Hashtags for Instagram are like a Google search for social media. Whether they’re hidden within a comment below your post or staggered in your caption, Hashtags are QUEEN. They help users find new content, widen the audience of your posts, and grow your potential to gain new followers. On Instagram especially, hashtags can be a powerful tool to help you grow your brand.
If you’re curious about tips and tools to bring your #hashtaggame to the next level, keep reading.
What Are Hashtags & Why Are They Important
Hashtags are letters, numbers, and/or emoji that are preceded by the # symbol ( i.e. #marketing). They are used to categorize your content and make it discoverable. You can think of them as tags that help to flag your content in relevant searches.
As previously mentioned, hashtags for Instagram are a powerful tool to help get your content in front of the eyes of more users. When you use hashtags on your post, your content is added to the “Explore” page for that hashtag. Hashtags allow your brand to be seen by a broader audience than your current follower list.
People can also choose to follow hashtags, meaning they may see your post in their feed without being one of your followers. When you post strategic hashtags that are relevant to your content, you have the opportunity to grow your following, increase lead generation, and find new customers. Translation: hashtags=more sales!🎉
How Many Hashtags Should I Use?
Instagram allows users to post up to 30 hashtags for each post. It’s important to note that just because you can use up to 30 hashtags doesn’t mean you should! Your hashtags should be relevant to your content—not just be there because you think you’re supposed to have hashtags for Instagram. In fact, using the wrong hashtags can actually get your content banned or hidden!
So what’s the ideal number of hashtags for your content?
Research shows that if you use 11 or more hashtags can mean 442% more engagement than using none. When we compose a strategic post, we usually use anywhere from 5 to 15 hashtags. But sometimes we get crazy when we’re promoting a trendy or current events-related topic and use all 30! There really is no perfect number. Just remember to keep your hashtags relevant and #fresh.
Where Can Use I Hashtags?
Instagram’s algorithm has evolved a lot over the years. So have hashtag strategies, allowing businesses to use hashtags in a variety of places within their profile. That means more opportunities to grow your following!
In Your Bio
You can add hashtags into your Instagram bio that are clickable, allowing you to quickly direct visitors to a gallery of recent posts that feature your branded hashtags. Or, as with our bio above, hashtags that describe your business and location and will help customers find you via search.
Pro tip: if your business is brick-and-mortar or has a physical location, use location-based hashtags like #portlandcoffeeshop or #chicagobrunch in your bio.
While not every business can afford to pay influencers to mention their products, there are many strategies you can employ within your social media budget! You can then feature these posts on the company Instagram feed or in your Highlights. By placing your branded hashtags in your Instagram bio you’ll encourage more followers to use your branded hashtags in their posts. This type of content is called user-generated content (UGC) and allows for brands to capitalize on their audience’s unique perspective.
Customers like buying from brands they trust. And with UGC content, there’s no better endorsement than other customers sharing their (great!) experience with your product or service. An Insta strategy that includes UGC is ideal for the health and wellness industry. We know because we work with plenty of nutrition and supplement brands! What business doesn’t love free, authentic content created by happy customers?
Want more tips for optimizing your Instagram Business profile? Read 17 Steps to Optimize Your Instagram for Business Profile!
On Your Instagram Feed
Using hashtags for each of your Instagram posts is a base-line usage of a hashtag strategy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.
There’s no one “right way” to post your hashtags. If you are using a scheduling tool, we suggest adding your hashtags within your Instagram post so you don’t have to go back and add them later. But don’t just throw them in at the end of your caption—this can be extremely distracting! Instead, create space between your caption and hashtags with punctuation, like periods or asterisks. Here’s an example of how we create posts!
You can also hide hashtags for Instagram within the first comment of your post. This separates your hashtags completely from the post and buries them in the comments section if you get plenty of engagement on your posts. This is sometimes preferable for influencers or brands that use the #sponsored hashtag or are using all 30 allowed hashtags and don’t want a huge chunk of text at the bottom of their posts.
Instagram Stories are another ideal spot to execute a hashtag strategy. The Instagram Story feature capitalizes on a whole new type of content creation to engage users. Story hashtags will show up in search and allows for a whole new stream of users to see and interact with your brand.
