INSTAGRAM HASHTAG SELECTION

Instagram hashtag selection formula

INSTAGRAM HASHTAG SELECTION

When you are deciding what hashtag selection to use on an Instagram post you should develop a strategy that uses the optimum hashtags for that post. Using a combination of hashtags of different popularity will help maximise your exposure. If you use too many popular hashtags, you risk your post being lost in a tidal wave of posts. Use hashtags that are too niche and you risk your post never being seen!

I recommend that you add ONLY two or three “generic” (popular) hashtags, then about 10 – 15 niche ones and 10 – 15 regional / hubs. You can add up to 30 hashtags. I usually use between 25-28 on my photography posts – less on posts on here.

You an discover more about picking the right type of hashtags in my previous post.

As an example for an astro photo post taken in Cornwall:

[Generic x3]

#Astro #stars #nightsky

[Niche x12]

#milkywaychaser #milkywaypics
#nightphotography_exclusive #ig_shutternights
#loves_night #pocket_nights #addicted_to_night
#gf_afterdark #super_night_channel #igworldclub_astrophotography #fantastic_universe #nightshooterz

[Regional x12]

#exploreCornwall #love_cornwall #lovecornwall #walkingcornwall #amazingcornwall #swisbest #bestukpics #excellent_britain #brilliantbritain #uk_greatshots #ig_united_kingdom #loves_britain

If you have built up a catalogue of hashtags in a notes file on your phone, then this means you always have a wide variation of hashtags to fall back on. The broader the variation of hashtags you use – the more opportunity you have of reaching different audiences. Just make sure that the hashtags you use are relevant to the content you are posting.

Instagram Engagement | Tips for optimising your content | Hashtags

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

Hashtags - instagram 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.

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram sunset hashtag

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!

Niche

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).

Location

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

Brands

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

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram sunset hashtag – 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:

https://thepreviewapp.com/list-of-banned-instagram-hashtags-2018/

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:

 

 

 

 

Top tips for getting Instagram hub features

Top tips for getting Instagram hub features

I am a moderater for two Instagram hubs and I frequently get my @kistography photos featured, so I thought I’d put together some top tips to help you optimise your posts for getting an Instagram feature.

1) HASHTAGS

This one is kind of obvious, but make sure you’re using the right hashtag. Some hubs such as @gramoftheday and @jjcommunity change their hashtag daily. More advice on Instagram feature hubs can be found here.

2) KNOW THE HUB

Make yourself familiar with the Instagram hubs & work out what style it tends to feature. Do your photos fit that style?

3) LANDMARKS/ICONS

For many of the area/location specific hubs, in order to get featured your image will need to clearly represent that area. E.g. When I am looking for photos to feature on @loveforsomerset, I look for photos that clearly represent Somerset in some way (landmark buildings, street scenes, National parks etc).

4) FORMAT

I was late on the uptake with this one, but hubs on Instagram tend to prefer to feature portrait orientation photos because they look better for the aesthetics on instagram.

5) BE DIFFERENT

If you’re photographing a popular location or scene, you’re more likely to be featured if you add something different to the 100’s of other photos like it.
As an example Durdle Door is much photographed – it’s hard to find new perspectives/compositions that haven’t already been done 100s of times. Try adding props, human interest, visit it at different seasons (some awesome shots of it in the snow got features) and don’t forget the post processing can add a different take on things.

5) GUIDELINES

Check the instructions on the hubs page. Many just require you to use their hashtag, whereas some require to @ tag them on your photo or others might want you to DM/email the photo. Some have time restrictions of when they select content. Some hubs close down for holidays. Read the instructions on the hub page.

6) RELEVANCE

Kind of obvious- Make sure the hubs you are tagging are relevant to your content!.

7) CELEBRATE

If you get featured by a hub it is polite to thank them. I usually do this via my stories but some people like to celebrate via their feed.

8) FRAMES & BORDERS

Avoid adding frames, borders or large copyright marks to your image as this can put off hubs from featuring pics.

9) LOCATION/GEOTAG

Particularly for hubs that are location specific, make sure you include the location in the caption or add the geotag. Frequently a great photo is tagged to a location specific hub, but the location is missing from the post so it can’t be shared, without knowing where it was taken.

