Believe it or not, yes, hashtags are still popular.
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Many, many people don’t understand the use of hashtags and have, therefore, stopped using them.
Don’t be fooled though. There are still plenty of people and businesses who rely on hashtags to find solutions to their needs, whether it’s looking for a social media manager, a new restaurant in your area, or a graduation photographer.
Why are hashtags important to my Instagram strategy?
Hashtags are still one of the best ways to increase visibility and improve engagement on Instagram.
Whether you’re using pre-existing hashtags or creating new hashtags specifically for your brand, you’ll be able to reach more accounts when you use them.
There are still many users who search for or follow hashtags every day. It might be an industry keyword they like to follow for new trends, or maybe they’re searching hashtags related to a timely event that day.
Visibility is required to be successful on Instagram. After all, if no one is seeing your posts, there’s not really a point to being on the platform. Hashtags are a great way to appear in the searches of people who don’t currently follow you, but who likely would be a great fit.
Hashtags can help drive engagement, especially when you ask your audience to use your own branded hashtags. Whether you’re running a contest or looking to gather user-generated content, asking your followers to tag their posts with a specific hashtag (and tag your account, of course) can increase engagement with your brand. This also helps you increase visibility, because your followers are promoting you to their connections.
How to find the best Instagram hashtags
Researching the best Instagram hashtags can easily lead you down a rabbit hole if you’re not careful. One of the best ways to save time and keep your focus is to use a high-quality hashtag generator.
Kicksta’s hashtag generator is easy-to-use and provides related hashtags to the one you enter. You can search based on, top hashtags, best match hashtags, or random hashtags. From there, you can choose those that best match your brand and save them to different hashtag groups.
If you don’t want to use a generator, you can also search through Instagram yourself. Start by looking at your competitors or leaders in your industry to see what hashtags they’re using. From there you can select one of those hashtags and see what posts appear. Look at those posts and see if another hashtag catches your eye. You can repeat this process with accounts outside of your industry too if you think their hashtags might be relevant to you.
Types of hashtags to research and use
There are many different types of hashtags that brands and accounts use on their various posts. The best hashtag strategies use a mixture of different types and sizes of hashtags.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of hashtags you might want to incorporate into your Instagram strategy.
As with anything trending, trending hashtags are the most popular hashtags at any given moment. It’s not easy to find trending hashtags on Instagram like it is on Facebook.
If you’re using a hashtag generator, it likely has an option to choose “top” hashtags. This will show you those that are trending.
Or, if you want to stay within Instagram, you can go to the Search page, but don’t actually type anything into the bar. This will show you trending posts that are relevant to you. You can scroll through these posts and see which hashtags they’re using. This can be helpful since you’re probably posting about and following accounts relevant to your industry.
Branded hashtags are just as they sound – they’re created by and for a particular brand.
Entrepreneur Jenna Kutcher has done this with her podcast. She created the hashtag #goaldiggerpodcast and encourages her followers to use it when talking about the show or anything related to her business-building content. This has helped her grow her community and the show’s following.
Hashtags that are niche-specific are usually very targeted and might not be as large as other very popular hashtags. The difference is that niche-specific hashtags are often more effective for getting your post in front of people who are actually interested in the content you’re creating.
A tag like #healingmybodywithfood is very niche-specific for those who are looking to heal themselves with their nutrition.
Using hashtags for popular events is a great way to become a part of the conversation. Whether these are events you’re actually attending or those that you know are happening in your industry, adding these hashtags to your strategy can help you get in front of ideal Instagram users.
As an example, Rachel Hollis puts on a major entrepreneur event called Rise multiple times a year. Using one of those hashtags, like, #risexdallas, puts your posts in the conversation with those being posted from the actual event.
Using local hashtags is a great way to make sure you’re attracting users in your area. This is especially helpful if you’re a service-based brand that relies on local clients.
If you’re not bound by physical locations though, don’t discount local hashtags. Many people search for local hashtags to support small businesses or even do research regarding upcoming travel.
Hashtags like #cincinnnatiweddingplanner are a great tool to attract potential clients who are in your area.
Competitor use of hashtags
Using the hashtags your competitors are using can be a good idea. At the very least, you can use the general industry or niche-specific hashtags that they use.
You should avoid using their branded hashtags. Instead, use their hashtags as inspiration, especially if they’re in a different location than you and aren’t direct competitors. Your competitors might have some great ideas for hashtags, so take a look to see what topics they’re posting about.
Don’t forget though, that your hashtags are another chance to set yourself apart. See if you can put a spin on their hashtags that make them more relevant to you. If you’re really stumped, see what broad, industry-wide hashtags they’re using and start using those.
Instagram hashtag best practices
So now that you know the different types of hashtags you should be researching and using, let’s quickly mention some general best practices to make sure you’re putting your hashtags to good use.
- You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, and we recommend that you use them all. We just talked about six different types of hashtags to research and use, so choose a few from each type to create your own personal mix.
- Don’t post the exact same set of hashtags on every post. Mix up the hashtags you use, and make sure that at least some of them relate exactly to what’s in your photo.
- If you don’t want to add your hashtags to your caption, you can post them in the first comment. Many Instagram scheduling tools will actually let you save them in the comment, and they’ll post them for you too.
- Hashtags can take some trial and error, but you’ll eventually find some that work well for you. Make sure you save them for future use. You can save your favorite hashtags to lists on your phone for easy access.
Once you start working hashtags into your Instagram strategy, you’ll likely see an increase in engagement and visibility. Make sure your hashtags aren’t shadowbanned (just search for them and make sure there isn’t a note saying “these posts won’t be shown”), and then have fun working to see which tags work best for your audience.
Guest author: Rafaella Aguiar is the Marketing Manager at Kicksta. She specializes in content and social media marketing. You can find more daily marketing tips from her at @kicksta.co.