One of the great things about Instagram is that its users love hashtags. While Facebook and Twitter users tend to find posts with many hashtags annoying or irritating, Instagrammers have fully embraced the abundant use of hashtags.
Hashtags are valuable for boosting engagement and ensuring that your posts are seen and discovered. It’s important to make sure that you are picking the right hashtags for your posts, however. Too vague (#love) and your post will get lost in a sea of content and only be liked by bots. Similarly, too long and specific (#CoffeeEnthusiastWhoAlsoLikesTea) and your post won’t be noticed, since nobody is going to be searching for that particular hashtag! So, here’s a guide to get you started on picking the right hashtags for your next post:
1. Avoid vague, general, or irrelevant terms
While using some of Instagram’s most popular hashtags, such as #love, #dog, or #cute, will increase the number of likes and comments your post receives, the vast majority of these are going to be coming from spammers and bots and thus won’t actually benefit your business.
2. Be specific, but not overly so
By being more specific with your hashtags, you’re more likely to receive engagement from users who are actually interested in your brand or company. Think of the niche market you’re trying to reach. For example, if you own a coffee shop, #latteart will attract users who are more interested in high-end coffee than just #coffee.
3. Follow the trends
Following the latest trends is a great way to boost engagement. Whether you’re posting historical photos from your company with #tbt for Throwback Thursday, celebrating #nationalpancakeday at the office, or participating in whatever the latest “challenge” is going around, not only does following the trends help you come up with content, but it helps you connect with your audience on a more personal level. Just make sure you’re not trying to revive old trends- #fidgetspinners were so 2017.
4. Check your industry
Perhaps the best way to ensure that you’re using the best, most relevant hashtags is to check what others in your industry are using, as often times there are going to be hashtags popular within specific industries. For example, a brand selling outdoor gear and clothing would want to use hashtags focused on outdoor activities, such as #hiking, #mountainclimbing, or #adventure.
5. Create your own
Once you have a solid following on Instagram, engage with your followers by encouraging them to use hashtags that are directly related to your brand. For example, the popular crafts store chain Michael’s has recently been encouraging shoppers to take on the #MichaelsChallenge by using sections of the floral isle as a background to imitate professional glamour shots.
6. Don’t create walls of hashtags.
While you can generally get away with using more hashtags in Instagram posts than on other social media networks, you still don’t want to create a solid wall of hashtags at the end of every post. Luckily you can ‘hide’ your hashtags by instead posting them as a comment on your post rather than in the original post itself. Another, more popular version that you have probably also seen is to separate out hashtags below their post’s main message with three dots like this:
So that they are only visible when the user taps to read the entire post. Both are perfectly acceptable ways to include plenty of hashtags without feeling like spam.