Instagram Algorithm Explained – R.E.S.T.A.R.T

How to make sense of the Instagram Algorithm

 

So, what is the Instagram algorithm? Instagram originally started off as a simple ‘reverse-chronological’ feed where you would see the most recent posts of the people you followed first. In March 2016 Instagram Switched to an Algorithm. Instagram now uses an algorithm which figures out what content will interest you and this is the content you will see first.

Instagram mentions the following factors as influencing the algorithm:

  • “the likeliness you’ll be interested in the content,”
  • “your relationship with the person posting”
  • “the timeliness of the post.”.

The introduction of the algorithm means that content creators have to work a bit harder to get their work seen and to get engagement. It also means it’s necessary to have a bit more consideration about what, when and how to post. However, Instagram is a fast growing platform with it expected to top 1 Billion monthly users by Jan 2018, which allows a vast audience to tap into if you can get your strategy right.

The Instagram algorithm is somewhat of a mystery, so it’s only possible to make assumptions and guesses about how it works, based on the information they release and also from user experience. There’s no magic formula I can offer, but in order to frame the different elements that are thought to influence the Instagram algorithm, I have created the acronym – R.E.S.T.A.R.T. which I will explain in more detail.

[R]elationship
[E]ngagement
[S]hares & Saves
[T]imeliness
[A]ctivity
[R]elevancy
[T]ime spent

 

RELATIONSHIP

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - RELATIONSHIPInstagram is a ‘Social Media’….So not surprisingly ‘Relationship’ relates to the accounts you regularly interact with on Instagram.

Instagram commented:

“And no matter how many accounts you follow, you should see your best friend’s latest posts”.

How does Instagram know who are your “best friends”?!
Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram suggests the following ways may determine your best friends:

  • Accounts whose content you like regularly(which includes stories & live videos)
  • Users who you direct message
  • Instagram accounts that you have searched for
  • Anyone you know in real life

It can be assumed that the more of these elements you use with an account (i.e. if you regularly search an account, then like, comment and share their posts), then the higher they will appear on your feed as they will be considered ‘best friends’.

ENGAGEMENT

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - ENGAGEMENTA post with more engagement is likely to feature higher. It is also believed that early engagement is particularly important, because a flurry of initial activity indicates to the Instagram algorithm that a post is worth bumping to the top of other users’ feed, which leads to even more engagement. Instagram considers engagement to be likes, comments, video views, shares (via direct message), saves, story views, and live video views.

Figure out the best time to post on Instagram for your account. You can use Instagram insights to give you an idea of when your audience is online. .

Post consistently engaging visuals paired with compelling captions that encourage followers to interact with your posts. Put the most important words up front in you caption, to draw followers in and encourage them to keep reading.

SAVES & SHARES

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - SAVES & SHARESIn regards to the Instagram Algorithm, direct shares and saves are another signal that you’re interested in an account. Also who you share the content with suggests to the algorithm that you have a relationship with that individual and this could rank them higher in your feed.

The other element is posts that are saved. If a post is saved it will suggest that it’s relevant content for you.

To use the algorithm to your advantage in this respect, create content that others want to save to come back to or posts that people will want to share with others such as:
* Tutorials .
* Facts .
* Hints and Tips .
* Instructionals .
* How To’s .
* Guides .
* Reviews.

TIMELINESS

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - TIMELINESSInstagram themselves have commented:

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

This means that Instagram considers more recent posts, to be more relevant to you. This suggests that a post that is more recent will feature higher in your feed, than an older post with higher engagement.

With this in mind, you should make sure that you are posting fresh content regularly. Also ensure that you post when your followers are most active to hit the prime window of engagement. In addition, it would be beneficial to be active around the time that you post. So you should be available to like, comment around the hashtags/geotags you have used and also respond to comments on your post. The first hour is thought to be key.

ACTIVITY

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - ACTIVITYThis part of the algorithm relates to your activity around the accounts that you search for often.

An Instagram spokesperson commented to Business Insider that if you frequently search Instagram for a certain account, that indicates that your interested in that person or company. Their posts are then likely to appear higher in your feed.

It’s tricky to offer any advice for how to work this part of the algorithm to promote your own page in people’s feed. The only way I think you could get people to ‘search’ for your page is by using other social media channels and tell people to find you by searching. This maybe a slightly cumbersome way to go about it though when you could just directly link!!

