When it comes to hashtags, all the advice is conflicting…

“Use 5 hashtags!”
“No! Use thirty hashtags”
“Hashtags don’t work! Don’t use them!”

However, it’s a fact that posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag! Keep on reading for Smash’s Instagram Basics class…

#1: Why You Should Use Instagram Hashtags
#2: How Instagram Hashtags Work
#3: How to Organise Instagram Hashtags
#4: How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Business
#5: When to Post to Instagram

#1: Why You Should Use Instagram Hashtags

The world of Instagram changes very quickly… but one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of hashtags.
Building an effective hashtag strategy is one of the best ways to get your posts discovered by new— and depending on the hashtags you use and how targeted these hashtags are, can mean more engagement, more followers, and even more customers.

#2: How Instagram Hashtags Work

Let’s talk about how Instagram hashtags work.
Like on Twitter and other social media platforms, Instagram hashtags work by categorising your photo and video content.
Each post you create can be accompanied by a caption and up to thirty hashtags.
For example, a fitness coach might post a picture of a toned woman working out and then use the hashtags

#fitness #fitnessgirl #motivation #inspiration

#3: How to Organise Instagram Hashtags

For example, let’s say you run a yoga brand specialising in retreats around the world.

While you are planning your Instagram content you might have a few different categories that you regularly post to. For instance you might show motivational quotes on a regular basis and you may also post photos of yoga poses in beautiful locations. So I would advise that on your Notes app on your phone you might keep a list of hashtags ready to use. You can always tailor these and add in extra hashtags relevant to that particular post, but you’ll have a basic list ready to copy and paste into Instagram.

#4: How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Business

In order to be successful with hashtags, it’s important to be strategic about the hashtags you use.
While the most “popular” Instagram hashtags have been used millions and millions of times, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a ton of likes and comments simply by adding #love, #happy, or #dog to your post. In fact, these posts will likely get lost in the millions of other posts!

Instead of using the most popular hashtags, it’s better to use the top hashtags that have an engaging community behind them and are specific to your audience or industry.

So, how are you supposed to find these hashtags?
  • Be specific
    The narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users are. You’ll be shocked and surprised by just how niche hashtags can get! For instance, if you are doing a post showing kids playing tennis, instead of just tagging #tennis (8.1 million posts) or #kidstennis (33 thousand posts) or even #tenniskidsofinstagram (just over a thousand posts). You’ll reach a more targeted audience of people who are looking for photos of kids playing tennis and these people are more likely to engage with your posts!
  • Research Your Competitors
    In any area of business, it is always a good idea to see what your competition is up to… and hashtag research is no diffeent! By checking out what your competitors are using you’ll be able to see which hashtags provide the most engagement…. and maybe you’ll discover new hashtags to add to your collection!
  • Find Related Hashtags
    You can browse through posts containing a hashtag you’re already having success with. Can you see a trend of any other hashtags that could be included in future posts? If yes, write them down and also add these to your repertoire!
#5: When to Post to Instagram

Once you’ve picked the right hashtag, you need to focus on getting as much engagement on your post as quickly as possible. And one of the best ways to do this is to schedule your Instagram posts for when your audience is most active on Instagram.

If you post when your audience is most active on Instagram, you’re more likely to drive engagement on that post as it will be towards the top of their feed when they log in. That engagement will translate into Instagram bumping your post higher up on users’ feeds, which, in turn, will result in even more engagement on your post.

Again you can look into Instagram’s insights, but to begin with, imagine your ideal customer; if it’s a busy mum who comes to fitness groups when the kids are at school, it’s more likely that she’ll be on the ‘gram just before she does the school run. If you are targeting your post at tennis coaches who you want to buy your new game for teaching kids, then it’s most likely that they will be browsing social media before schools get out (and before they come to tennis lessons), late at night or early morning.

You’ll get to know what times suit your target marketing by talking to an asking them when they go onto social media. But you can also tell by looking at the time of posts that get a lot of interaction. It’s a cyclical process: higher engagement leads to more visibility, which leads to higher engagement, which leads to more visibility… and it all starts with when you post on Instagram.

#6: Best Practices for Instagram Hashtags in 2019

Instagram hashtags can be a powerful tool for discovery when used properly but can look spammy when used incorrectly. Here are some guidelines to getting more from your Instagram hashtags:

  • When to use hashtags
    As often as possible! When you share content on Instagram, whether it’s as a post or an Instagram story, you need to be using Instagram hashtags.
  • Number of hashtags to use
    Unfortunately, there’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to deciding how many hashtags you should use. Some experts recommend using the maximum number of hashtags allowed (which is thirty) because it gives you more opportunities to be discovered, others recommend using just 5-10. In our experience, it’s best to try both options and see what works for you and your business. We will do another post soon on Instagram Insights where you can see what is working for your page, however, you can do this simply by keeping an eye on the number of hashtags and new followers/reactions.
  • What hashtags to use
    The most important thing to remember is making the hashtags as relevant as the content you are providing and make sure your hashtags are what your target audience is actually searching for and following. If you do this then you’ll grow an engaged and targeted following who more likely to turn into customers.
If you need any help with your Instagram strategy, need guidance with designing some stock graphics then do get in touch!