How Can I Choose the Best Hashtags?
As we said above, adding the wrong hashtags to your post can be worse than no hashtags at all. There are hashtags that the Instagram algorithm temporarily bans. If you use these in your posts, your post may be hidden and its reach will suffer. Unfortunately, this list of banned hashtags is always changing. While there are lists of “banned hashtags” it’s impossible to keep such a list up to date.
Instead of worrying about “banned” hashtags, we suggest simply being smart about which hashtags you’re using. Here are some tips.
Choose Diverse Hashtags
You’ll also want to vary your hashtag usage, posting all of your content with the same set of hashtags may incur an Instagram penalty on your account. Avoid this mistake by building a library of 50+ relevant hashtags for Instagram that you can use in rotation on your content.
Consider Hashtag Size
When you select a hashtag, you should be able to automatically see how many times it’s been used on Instagram. For instance, the hashtag #Health is huge, with ~126 million posts. #Healthyliving is slightly more targeted with ~32 million. #HealthyGut is smaller with only around 549K uses. #HealthyBodyChallenge is very niche, with only 1,500 posts.
Selling personal training services or healthy meal prep packages? Then you’ll want to shoot for using some of all of these hashtag sizes.
When you use a large hashtag for Instagram, your post might reach a huge audience, but it only stays visible for a short amount of time as others create newer posts. When you use a smaller hashtag, your post will stay visible for much longer. This is why you want to try out different hashtag sizes.
Use Short, Memorable Hashtags
Don’t string too many words together. And capitalization is your friend! Your hashtags should be easy to read and remember. This is especially true when you’re creating your own branded hashtags for your products or events. Example: #InvestCon21 instead of #InvestmentConference2021.
The Best Hashtag Tools
There’s no shortage of hashtag tools for Instagram. But not all tools are created equal. Here are a few of our favorite tools to help you bring your hashtags for Instagram game to the next level.
This tool offers free and premium (paid) features for users looking to upgrade their hashtag strategy.
Hashtagify allows you to achieve the following:
- Find hashtag trends
- Check top influencers
- Analyze reach, popularity trends, and optimal post times
- Examine hashtag performance
Hashtagify is a powerful tool with dozens of features you can use to help you execute like the #Instainfluencer you are deep down.
For Display Purposes Only
Another great hashtag research tool for Instagram is For Display Purposes Only. With this tool, you can scan your Instagram profile and receive a free analysis of your hashtag usage. The report provides ways to optimize your hashtag strategy.
One of our favorite features is the hashtag generator this tool offers. Simply type in a hashtag, like “marketing trends” and the tool will auto-generate up to 30 related hashtags to help you build your hashtag profile for your post idea.
A list of our favorite hashtag research tools would not be complete without mentioning Plann. This is a powerful scheduling tool with some unique hashtag features built into their platform. When choosing your hashtag set, Plann shows the popularity of your hashtag and related hashtags in a color-coordinated system to indicate the likelihood of users seeing your hashtag.
Basically, if your hashtag is Red that means it’s too popular and users won’t likely see the tag you’re hoping to use. Green is better, users are more likely to see your post, but Blue is what you want to aim for on Plann.
For example, #marketing will be in Red because it has been used millions of times and your chances of getting noticed are essentially zero. But, if you use a hashtag like #marketingtrends2021 the algorithm will show the hashtag in Green because it’s been used fewer times and is less difficult to be discovered.
Hashtags for Instagram
Hashtags are a critical piece of the puzzle when creating content for Instagram. They allow users to find your content, participate in UGC campaigns, and grow your following.
There are a lot of hashtag tools and hashtag generators to help you grow your Instagram following. Try out several tools and find what works best for you and your content needs. Many of these tools offer great free features, making them an absolute no-brainer for your business. You can also just do your own research, finding hashtags that you like and that reflect your brand’s personality and values!
Do you have more questions about social media strategies? We offer social media management services to help you bring your #socialmedia to the next level. Get in touch today to see how we can help you conquer the Gram in 2021 and beyond.
Want more info on Hashtags? Check out Why You Should Still Be Using Hashtags—Instagram Shadowban Be Damned.