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Twitter may have developed social media hashtags, but Instagram put them on the map. These days, Instagram hashtags not only categorize your content and makes it discoverable by users, but has become an fruitful way to get more followers, increase engagement, improve reach and brand awareness.
As a tech-savvy virtual assistant, I have seen a lot of interesting strategies to grow Instagram accounts. The one that is often the most overlooked, simplistic yet effective, time tested strategy there is – Hashtags.
Hashtags will never disappoint you, Instagram lover. Hashtag strategies stand the test of time because as long as you educate yourself on how to implement said strategy, unlike its sister strategies: like-for-like, pods, follow for follow-hashtags are algorithm proof. So, when your friends are losing their minds because their engagement has gone down, you’ll be laughing in the sun!
1. Why you should be on Instagram?
According to Statistica, there are currently more than one billion active users on Instagram, it is one of the most popular social networks worldwide. Due to Instagram’s emphasis on visual content, and high engagement compared to other popular platforms, Instagram has become a very alluring Social Media Marketing Tool.
2. Let’s understand why Hashtags work, first
Hashtags on Instagram are a completely different game from any other platform. On Instagram, it literally makes you discoverable. So, have a self-audit and check in with yourself right now – are you unsatisfied with your Instagram game? – if so, are you really using Hashtags to their full potential? Most people aren’t and don’t even know it.
Recommended: 7 Hacks You Should Know About Instagram These Days
There’s this story or school of thought that Instagram only works for influencers, bloggers, fashion designers or things that ‘look pretty.’ But the truth is, when the algorithm of every other platform is always morphing and you don’t know which way the pendulum is going to swing, more and more people are showing up on Instagram due to many factors, but mostly it’s appealing visual nature.
According to Orbital Media, Hashtags have been around since 2007 when Chris Messina tweeted the idea – yes, someone created the hashtag! And if you ask me, hashtags aren’t going anywhere or decreasing in functionality anytime soon. If you can curate targeted hashtags for your ideal clients and customers, you can use Instagram for your business growth, and close some sales! Let’s have a look at how to do that!
3. Hashtag Strategy –Know Your Niche
The thing to know before you embark on your hashtag strategy – what is your niche? Who is your ideal client? If you have no idea, the efforts here are wasted. Remember, hashtags are what makes you discoverable and relevant! Ask yourself these questions:
- What is my ideal client/customer looking for?
- What hashtags and accounts are they following on Instagram?
- Do the hashtags I have chosen have anything to do with the photo I am posting?
- Would my ideal client or customer be attracted to what I am posting right now?
For example, if you have a Social Media Scheduler as your product, but your hashtags are #selfloveforever and #dogsoninstagram are you really speaking to what your ideal clients are looking at on Instagram? Chances are your clients are looking for education on social media trends!
4. Using Hashtags on Instagram
Let’s get to the meat of this, shall we? Hashtags can be very effective on Instagram. Personally, I have gotten my Virtual Assistant clients thousands of views per post just by knowing how Instagram and hashtags actually work and doing a little bit of ideal client research. The image below is a screenshot I pulled from a client account I managed, just hours after posting.
Notice the breakdown of how people found the post - from hashtags is over 3,000 unique accounts from a single post. That is why Hashtag Strategy on Instagram is far superior from any other Instagram strategy. It is targeted, intentional and continual growth.
5. Not all Hashtags are created equal
It’s true, not all hashtags are created equal. Instagram users often think that using hashtags that match their daily language are the best to use because they will attract ideal customers by being themselves. But the truth is, there is some logic (and numbers) into carefully choosing hashtags for your strategy.
The trick is for growth using hashtags is to choose quality hashtags. What makes a hashtag quality? It goes without saying that that hashtag is relevant to your niche, but beyond that, you want to use hashtags that have at least 10,000 posts already under that hashtag but no more than 500,000 posts under that hashtag.
The reasoning for this is, if you use a hashtag that has under 10,000 post uses, not enough people will see your post to really make it worthwhile. If you use more than 500,000 then you will become lost in the Instagram feed and not enough people will see your content!
