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Understanding & Using Instagram Hashtags to Get Noticed

By March 23, 2017 March 3rd, 2018 10 Comments


The hustle on Instagram is all in the #hashtags. If you aren’t using hashtags, and lots of them, then you are gettin’ it wrong. To get as much exposure to your Instagram posts as possible, let’s get it right.

#WhatIsAHashtag
What is a hashtag and what does it do? It basically creates a party everyone who knows the secret knock (aka hashtag) is invited to. Want to go to a coffee party on Instagram? Type #coffee into the search bar and BAM, you are now at the coffee party. Every image recently posted on Instagram with #coffee in its caption or 1st comment is now visible to you in the #coffee stream. Being invited to the party has never been so easy.

#BeThisPerson
Using hashtags that apply to your brand image or topics you are creating content around can generate organic traffic and bring people genuinely interested in what you have to say or sell to your feed. I get more clients from Instagram than any other platform. Say it with me; Hashtag. Hashtag. Hashtag.  

#DontBeThisPerson
Don’t be the person who uses popular hashtags that have nothing to do with their brand or post just to try to drive traffic. It’s disingenuous, pulls a crowd that couldn’t give a crap about what you have to say and people won’t trust you. Remember, the goal with Instagram isn’t to garner a massive amount of likes or followers; the goal is to create an engaged audience of followers you can potentially later convert to clients.

#WhichHashtags
Every image you post fits into several hashtags that are searched daily by thousands of people. There are people who are just waiting to see your photo of coffee in the #coffeelover hashtag or browsing for #socialmedia tips just like your’s. If you don’t use the hashtags, these people will never find you. Make it easy for Instagram users. 

But how do you know which hashtags to use? Let’s say you are selling a product that helps women’s eyelashes thicken. Go to Instagram, type in the search bar “#lashes” and a dropdown of hashtags with the word “lashes” in it appears. Scroll down and look through how many posts the various hashtags have. You can also use The Ultimate Hashtag Cheat Sheet for Women Entrepreneurs!  Give Me All the Hashtags!

When selecting which hashtags to use, you want a mix between hashtags with large numbers of posts associated with the respective hashtags and hashtags with small numbers of posts associated. The hashtags that have a massive number next to them give your post the opportunity to be seen by A LOT of people. However, with so many posts associated with these trending hashtags, it’s hard to stand out. While you do have the chance to be widely seen, you also want to play the game with less popular hashtags. High school is over. This isn’t about a popularity contest anymore. Your goal now is to just be seen. Increase your chances of being seen by using a mix of hashtags. 

You are likely to be a quick blip on the massive hashtags radar as posts are being added on Instagram at the speed of light. You have a better chance of trending at the top and being seen on the smaller hashtag feeds as fewer people are posting.

TIP: If you are a local business owner, ALWAYS tag your city (and/or the closest major city) as a hashtag.

REMINDER: Your goal with hashtagging should be to join a well-attended party where you can network. Making up your own hashtags (like my cheesy headers in this post) are useless. You’ll be the only one attending your networking party. #fail

#HowManyHashtags
You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Remember, only use hashtags that other people are actually using too. 

#WhereDoIPutHashtags
There are two places you can put hashtags: in your actual image caption, or as the first comment on your post. There is absolutely no difference. It’s all about personal preference. I like to put hashtags as the first comment because I like how it visually looks better. If you are going to put them in the first comment, make sure you have them copied them to your clipboard and you post them as a comment the second your post is live. You don’t want anyone to comment before you do. 

#BONUSTIP1
Create a TRIBE and support your tribe members. In real life, you have several friends that are there to support you. Social media is no different. Algorithms are directly affected by the amount of interest on your posts, especially on Instagram and Facebook. Create a group of 5-15 people who are willing to support one another by commenting and liking each other’s content on Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis. This will significantly increase the exposure your posts get. Ideally, your tribe should be commenting and liking your posts as soon as they go live. Share your posting schedule with your tribe or create a group in your messages to alert everyone when you have a new post. 

#BONUSTIP2
I have a Google Doc where I store all of the hashtags I use on my accounts and my clients’ accounts. This Doc has hashtags relevant to female entrepreneurs, social media, puppies, beauty, fashion, cocktails, movies and so much more. Create your own cheat sheet with ready to go hashtags. To do this, think about all your post themes or topics. What do you post about on a weekly basis? Your kids? Healthy recipes? Workouts? List them out, then go research which hashtags are associated with these topics. Once you have a list of pre-researched hashtags you can copy and paste, it will become SO much easier and quicker to post every day.

I have created a list of hashtags, just for you, broken down by category. Give Me All the Hashtags

This list is your hashtag starting place. Get specific within your industry as well.  ALWAYS use hashtags on your posts and stories!  #happyhashtagging!

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