Recently, Instagram began paying closer attention to the use of hashtags and their ability to aid in content discovery. If you plan on actively growing your Instagram account hashtags will inevitably play a major role in your daily agenda. In this post, we will discuss the importance of hashtags on Instagram and provide some tips to help you make the best possible use of this social feature.
Understanding Hashtags on Instagram
The concept of a hashtag is not a new one. The once famed (pound sign “#”) on our old telephone landlines has become an internet staple. We commonly use hashtags as a medium for organizing content. This style of organization was popularized by Twitter and is now widely used amongst all popular social networks. Since Instagram is quickly becoming the world’s most popular social network the question begs, ” What is the right way to use an Instagram hashtag ? ”
During the early adopter phase of Instagram many account users become accustomed to filling the post captions with up to 30 widely used hashtags. Some have even devised system cheats algorithm cheats like
- Placing hashtags in the comment section
- Editing posts to include new hashtags in old content
- Creating intricate text structures to prevent hashtags from appearing in the feed
These algorithm cheats may have worked in the early days. However, as Instagram places emphasis on the use of Hashtags (i.e. featuring the ability to follow hashtags) the common practice of spamming a hashtag in a post for greater reach is becoming less and less relevant. Let’s explore the proper use of Instagram hashtags in greater detail below.
As mentioned above, Instagram users now have the ability to follow #hashtags, which means a user won’t have to search for an Instagram hashtag and scroll through the feed to land on your page. Instead, your post will automatically show up in their feed and to potential new followers.
This recent update now requires account holders to pay closer attention to how they actually use hashtags in the post captions. A simple example of how this update may impact your reach is the ability for users who follow your hashtagged content to now mark your content as something that they don’t want to see. Users can select the new “Don’t Show for this Hashtag” option to essentially displace your content from specific hashtags. While no one but Instagram has definite knowledge on the algorithm’s performance this simple feedback mechanism obviously removes posts from the users feed based on the hashtag selected.
What does this small but powerful Update mean for your Instagram account?
As with all systems on the internet, maturity requires refinement. As networks amass more data these datasets need to be organized. Once data has a basic structure that structure is then improved on with increasingly complex arguments. Many of us experienced this with Google’s multiple slaps, Facebook’s business page updates, and now Instagram’s need to improve how its users discover content.
Instagram’s need to contextually categorize content now means we should focus on highlighting relevant hashtags as opposed to generic hashtags with a large reach. You’ve now entered the realm of social niches. Welcome, we’re glad to have you here!
Types of Hashtags
Now that you understand why hashtags are important on Instagram. Let’s explore the different types of hashtags on Instagram. By using proper hashtags, you can now reach your target audience, win customers, and truly increase engagement. There are the different types of Instagram hashtags that you can use depending on your goals and the images you use. These types include:
a) Industry or General Hashtags
- Examples: #photographer, #blogger
- These hashtags are exceedingly popular which are great to use if you’re just starting off or if you need a good boost. However, use them sparingly and ensure they are contextually relevant.
- Since these hashtags are widely used, there’s also a higher chance that followers or views are not properly segmented according to location or specific interest. However, this can be a good hashtag if you simply want to increase your followers and likes.
b) Niche Hashtags
- Examples: #weddingphotographer #travelblogger
- Niche hashtags provide greater specificity. Much like longtail keywords a niche hashtag drills down the audience to provide more targeted and contextually relevant visibility. It may not provide massive reach or engagement but will instead foster a more focused response.
c) Community-Related Hashtags
- Example: #mytravelgram
- Even more specific are Instagram communities where you can be part of a tribe.
- These hashtags help you to connect, share and grow your presence across Instagram.
- Community hashtags are the best way to find trends, common interests and ideas from other users as well.
d) Location Hashtags
- Examples: #SydneyWeddingPhotographer #Koreanfood
- These hashtags imply the name of the places where the picture is taken. It can drive more sales especially to the place where you plan to sell your product.
- The competition here is very low, but the ones who will find you will be the ones who truly care about what you show.
- These hashtags can be also featured on Instagram’s location tab especially if you specify a location on your tag post.
e) Branded Hashtags
- Branded hashtags are created by a company, brand, media, etc to promote their campaign. These hashtags contain specifically the name of the company or a phrase that they want to promote.
- However, these types of hashtags won’t generate a wider reach. In order to do so, you have to combine branded hashtags with other strategies. Examples include #maccosmetics #uniqlolifewear
- You can use branded hashtags in engaging with your followers on a live event, creating raffles and contest, and if you want to position your brand deeper into the minds of your followers.
Avoid Being Blocked or Shadow Banned
There are a growing number of users who are affected with an Instagram shadowban, wherein IG hides your posts from users who don’t follow you in effect it can be a problem on growing your account and getting more followers. If you get shadowbanned, only your current followers can see your posts when they search your account. But for those who don’t follow your account, they won’t be able to see your posts. To avoid this from happening:
- Don’t just copy and paste your hashtags in every post. Instead, come up with a new list of hashtags and switch up hashtags in every post. You don’t want to defeat the whole purpose of promoting your brand or campaign then you have to use the correct and proper hashtags.
- Avoid using gimmicky tags such as #likeforlike or any hashtags that have been used for million times. This might get you a lot of likes but it won’t give you a high number of targeted followers.
- Choose to use tags that describe your business, and your target market. For example, Dove is a personal care brand for hair, skin care, and deodorant. Most of their posts, use hashtag #Dove #RealBeauty, #Deodorant, #Refreshing, #FeelingGood, #FeelingFresh
- Use of community hashtags also brings like-minded users to your page. Community hashtags connect you to followers, improves your connections and makes your account more visible to potential followers.
If you think your posts might be shadowbanned you can test your 10 recent posts by visiting Triberr’s Instagram Shadowban Tester. The shadowban tester will help you identify hashtags that have been banned so that you do not use them in the future.
Instagram Hashtag Tools
There are different tools that help an Instagram user to use relevant hashtags. These tools can help in generating a targeted audience.
To help, here is a list of some tools:
a) Instagram Search
By simply using Instagram, you can already look for relevant hashtags. You can simply select the Instagram search icon and type the keyword you are looking for. However, they’re not sorted by popularity, you have to select manually, and you have to write them in when you want them to add to your posts.
It’s an external tool and in using this you only have to type the keyword on the search option. Then the page will display the most relevant topics and hashtag that is related to the keyword. This tool is free for Twitter users only. If you want to use this tool for Instagram, then you’ll have to get the pro version. This is a web app only, it doesn’t have any version on Android or iOS.
c) Display Purposes
It’s a simple and effective external tool where you write one or two keywords about your post, and the tool will display the best 30 hashtags in order of relevance. The hashtags it provides are both popular and relevant. You would surely love to use this tool. Aside from that, it has a map section and a graph section that shows how the hashtags are related to each other. This is also a web-app only.
This tool can be used also for other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. You just enter the word or hashtag that you want and then it will give you the list of all the posts with that hashtag across all social media platforms. You only have to find and choose relevant content.
Just insert the keyword on the search tab and it will give you the best hashtags and the number of posts using that hashtag immediately. If you click a hashtag, it will give you the list with 30 hashtags that you can copy and paste into your posts. The good thing is that this a web app and can be used by anyone who knows how to do a Google Search.
Overall, hashtags are one of the simplest ways to leverage discoverability on Instagram. However, this does not give you cause to spam your posts with irrelevant hashtags. Instead, this is one of those moments where less is more. Focus on using hashtags that help people discover your valuable content. It’s that easy! Get out there, do your hashtag research, and start reaching a more targeted IG audience today.