Once hashtag reaches 500,000 post uses, you ought to ‘retire’ this hashtag. Take it off your hashtag list.
Don’t worry, if you really liked that hashtag you had to retire, there is probably a hashtag with slightly different spelling, plump for your hashtag picking.
It isn’t about using hashtags as a space filler, it is about using hashtags that are quality in nature and your ideal clients are looking at.
Furthermore, I see many people throwing about 5 hashtags on a post and hoping they are going to have some magical engagement explosion.
If you are serious are upping your hashtag game, you need to use all 30 hashtags per post, and don’t be scared to throw in a hashtag in your Instagram story, this will massively boost your viewership.
To laser focus your results even further, choose 10 hashtags that are ‘core hashtags’ that center around your ideal clients – such as some of the solopreneur or freedompreneur hashtags, think of these as identity clarification, you can use these same 10 for an entire week.
The rest of the 20 are categories that change, things your ideal clients are looking at on Instagram, but do not necessarily pinpoint a demographic, such as the law of attraction or rise and grind type hashtags. These 20 should change every day. Think of these as your client interests.
You want to make sure that you change up the hashtags you use about every week. If you continually use the same hashtags, Instagram will shadow ban your account. Meaning, none of your posts will show up on any searches, etc and obviously, you will notice a huge decrease in engagement.
If you do not change up the hashtags that you use and continue to use the same ones, Instagram will shadow ban your account. Which means you can post but you won’t actually show up in anyone’s searches. You essentially aren’t discoverable.
6. Don’t Get a Case of the Mondays
Now that you know how to use hashtags, you can get started right? Here’s the thing – some serious planning can go a long way here. Searching for the right hashtags can take some time – and you don’t want to start Monday morning trying to pull 30 hashtags out of thin air for your Instagram post. What I recommend instead is creating hashtag lists – about 5, one for every day of the week.
You can be lazy and google best hashtags for (insert your business here) but the truth is, unless someone is doing customized hashtag research for you, specific to your niche, you aren’t getting targeted results.
You want to make sure that you change up the hashtags you use about every week. If you continually use the same hashtags, Instagram will shadow ban your account. Meaning, none of your posts will show up on any searches,etc and obviously, you will notice a huge decrease in engagement.
7. Crafting Your Post
Social buddy reports that for the best results, you should post on Instagram 1-3 times per day. Personally, I would aim for three times per day to hit different time zones and traffic times. As a marketer, this can be tricky because you have so many other things going on.
This is why I recommend using a social media scheduler like Postfity to schedule your posts in advance. While there are a plethora of awesome schedulers out there, Postifty will push notification your Instagram post to the app.
Most people think auto posting is better, however, this is actually good for you – and good for engagement because it serves as a little reminder to post and actually engage on a few things in your feed as you do with genuine comments and your reach will see major improvements.
Furthermore, this is the perfect opportunity to add your post to your Instagram Story and add one hashtag to the story to boost reach even further.
Use the analytics in the Instagram app itself or your social media scheduler. Otherwise, you are just throwing spaghetti at the wall, hoping it sticks!
By using your analytics, you can then decipher if your hashtags are actually reaching your ideal clients or if the times you are posting actually work for you, or are just over-saturated.
9. Follow Hashtags
Once you know what hashtags are working for you, ‘follow’ those hashtags on Instagram so that you see other posts in your feed that have used these hashtags and can stand out as an expert by providing genuine comments – this will result in more genuine followers vs spam accounts.
10. Hashtags are always evolving
Much like the entrepreneurial world, hashtags are always evolving. Let’s recap the implementation of our strategy:
- Know Your Niche
- Do hashtag research for what your niche is looking at on Instagram
- Create multiple hashtag lists – 10 core hashtags that you change weekly and 20 hashtags that rotate daily.
- Use a Social Media Scheduler
How did this post change your Instagram strategy? If want to learn more then, check out Hashtag Mastery Summit this year.
Author: Nisha Ryan
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