way to achieve this. ’Hubs’ or ‘community accounts’ are large accounts that will feature a selection of photos throughout the day, in return for you using their corresponding hashtag.
There are countless hubs on Instagram, which cover a broad spectrum of styles such as sunsets, nature, wildlife, portraits, beauty, fashion or locations. A lot of the hubs have a massive follower base between 20k – 100k+. This means that if your photo is chosen to be featured it can receive a lot of exposure (to any individual that follows that hub).
If you’re a local business then it makes sense to use location-based hashtags in order to connect with your community. Using location hashtags will help put you on the radar for your area.
There tend to be some standard format for hashtags for locations such as #igersLondon #igersBirmingham, #LondonBlogger #BirminghamBlogger, #LondonPhotographer #BirminghamPhotographer
Many businesses and brands on Instagram also use their own hashtags and they often feature other Instagrammers. Canon is an example. They have several region specific pages such as @CanonUK or @CanonUSA. If you use a particular brand – or a brand features in your image it is definitely worth tagging them in it.
Brands also create specific hashtags for campaigns, so it’s important to check regularly to see if there are current ones to be using.
Hashtags in Instagram Stories
Don’t forget about the option to add a hashtag to your instagram stories too. This is a great way to get engagement as your post will feature in the stories feed for that hashtag (as shown at the top of the image to the left).
You can place the hashtag in a sticker for or within the text. Follow the principles above when you decide which hashtag to choose.
Avoid banned hashtags. You can find a list of banned hashtags here:
Don’t just post hashtags…Interact and engage with people in the hashtags you are using.
There you go – my tips on making the most of your hashtags for Instagram engagement. Still hungry to learn more? Check out my other posts: