Creating great content will help you engage with users and may even grow your follower count to some extent. However, it will be a struggle for you to reach anywhere close to all the users who would likely be interested in your brand without hashtags.
Using hashtags can be a fast way to grow audience, but only if you use relevant ones. This is where things become complicated. For instance, the most popular hashtags appear in millions of posts. If you use these, you will barely improve your visibility and it is unlikely that the people you do reach will be part of your target audience. In other words, you may receive a few likes, and even a few followers, but this will do nothing for the goal of your strategy.
A better method is to find hashtags that are popular in your niche or community. The more specific you are, the narrower the user base and the better you can reach engaged followers.
The question, then, is how to find these hashtags.
1. Put In the Research
In social media marketing, you can leave nothing up to intuition — Instagram hashtags included. Instead, you need to research. A good place to start is by checking out what your followers and competitors are using. You can determine what is leading to the greatest engagement by checking out which hashtags they use most often.
Once you have some ideas, input them into the search bar. Instagram will present you with related hashtags that you can use to add variety to your campaign.
2. Pick Low-Competition Hashtags
When you input a hashtag into search, you’ll see how many posts are already using this hashtag. Favor hashtags with low competition, as these will allow your posts to appear nearer the top of search results.
The ideal level of competition for your brand will depend on your current following and engagement as well as how wide or narrow your target audience is. Feel free experiment to find out what works for you.
3. Use Tools
To take you research a step further, use tools dedicated to uncovering the best hashtags on Instagram. One such tool is For Display Purposes Only. You input one or a few hashtags into the search box and the tool presents you with related options. Plus, it automatically filters out banned and spammy hashtags.
Another option is the app AutoHash. This is excellent for small businesses, as it provides location-based suggestions. The algorithm recognizes what your Instagram photo contains and combines this with your location (found through GPS) to provide you with the most relevant hashtags. It also allows you to favorite hashtags and to copy sets of hashtags to apply to another picture.
4. Incorporate Branded Hashtags
It’s a good idea to include at least a few branded hashtags in your strategy. In fact, 70 percent of all the hashtags on Instagram are branded. Into this category falls hashtags that use your brand name and the names of products as well as unique hashtags you create for a campaign.
Branded hashtags are useful for various reasons. For one thing, they make monitoring the success of your brand on Instagram easier. They also help you to involve users in your campaign — followers can create user-generated content and attach the hashtag.
You should also consider using the branded hashtags of curators on Instagram. You just need to find accounts that match your style and content type. If owners of the accounts like your post, they may share it, enabling your content to reach their followers.
5. Try Trending Hashtags
Whenever possible, use trending hashtags that relate to your industry. Bear in mind that, depending on your business, this may never happen. In such cases, try using trending hashtags that are less-targeted but still work with your posts. This includes hashtags related to holidays, current events, and news topics.
Bonus Tip: Use the Right Number of Hashtags
After all this research, you should have a long list of potential hashtags to use. Although you can use up to 30 per post, this is often overkill.
Find the right amount of hashtags for your posts by checking out what your competitors do — there’s a good chance that around the same number will work for you. Again, though, don’t make assumptions. Try different amounts on different posts and see if you notice any trends in engagement. Whatever you ultimately decide, only ever use hashtags that are relevant to the individual post.
Once your Instagram strategy is up and running, you need to monitor the performance of your hashtags. Discover which hashtags are leading to the greatest discoverability and engagement and then research variations on these. This will enable you to continue growing your audience and develop a stronger relationship with followers.
For more Instagram advice and support, check out our social media marketing services.