There are two types of Instagram users: those who loathe hashtags and those who over-use them. But if you’re looking to grow your account and increase the engagement on your posts, hashtags can be your best (or worst) friend.
There’s a sweet spot with hashtag use in both number of hashtags and content. You should definitely have at least one hashtag, but 10-15 is the sweet spot. As for content, it’s good to be aware of what tags Instagram has recently banned (so you can avoid them), and it's good to be more specific than vague. For example, #rescuedog is going to result in more engagement than #dog. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get into the fine details of the hashtag and how you can use it to your benefit!
What is a hashtag
If you’ve just landed on this planet or are a time traveler from the past, you might be confused about why everybody is throwing pound signs around. Pound signs, now mostly known as hashtags, are a way to identify a post as being a part of a group of posts. For example, if you post a photo of a cute new dog you just adopted into your space alien family, you might want to connect it to a community of other similar posts by tagging it #rescuedog. That way, other people who are in this community or share this interest can find your post and hopefully connect with you!
Hashtags are also a way to organize your own content both for the platform of Instagram itself and even for your own interests. A lot of people create a hashtag for their event. That way, after the event, attendees or people who are interested can browse the tag and see all the posts that were made from other attendees. Wedding photographer be damned, it’s #SmithWedding2018 time now. For Instagram as a whole, hashtags are what helps categorize a post. So, if people want to just look at pictures of dogs, they might browse #rescuedogs just to see that. If your post isn’t hashtagged, they won’t see your dog. Simple!
Disclaimer: iPhones are not usually a suitable replacement for a wedding photographer.
The Importance of Hashtags
Hashtagging a post is the difference between hanging out in the living room where all the party guests are and sitting in the bedroom alone while still trying to participate in the party. Without a hashtag, you’re basically talking to the wall.
Okay, not really. Without hashtags, the only people who will see your posts are those who already follow you. If that’s what you want, or if your account is private, then feel free to forego hashtags! But if you want to grow your followers and engagement on Instagram, hashtags are a must.
Hashtags are also vital for the online presence of businesses. Hashtags are basically free marketing. When you make posts on your business account, you want local people (or people everywhere if you’re an online business) to see your post so that they learn about what you have to offer and hopefully become a customer. Whether or not they want to be a customer is dependent on what you post, but whether or not they even have that option depends on whether they see your post. Hashtags = visibility.
Hashtags are all about building your existence online. On Instagram, hashtags are the only way to connect to a community. Facebook has groups, for example, but Instagram is much more straightforward of a social media platform than that. It’s posting images, writing a caption, and hashtagging. There are no groups and no fan pages. It’s you and your own feed. If you want to get your feed seen by the people you want in your audience, you need to master the art of the hashtag.
Hashtags are simple by definition but mastering them requires diligence and a little education. Using them will get you more engagement… but using them skillfully results in a lot more engagement, as well as consistent growth for your account. The key to becoming “in” on social media is a great hashtag strategy. But for now, as long as you’re tagging your posts, you’re on the right track!
Need help growing your Instagram account?
One of the most important pieces to grow your Instagram account is engaging with new users who aren’t yet following you. If you’re not yet doing this, then you must start. If you are, then you know that engaging with hundreds of accounts can be extremely time consuming. Let Social Foxer help.