Hashtagging on Instagram in 2018.

hashtag

Ahhhh, hashtags.

Rarely has there been a communication tool as misunderstood as the once-upon-a-pound-sign. The majority of social media users integrate hashtags into their social communications however many users are still using them in ways that are less than effective in growing followers + creating community.

We’ve been growing our Insta account at a decent rate and it’s entirely because of our hashtag strategy (no, we don't really like bots, but more on that another time). Want to know more about our strategy? We've assembled a few of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to Instagram hashtags and potentially answer questions you didn’t even know you had.

 

Why do we even hashtag?

The most important question of all, really. On Instagram, we hashtag to be found.

Hashtags on Instagram are search terms! They’re terms that an audience will use to find content that they’re interested in. It’s no secret that #bulldogsofinstagram is one of my favourite hashtags. I can completely lose myself scrolling through the endless feed of sweet, wrinkly faces!  Can you blame me?

 #bulldogsofinstagram

#bulldogsofinstagram

As the owner of a bulldog, I have a unique set of challenges and concerns when it comes to sweet Woody Hayes. Consider that English Bulldogs:

- don’t swim (WH actually sinks to the bottom of the lake)

- can usually slip out of most harnesses due to their chest size

- struggle to drink water due to their short snout

- face a lot of skin disorders to prevalent food allergies

Any business providing a solution to one of the issues above would find an engaged, captive, segmented audience  by using the hashtag #bulldogsofinstagram to post about their solution (especially if they used a super sweet bulldog as a model).

 
 WH in his Outward Hound lifejacket. Their brand hashtag is #outwardhound.

WH in his Outward Hound lifejacket. Their brand hashtag is #outwardhound.

 

 

Where can I hashtag?

On Instagram, you are able to post hashtags in stories:  

 
Instagram stories hashtag
 

....in your bio: 

 
Hashtag in bio
 

...and in post captions: 

 
hashtags in post captions
 

 

Story hashtags can be found by users when they search the hashtag by clicking on the circular icon for that hashtag.

 
Instagram hashtag #bulldoglove
 

Post hashtags enable your content to appear in the square spaces when the hashtag is searched. Your hashtags in a post can be placed within the copy, at the end of the copy or in the comments. We are often asked if a post performs better when the hashtags are in the copy versus in the comments. Having tested this ourselves, we’ve found no great difference in engagement when your hashtags are placed in the first comment.

Placing a hashtag in your bio doesn’t get you found. Instead it directs users off of your profile and sends them to the hashtag that you’ve included. For this reason, we recommend only using your own brand hashtags in your bio. (What’s a brand hashtag? We cover that below).

 

How many hashtags should I use?

You can use up to 30 hashtags in a post. As such, we recommend that you use 25-30! Those are 30 chances for you to be noticed by your potential community.

 

Which hashtags should I use?

Finding the optimal hashtags to build the right audience for your brand is as much art as it is science. You’re looking for that optimal hashtag mix that will allow you to be seen by that hashtag’s community.

First, we recommend that you start by taking a look at what hashtags your competitors are using. Next, spend some time looking at the hashtags that your ideal clients are using… Not sure where to find your ideal clients on Instagram?? Maybe start with the people that are following your closest competitors.

There is only so much real estate in a social media feed, so you’re likely to be viewed by more users on a hashtag feed without too many posts in it. At the same time, you don’t want to use hashtags with too low a rate of usage.

We aim for the following:

8-10 Hashtags between 50k-200k uses.

8-10 Hashtags between 201k-500k uses.

8-10 Hashtags between 500k-2m uses.

We generally avoid hashtags with more than 2m uses as we are likely to get lost in the sea of posts under that hashtag.

 

Can I use the same hashtags in every post?

Unfortunately, no. We recommend working with 3-4 hashtag sets based on the type of post and audience that you’re looking to reach. Using the same set of hashtags on every post could be seen as spam by the Instagram algorithm and ultimately affect your post’s visibility.

Once you’ve identified the hashtags that you’re going to start testing, we recommend that you store them in a note on your phone to copy + paste whenever you post.

Instagram is always evolving to deal with an increased flow of user traffic and to improve user experience. As such, we can count on hashtags becoming more competitive and new hashtags continuing to emerge. Be sure to monitor your performance over time in terms of engagement rates. If you notice that engagement starts to drop, perhaps it’s time to revisit your hashtags again.

Do you have any more questions about Instagram? Check out our other Instagram-related posts:

8 Brands That I Can't Stop Watching on Instagram

Instagram For Business: Breaking Down The Basics

How To Use Instagram Story Highlights

Our Guide To Instagram Stories

Still have a  question? Let us know in the comments below!  Your question just may be our next blog post.