That Thing Called Hashtags
DAY 3 LESSON: THAT THING CALLED A "HASHTAG"
Before you proceed, make sure you've taken screenshots of your Instagram Profile (including the current number of follwers/following and your feed). Your screenshots will show you the transformation and improvements your Instagram will undergo through out the challenge. Ready? GO.
TRIGGER WARNING: This lesson contains memes.
Have you ever tried posting two photos and saw the difference in engagement received between using and not using hashtags? If you did, then you’ve probably been a loyal hashtag user ever since. INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS ARE AWESOME! It does attract more engagement but not always in a way that will favor your account.
A QUICK CAUTION ON HASHTAGS: When used incorrectly, nothing about hashtags will increase your audience or engagement in a strategic way
A lot of articles nowadays claim that using hashtags will significantly expand your reach or that your chances of attracting new followers, getting more likes, and increasing engagement are vastly increased by using it. These are not applicable when you’re using the wrong ones. Sure it CAN HELP you get discovered by new accounts but not in a significant way.
Is this you?
If you’ve been experimenting with all kinds of hashtags for the past few years I’d assume you have experienced these:
- A lot of people bots (or random brands) find your posts
- That means there are a lot of bot accounts, or automated likes, or some weirdos who will like and comment (they try to leave a “meaningful comment” as much as they can) on your account
- You find out that either they’re bots or they’re not your ideal audience, and they definitely did not stick around
We’ll discuss how we can try to get rid of them in a while. But here’s the silver lining: The bots becomes useful when they find your post within the first few minutes of posting your photo and using the hashtag.
- That then increases the possibility of getting MORE immediate likes on your post (within the first hour)
- And as we discussed in one of our earlier missions: more likes and engagement within the first hour = GOOD for Instagram’s algorithm
- Which means, Instagram’s algorithm thinks, ‘Oh this is an awesome post! Let me show it to more people!’ - and so, the higher your chances of showing up on your followers’ feeds
Aside from this, Instagram uses hashtags to feature you
- On their explore page (when you click on explore)
- Their Hashtag Page (when you click on a hashtag)
- Their location page (when you click on a tagged location)
- On the home feed of other people (when they follow the hashtag!)
That would probably be the best reason why you use a hashtag. But if you rely on it alone for your Instagram goal and growth, that probably won’t happen.
Here are some tips on how to use hashtags properly:
- MAXIMIZE 30 HASHTAGS
You’re allowed to use up to 30 hashtags on one post. Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags on one post. Each hashtag is an opportunity to get your post in front of people. The more hashtags you use, the more chances you have to be seen by different people.
But remember to always check a hashtag before you use it. Instagram bans hashtags for a reason. Some temporarily, some permanently. They’re usually normal and innocent words but don’t send Instagram the wrong signal to Instagram and be associated with banned hashtags. If you use a banned hashtag your post won’t show up on the hashtag page. It’s easy to know if a hashtag is banned.
- In the search bar, type a hashtag
- If the hashtag does not appear in the search results, it is banned (see below #fitnessgirls #lean)
- The hashtag could be banned temporarily or indefinitely. This means that one day it might be blocked, another day it might be back
- If the hashtag does appear in the search result, tap on it.
- You have to confirm it has not been banned. Sometimes it will show in the search result but it links to a broken page
2. RESEARCH ON HASHTAGS AND MAKE A LIST
- Know your category (example: fitness)
- Find an Instagram account you really like (big accounts and smaller ones)
- Look what hashtags they use
- Write down some of the hashtags you like
- Press on a hashtag to open the hashtag page
- Look at the “Related” hashtags on top of the screen
- Continue to write your list
- To avoid searching and typing them over and over and over again on Instagram, save it on your notes app where you can easily copy and paste them when needed
3. MAKE HASHTAG GROUPS THAT ARE DIVIDED INTO 4 CATEGORIES EACH
- Big hashtags: This have millions of of posts, they are often general hashtags, there’s a lot of competition, don’t use them too much. The bots and automated likes and comments usually come from this category (example: #love, #fitness, #workout, #family #likeforlike #blogger #tags4like #commentforcomment)
- Medium hashtags: have around a million posts, they are still general.
- Community hashtags: have less than 1 million posts.
- Micro-community hashtags: have less than 50,000 posts (sometimes even around 1,000 posts).
The smaller the number of posts in a Hashtag, the less the competition, the more chances to be featured in the Top 9, the more chances people will find your account when they scroll through the hashtag page
Medium down to Community and micro-community hashtags are usually location-specific tag or associated with a brand.
How to do it:
You can check the hashtag page to see how many posts it has
Find hashtag communities to reach like-minded accounts This is a recent trend since people want to connect with people and support each other. That’s what Instagram si all about anyway. So more and more hashtag communities are being created. For example: We created the #FitnessWithACause for our ambassador community but since the hashtag was quickly picking up traction, even those that are not associated with our brand use the hashtag to probably connect with those that are using it.
To find a hashtag community, search for accounts who are “leaders” and not just influencers in their field. You have to look for brand builders. You are probably following some in fitness or business already). Read their bio, usually they write what hashtag they have created. If not in their bio, look at their caption to see if they are using a hashtag they have created. If a community hashtag has 500 posts and more, it’s considered a community hashtag already.
