How to Use Instagram Hashtags to Increase Visibility for Your Business

November 6, 2018

There are countless hashtags that your business could use on Instagram, so how do you know which ones to use to get the best results?

In this article, you’ll learn how to use hashtags in order to gain visibility and get the best results from your Instagram posts.

Building an Effective Hashtag Strategy

The basic idea of any social media platform is to connect with your audience. With Instagram in particular, one way to connect with a larger audience than just your followers is through the use of hashtags.

Finding the right hashtags can take some time and research, but with a well-crafted strategy you can gain new followers, drive more traffic and even make sales through Instagram.

Instagram lets you include up to 30 hashtags per post. A search of any Instagram hashtag will show you how many posts are associated with that hashtag.

In order to build the perfect hashtag strategy, you’ll need to combine hashtags from four different categories. Each category brings a new level of optimization and will maximize your performance and reach.

Using this formula, you can identify 15-20 hashtags for each of your posts:

  • 5-7 extremely popular hashtags - This includes hashtags that have anywhere from about 100,000 to 500,000 posts associated with them. Try not to go over 500,000 though or you’ll just get buried in the archives within a few seconds of posting. 

  • 5-7 moderately popular hashtags - Moderately popular hashtags likely have 10,000 to 100,000 posts associated with them.

  • 3-5 niche-specific hashtags - These hashtags likely have fewer than 10,000 posts associated with them and are more targeted to your core business and the things your target audience would be searching for.

  • 1-3 branded hashtags - These hashtags are the ones you use exclusively for your brand. They could be brand-specific and/or campaign-related.

The reason behind this strategy is related to how Instagram’s algorithm works. Instagram reviews each piece of content for performance, looking at the engagement it generates from both your followers and non-followers.

When you use popular hashtags, your content appears in higher volume searches, giving you the ability to generate an immediate burst of activity on your post. When you include moderately popular hashtags, it helps to keep your content active in those search results for hours, telling Instagram that your content has a long lifespan. Finally in the niche tags, you can stand out more. The spike in activity from the start will help you show up higher in those niche-specific hashtag results.

Here is an example of a brand that executed this strategy:

In this example from @britjaye, you can see how they incorporate a variety of hashtags related to the content of the image, the industry, and the target audience.

  • Popular hashtags include: #bridetobe, #weddingideas, #weddingphotography, #weddingphotographer

  • Moderately popular hashtags include: #weddingceremony, #weddingflowers, #weddingbouquet and #instawedding

  • Niche hashtags include: #ohioweddingphotographer, #ohioweddingphotography, #daytonweddingphotographer, #cincinnatiweddingphotographer, and #columbusweddingphotographer

  • Branded hashtags include: #britjaye

You niche and branded hashtags should remain relatively consistent throughout each of your posts, while your popular and moderately popular hashtags can change depending on the content of your photo or video.

If you’re struggling to find hashtags that fall into the different size criteria related to your brand, look at the suggested and related hashtags in the Instagram search results. You can also look for inspiration from others in your industry and find the hashtags that might be good for your brand.

Hiding Your Hashtags

In September 2018, a few people discovered that Instagram was testing out a new way to use hashtags without needing to show all of the carefully formulated tags. An app researcher, Jane Manchun Wong, posted screenshots to Twitter of the functionality being tested.

This is how the hashtags would be displayed on the finished post.

While this feature isn’t live yet, it would be a great way to simplify and clean up the app.

For now, the way that most Instagrammers are “hiding” their hashtags is by placing them as the first comment and adding five dots above them in a vertical pattern, which causes the comment to display as “…” unless clicked on.

You can see an example of this in the @britjaye example from before.

If you’re curious if marketing on Instagram is right for you or are looking to take your social media marketing to the next level, call Sales & Marketing Technologies today at 407-682-2222 to schedule a free strategy session with one of our expert social media marketers.

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