RELEVANCY

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - RELEVANCYInstagram have said:

”The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

The Instagram algorithm uses your behaviours, such as follows, likes, comments, saves and shares to recognise what content you enjoy viewing to influence the relevancy factor. It is even proposed that Instagram uses photo recognition technology so that it can tell the type of images you are viewing.

In order to make the algorithm work for you consider the hashtags, content, images and accounts you follow as this will impact on what you see in your feed. You should ensure that you are genuine and authentic in your actions on Instagram, because your feed will reflect your behaviour.
Make sure that you engage and build relationships with accounts similar to yours – and “people like you”.

TIME SPENT

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - TIME SPENTThis is how long someone spends looking at and viewing your images, story or feed – or vice versa, how long you spend looking at someone’s images, story or feed.

The longer spent looking at the image, feed or story – the algorithm will assume you like it more and will bump that up your feed. That content will then become more relevant.

So when you’re creating content for your feed, you should be considering ways to get people to ‘linger’ on your post, story or feed. This could be in the caption you use (including engaging and interesting text), by encouraging your audience to visit other images on your feed or by adding an element to your image that means people have to view it for longer.

A good example of making an enticing image is @humannurture who cleverly conceals HN in their image for the audience to find.


Understanding the algorithm allows you to be able to ‘hack’ the algorithm to make sure that your content is shown to as many people as possible – enable increased reach and hopefully more engagement.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be empathic, authentic and genuine in your content and your approach – Respond and react to your audience and your organic growth and engagement will happen.

The algorithm is constantly evolving, changing and updating so no doubt I will have new information to feedback on this soon.

 

Add value to your instagram posts

Add value to your posts

Have you considered adding value to your posts?! By this I mean add something to your post that leaves the audience feeling you’ve gifted them with something and given them something for free. Now in my case, on my @kistography account I offer the “free gift” of information. First of all I ran a series of tips across 25 posts. Now I’m spotlighting some of my favourite Instagrammers. Other suggestions could be app recommendations, location guidance, facts about a place or simply a behind the scenes of how you took the shot.

KISTOGRAM INSTAGRAM SURGERY – ISSUE 1

[KISTOGRAM INSTAGRAM SURGERY – ISSUE 1]

So this question was sent to me by numerous people… “How do I get more followers?”, so I have chosen to make it my first Instagram Surgery session. This is the first of a number of posts where I will provide strategies to increase your following.
.

There is no one single way to increase your followers (legitimately and authentically). This is actually the prime reason I decided to write my eBook, because it comes down to a combination of a lot of factors and strategies. I will cover a number of ways in my next few posts. However, probably the main one is….BECOME A SERIAL LIKER!

I spend a LOT of time browsing Instagram and liking photos and would say it is the main contributor in the growth of my account. LIKE! LIKE! LIKE! 
The photos I like will be ones that genuinely interest me and that I do sincerely like. They will be photos that I believe suit my style, interest or niche, or perhaps are an area of photography that inspires me (such as astrophotography…which I am still yet to try) or just an image that appeals to me on whatever level. When you do like photos make sure that you are authentic with the likes you give out and avoid spamming accounts for the sake of it. Don’t like for likes sake, as you will just irritate people. I frequently get lost (virtually) wandering around Instagram liking photos…for HOURS! .

HASHTAGS: HUBS, COMMUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

[HASHTAGS: HUBS, COMMUNITIES AND CHALLENGES]

If you want inspiration or more exposure for your photos on Instagram and to increase engagement with your feed, then hubs/communities or challenge feeds are a great way to achieve this.

’Hubs’ or ‘feature 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, fashion or landscapes. Do your research and discover hubs that fit your style or aesthetics.

Here’s some example accounts for you to explore:

@jjcommunity – posts daily hashtag contests
@gramoftheday – Theme of the day
@visitbritain @bestukpics@explore_britain @uk_shooters (UK region specific)
@ic_landscapes @tv_landscapes@loves_landscape (genre specific)
@jaw_dropping_shots @igpowerclub@primeshots (general photography)

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[Happy Hashtagging]!
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LET’S TALK HASHTAGS

[LET’S TALK HASHTAGS]
Are you hashtag savvy?!
Love them or loathe them, they’re an important factor in growing your Instagram account and getting exposure for your posts.
Posts with at least one hashtag get at least 12.6 percent more engagement and TrackMaven found that posts with 11+ hashtags get the maximum engagement.

How many hashtags do you use?!