Instagram is still my favourite social media platform out there. Yes, despite algorithms, despite the constant changes, and the slow in growth... I still love it! Nothing beats the sense of community on Instagram, and I am constantly coming across more amazing creatives, and always making new friends.
But enough gushing about how cool Instagram is... let's talk Hashtags!
What is a Hashtag?
If you're totally new to the social media game, hashtags may seem really confusing. However, if you're serious about using social media for your business, then you need to know how and why to use them!
On Instagram (and Twitter, and now Pinterest too!) a # hashtag turns any word into a searchable keyword. This means that you can use hashtag keywords within your social media posts to make them discoverable. For example, if you wanted to be included in the searches for "UK Business Owner" you would use the hashtag #UKbusinessowner (or something along those lines). You can also click on any hashtag you use, or see, and see what other content is being shared by other people in that niche! Clever, right?
How Should You Use Hashtags?
Because hashtags make what you post searchable, you want to think about who might be looking for your content on Instagram. As with everything, you always want to be taking into consideration your target market, but also what is in the image you're sharing. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post on Instagram, and I encourage you to use them all up to be sure your maximising your exposure.
Let's use this image as an example:
This is an image I shared a couple of days ago on my Instagram account. It was taken a few months ago in Santorini, making it a travel shot. It also features the sea. However, if you read the caption, I talk about getting back to work, the new year, and general life as a creative entrepreneur. So instead of just posting #sea, #santorini like might seem obvious, I also am careful to include hashtag's relevant to work as a freelancer, like #cornishcreatives, or #freelance. (Most of my hashtags are in the comment section, which is why you can't see them here... more on that later!).
How To Know What Hashtags To Post?
There are many ways of coming up with hashtags you can use. Some are very obvious search terms (ie. #photographer), however if you spend some time on Instagram, you'll probably notice that there are plenty of more niche hashtags, like #thatsdarling or #thewildnesstonic.
Some hashtags have enormous followings, and are used very heavily, whereas others are much more niche, and used only by a small group of people. For example, #thatsdarling is a very popular hashtag, and I type this, it currently has over 14 million images under it... thats a lot! However, #thewildnesstonic only has 10,000, making it much smaller.
There are advantages to both popular, and niche hashtags. A popular one means that your image will have a higher chance of being seen by lots and lots of people. However, it also means that a lot of people are using it.
An important thing to note about hashtags is that on Instagram, they are displayed in chronological order. That means that once you post an image, and someone else posts an image with the same hashtag, your image will get pushed further down.
This is where the less attractive side to popular hashtags come in: your image will be visible for a far shorter amount of time, because it will get pushed down quickly by other people also using that tag.
So, with niche hashtags, the reverse is true. You are exposing your image to fewer people, however it will live at the top of the feed for far longer, because fewer people share to it. That means that even a few days after you've posted your image under a niche hashtag, you will most likely still be getting traction from it.
So how on earth do you know which hashtags to use?!
Well, there's a rule I like to follow. I like to use half very big, popular hashtags, and half smaller, more niche ones. This gives quite a nice, balanced exposure to your content!
Where Can You Find Hashtags To Use?
There are a few ways you can find hashtags to use for your posts.
1. Use Instagram's Relevant Tags option: If you type any hashtag into Instagram's search bar, and then click on it, at the top of the screen you'll see a section called "Related." These are hashtags which Instagram believe to be in a similar niche to what you've typed in. Take a look through, and save any relevant ones to use for later!
Use Display Purposes: This is a website I only recently discovered, but it's great! Type in any hashtag you like, and it will find you 30 more relevant ones. Super easy to use, and quick. https://displaypurposes.com/
Search in Google: There are loads of articles written now with literally just hundreds of hashtag suggestions. Do some Googling until you find the perfect ones for you!
Look at other people in your niche: Take a look at the hashtag's that your competitors, or people in a similar niche to you, are using. Make note of any good ones for future reference.
Extra Hashtag tips:
1. Put your hashtags in your comment section: I do this (most of the time) just to keep my captions looking neat and tidy! I think that hashtags can sometimes look a bit messy and distracting if they're in the comment section. Don't worry, this doesn't affect your visibility or have any effect on the algorithm at all.
2. Keep your favourite hashtags in your Notes app: All smartphones have some kind of "Notes" app. I recommend making little groups of hashtags that you know are great for your niches, so that when you come to post, you're all ready to go. No need to spend ages typing out hashtags one at at time.
I hope that this has been helpful, and if you have any more hashtag questions, please don't hesitate to pop them in the comment section below and I'll get back to you! :)