Using Hashtags On Instagram 2018: Best Practices
Do hashtags on Instagram still have you confused? Do you have questions like… which hashtags should I use and where do I put them? I’m going to teach you the latest best practices for using hashtags on Instagram.
Why hashtags matter for your Instagram account
Things on Instagram move pretty quickly, but one thing that has remained consistent is the importance of hashtags. In the past year alone, Instagram has released new features that allow you to better track hashtags and use them strategically throughout your account.
But let’s back up for one moment in case you need a refresher on the definition of a hashtag. Simply put, a hashtag is a word or phrase that has a pound sign (#) in front of it. When you add # these words or phrases become clickable links that allow you to group yourself with other relevant businesses and individuals on Instagram. This is also called a hashtag hub. Hashtags serve a dual purpose of helping you connect with other relevant influencers while also organically expanding your reach.
Even today, using a well thought out hashtag strategy is one of the best ways to organically grow your business on Instagram. Need more convincing? Posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than post without a hashtag.
Picking the right hashtags
Before you start using hashtags in every one of your posts, you’ll need to make sure they’re the right hashtags for your business. If you’re struggling to find the right hashtags for your business, I suggest trying my tried and true method: brainstorming. Jot down all of the terms or phrases that you think are relevant to your business. Trust me, it takes some time but it’s effective.
Now that you have your list, take a look at other posts from industry-relevant accounts. Do your hashtags align with what they use? Are people having interesting conversations in the hashtag hub? Even as your follower count grows, you should be tapping into these hashtags to make sure they are still relevant to your business. During your research, you might even notice other hashtags that are relevant to your business. Go ahead and jot those down too.
Still stuck on what hashtags you should use? Sometimes it’s best to think more simply. You could a hashtag that describes your product, materials you use or locally-sourced products. Ideally, the right hashtags should ensure that your Instagram content is seen by an audience who is interested in your brand’s mission and what you offer.
That’s exactly what DP Jewelry Designs does for their one-of-a-kind creations. They know that their customers are most likely looking for specific kinds of jewelry or materials. That’s why they often use #SterlingSilverBracelet. By using this hashtag, DP Jewelry Designs ensures that their customers will see their products, and since they get a lot of engagement with their content their post is often at the top of the hashtag hub.
Avoid the temptation of using crowded, overly-popular hashtags. Irrelevant hashtags will simply clog your account with unengaged people or bots who leave random comments. Neither of these issues will help you organically expand the reach of your brand. Plus, they’re really, really annoying.
Where to put the hashtags
This is one of the common questions people ask me. People always want to know if they should put their hashtags in the photo caption or in the first comment. My suggestion is to aim for consistency.
That’s why I keep my Instagram captions clean by incorporating the bulk of my hashtags in the comment section. For example, use 1-3 hashtags in your post but put the rest in the first post comment. Whatever you decide to do, you should also be sure to post your hashtags immediately in the first comment so they don’t get bogged down in the hashtag hub.
Why you should be following hashtags
One of the big updates Instagram made this year is the ability to follow hashtags. What that means is that you can now stay up-to-date on various topics, industries and conversations happening in your industry by following a hashtag related to your business.
It’s easy to follow a hashtag. All you need to do is:
#1 Search the hashtag or click one you’re interested in
#2 Tap “follow” in blue at the top of the hashtag feed
I look at the benefits of following hashtags as twofold:
#1 You’re able to watch your industry and competitors
#2 You can watch your target audience and what they’re paying attention to
All of this market research is invaluable, especially when you’re trying to build a strong Instagram community.
How to use hashtags in Stories
This update isn’t quite as new as following hashtags, but it’s still important for connecting with other influencers and potential followers. Using hashtags in your stories is another way to ensure that your content is seen by as many people as possible.
Just like the posts in your Instagram feed, adding a hashtag makes your Story searchable and discoverable to an even wider audience. Your Story might even show up in the explore tab at the top of the page.
Keep in mind that you’re able to put 11 hashtags in a story which will populate in the hashtag hub. Are you out and about? Going to an industry event? Make sure you’re using their hashtag so you can connect with potential followers while you’re there.
How to use hashtags in your bio
Your Instagram bio is like a billboard for your business, and with Instagram’s recent update you can now make your bio even more compelling with clickable hashtags. This update makes your Instagram bio even more functional and user-friendly. All you have to do is add a # in front of a word and it will automatically become a clickable link.
You can use hashtags from everything to promoting your community to highlighting your branded content. I often use #RSGCommunity in my personal Instagram account’s bio. This allows my Ready Set Gram members to support each other and I can more easily engage with my community on a regular basis.
How to categorize your hashtags
Avoid a hashtag headache by organizing your hashtags ahead of time. I suggest categorizing your hashtags per topic in your phone. There are a ton of productivity apps out there, but even something like the notes app works just fine.
I have my hashtags organized by location, Ready Set Gram, the Social Sip (my Facebook show) and creative posts. No matter how chaotic my day gets, it’s easy for me to quickly copy + paste and share. It saves me a ton of time and helps me avoid embarrassing spelling errors.
Ready to kick off your hashtag strategy?
Make sure you grab my FREE and quick download on how to space your hashtags in your Instagram posts. Once you download it, you will be able to use it immediately.
Using hashtags strategically is a great way to build your brand’s presence, connect with potential followers and create a strong Instagram community. Let me know in the comments below the top three hashtags you plan to use when posting.
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