When looking for an easy Instagram hashtag strategy – it can be really daunting seeing so many floating around! Even doing a hashtag search can be more worry than its worth! So how do we establish a good Hashtag strategy? Where do we focus our energy?
What is a hashtag?
According to Instagram – A hashtag is like a search word associated with an activity or image.
Hashtag and location pages include public photos and videos that were shared with the corresponding hashtag or location. You can tap at the top of these pages to see public stories, and scroll down to see public posts.
Instagram Hashtag Analytics
Obviously – because we know you are smart, you have your Instagram set up as a business account. You already know how many Instagram hashtags to use (its 30 if you didn’t know but we recommend 25 tailored ones) and Instagram cuts off the first line of text anyway so It really doesn’t make to much difference if you have put it directly in the caption, or in the comments.
What matters is that you are researching those hashtags and making sure they are the ones that best fit and suit your business and brand. Remember there is a limit on how many hashtags you can use, this is 30. And 10 in stories.
You also need to move them around and shake them up – using the same 30 over and over again is not a strategy you want to employ.
So open up your last post on Instagram – How many of those views were from hashtags? If there were not many – it means potentially that your hashtags are not performing as well as you would like, so how do you tweak your strategy to make sure you are meeting those needs?
We went into detail about what statistics you should look into on Instagram if you want to learn more.
What hashtags will work the best for my business?
There are a couple of ways of establishing what hashtags work for you, the first is writing down a list of words that work for your business. Lets take Bullet Journal for example. This is a popular hashtag at the moment with over 2.5 million posts.
Brain storm what other words could go with this
#bulletjournalinspiration #bulletjournalcreative #bulletjournallife #bulletjournalproductivity #bulletjournaljoy #bulletjournalnew etc etc. Once you have a list of about 50 – have a look at them in the search bar of Instagram. You want to make sure that they actually are relevant and helpful to your business. If it’s not relevant, leave it off or replace it.
Now head over to people you admire or are in competition within your niche – what hashtags are they using?
Monu Rohila, Director- New Business & Marketing of Hoho Media and Infotainment Agency give us some of the following stats;
Instagram posts that use hashtags get more likes and comments, with posts containing 9 hashtags performing 2.5x as well as posts using just 1 hashtag. Only 27% of marketers use less than 3 hashtags per post because Instagram hashtag research feels like hard work, it’s time consuming, and it breaks the otherwise enjoyable flow of posting to Instagram. But it doesn’t have to.
Building a hashtag ladder for hashtag research
This is a little know trick to help you develop your hashtag strategy so lets do it together.
- Brainstorm all those words you think would work well for your business
- Using your top 10, search them on instagram, and list how many posts are associated with them
- Head to the free hashtag search tool – display purposes – to see what suggestions they give you. They rank the hashtags for you, ranking them by relevance and popularity.
- You want to create a sort of a “ladder” if you post your post into a pool of hash tags that have 2.2million posts, chances are unlikely you will be featured. But if you combine that (the luck) with smaller hashtags combinations, you will create almost a ladder effect in the algorithm – so go back and rank your hashtags from smallest – 2000 posts eg, to 2.2 million posts. You have 30 hashtags to use – so use all 30 wisely.
- Have a rotating pool of about 50, because if you consistently post one set of 30 over and over, Instagram decreases your visibility.
- Use your statistics to check which grouping worked the best and the details that were associated with
This strategy is supported by Karlyn Williams, Founder & Lead Strategist, Oh Snap! Social who suggests the following for hashtag ladders;
When it comes to hashtags it’s all about balance. When doing research, you should have a balance of popular hashtags (100,000 number of posts) and not so popular hashtags (1000-50000 number of posts). As a hack, I keep a list of different categories of hashtags in my notes that are relevant for my business and audience to add as a first comment for better discoverability.
What do the experts suggest for Hashtag strategies?
Think of Hashtags like keywords on google
Mordecai Holtz , Chief Digital Strategist, Blue Thread Marketing says
The best way is to view hashtags like keywords. The same words you want to rank on Google for, those are the industry terms you want to rank high on social. Produce a list of 20 hashtags/ keywords and then start searching the hashtags based on audience, competitors, and which industry leaders are already using. The more focused the hashtag, the higher the engagement of the readers/ viewers.
Look at your competition, what are they using and how are they using it?
There’s a lot of research that goes into building a hashtag strategy. First, it starts with monitoring your competitors what are they using? To make things a little more quantifiable, at Digital Radar, we use a tool called Hashtagify – it’s a powerful tool that allows you to see the depth and breadth of the reach of a particular hashtag, how it’s used, and who the top influencers that are using it… If you’re not using it, most likely your hashtag strategy is misinformed
This is theory of competition supported by the opinions of Reesy Floyd-Thompson, The Digital Wonder Woman
Competitor analysis is the key to good hashtag research and two of the best tools for this are Instagram and Plann. Find profiles that are similar to the product or service you offer. Review hashtags that are relevant to your offer. Make sure the photos under the hashtag are appropriate. Instagram gives suggestions for related hashtags. Make a list and use accordingly. Similarly, Plann is a mobile app that allows you to review your competitors hashtags to see which ones are performing well. As with anything in marketing, it’s good ole trial and error. Make sure to use a mix of hashtags and switch them up where necessary.
Its clear that competition is important, and checking out what your competitors are doing in your niche is critical says Bobbi Ridgeway, our Social Media Manager HereComesTheGuide.com;
I like to take a peek at the hashtags our competitors are using, but I also search through commonly used hashtags in the Instagram app and check them out. You can see the number of times each hashtag has been used to determine popularity. I use hashtags that aren’t oversaturated (like ones that have less than a million uses as opposed to 10 million), aren’t too generic (#cute, #fun, #lol), and sometimes, ones that are trending (#RoyalWedding, #PumpkinSpiceLatte, #ValentinesDay).
Getting granular with hashtags is best practice, since using super popular hashtags only results in getting your brand buried in a sea of identical tags. Looking for tags with medium and even low popularity that are super specific to your post/niche are the ones that’ll get you found.
Aside from that, another best practice is to use your own branded hashtags on each and every post.
Lets look at some hashtag research tools, and hashtag generators
Obviously when looking for easy Instagram hashtag strategy ideas, you’ll want something that can help you generate some ideas for hashtags especially when starting out. So googling hashtag pickers or hashtag generators can be a little bit hit or miss and you might get frustrustrated. So we found some great free ones you can use to make sure you are getting the best from your hashtags.
Our personal favorite: Display purposes – totally free and ranks your hashtags by popularity and relevance. You can search by geographical region or hashtags that link together through a sort of root system.
Ritetag is another free tool with an extension download. You can either type a caption or a insert an image and it will suggest hashtags or generate hashtags for you.
Hashtagify can be somewhat free and there is obviously a paid version – it ranks the hashtag on recent popularity, who is using it at the moment, and how its been trending – I like that you can see where the hashtag is most popular geographically and which influencers have been using it the most.
Trendsmap doesn’t give you a great deal of insight into the hashtag itself, but does give you a good idea of current popular hashtags in an area or region. It’s free and helps show you what people are talking about.
What happens when hashtags don’t work?
This is called “shadow ban” or banned hashtags. This means that the content associated with hashtags might be blocked by Instagram because of concerns for its users. Whats funny is come can be banned forever, and some might only be down temporarily. For example #desk and #workflow are banned. If you search for it in the explore page and no tags come up? It’s probably a banned hashtag and one you shouldn’t be using.