4. USE HASHTAGS YOUR IDEAL AUDIENCE USE
A hashtag is a keyword. So start finding people who are like your ideal audience (the followers you want to attract / your target audience/client/buyer). The Instagram algorithm loves keywords / hashtags. It links people who use the same hashtags together. So if YOU and your ideal customer are using the same hashtags, Instagram could match you. Your posts might pop up in their Instagram feed or to your target follower and next thing you know they liked/followed you!
- Go to the account of your target/ideal audience
- Look what hashtags they are using
- Use the same hashtags as them (hashtags that are relevant to you)
- Also use hashtags people would type on Instagram to find an account (or product or service) like you
5. FOLLOW HASHTAGS
Yes, you can follow hashtags. When you follow a hashtag, posts from people (using that hashtag) will appear in your home feed. It is a great way to connect with new people. When you like and comment on their photos, they can discover your account too. #GoldenRule #Engagement! #RememberLesson3?
Instagram is a social media. So be social. The algorithm loves interaction. Don’t just use hashtags and post. From time to time go on a hashtag page and take a few minutes to like and comment on people’s posts. People who use this hashtag might enjoy your account too! Start following Hashtags that resonate with you now!
6. KEEP YOUR HASHTAG GROUPS FRESH
Make more than 1 group of different mix of hashtags so you won’t use the same hashtags every post. Change your hashtag group every month, or per 3 posts, or per category of your content (or more often if you want to). Why?
- Instagram will see that you’re not a robot or spamming (they love when we show that we’re active and real people)
- You will appear in new pages/accounts
- It’s a strategy to keep growing your account
- New hashtags = expand your reach
7. MAKE YOUR OWN PERSONAL / BRANDED HASHTAG
Because why not? Some people like to use hashtags to organize their own posts. And that’s an awesome idea because people can click on your hashtag and see all your posts in that niche/category. It might also make way for you to start a community once it starts picking up traction and that will help you on your brand building.
For example: (photo above: @laurentickner used to tag her personal posts #StrentghFeed and not it has been useful for her Instagramm growth as a Fitness trainer turned businesswoman.
You can always start small: your personal happiness when you click on your hashtag and it has all your posts in there properly categorized. It will spark joy. #konmari
DAY 3 MINI-MISSION: CREATE YOUR HASHTAG GROUPS (AT LEAST 3)
With the above tips and your own skills to research for hashtags relevant to what you post (you can use the Later app or the website www.hashtagify.me for this), come up with your own group of 5-25 hashtags (we say 5-25 so you’d have room for 5 more special/personal hashtags that you want to include)
Now, you have a good idea of what hashtags to use.
Here’s the trick: mix the hashtags.
Use a mix of big + medium + small + community hashtags
Remember. a big hashtag will get you a couple of likes and comments at the beginning while a medium to small hashtag will get you more likes and comments in the long run because people will be able to scroll through a hashtag page and find your post
TIP OF THE DAY:
There is an increasing habit of people looking for something on Instagram, to search for #<country/state letter code>
- So for example, I’m someone from California and I’m looking for a fitness coach / yoga coach either for inspiration or as a potential client in the future, I’d use Instagram as a search engine
- I’d probably search for #CaliforniaFitnessCoach rather than just #FitnessCoach
- This is a much more efficient hashtag to use, because the hashtag #FitnessCoach (Without the country) has way more results from all over the world
- So when you write your hashtag mix and create hashtag groups, add either country or city-specific codes to your keywords – especially from Medium down to community hashtags
- If you’re a fitness & Yoga coach in Los Angeles, California, you can use: #CaliFitnessCoach #FitnessCoachLA #FitnessCoachCA #LosAngelesFitnessh #CaliforniaYoga #YogiLA #YogaCA (you can first check the number of posts per hashtag before including them in your mix!) and your ideal follower/target market will probably end up seeing you on Instagram!
DO NOT OVERTHINK THIS. At the end of the day, if using hashtags feels weird to you, don’t do it. You DON’T have to do it, I promise. And if you DO decide to use them – maximize it but don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m telling you, hashtags have their uses, but without patience in trial and error, you’d never see it as a useful tool for your IG growth.
AT THE END OF THE DAY -- it’s still in how well your content connects with your audience.
Hashtags are a tactic. MEANING > TACTIC. Your posts first have to actually connect to your audience before hashtags can add their magic.
So come up with your list of hashtags, COME UP WITH 3 HASHTAGS! Or even think of a PERSONAL HASHTAG! Go use them, try them on for size, if it works, then great, if not, try re-mixing and matching.
Another TIP: If you don’t want to clutter your captions with all the hashtags, here’s how you can use them: In Caption or in Comment.
Some people use their hashtags as their FIRST COMMENT on their post, and they make sure they are hidden by dots and line breaks. They look like this:
(insert all captions here)
How to do it: In the comment box, tap the 123 key. Tap “return” and then enter a period. Repeat those steps at least five times. Instagram caps off captions after three lines so the hashtags won’t be viewable to users unless they tap the more option.
For the clean line breaks on Instagram Captions use this link: http://apps4lifehost.com/Instagram/CaptionMaker.html
THAT'S IT FOR DAY 4!
Now that you know how to use hashtags, apply this on today's posting & engagement practice as we post another content on Instagram today based on the calendar guide during the given engagement window.
Go Back to the Facebook Group to share your insights and catch up with the community. Make sure to engage with your team mates!