Finally time to write a blog about #hashtags on Instagram. Hashtags are a way of adding keywords or tags to your post. So it helps you to be found, to link your message to other messages in the same category and in that sense it helps you to categorize your pictures. But that is the basic explanation, there is more to say.
If you want my humble opinion, I don’t think Instagram is the best social network there is, but somehow it is very popular. In a way this is puzzling me, because I try to create stuff online by the principle: don’t make me think! One of my personal frustrations is that if I have three notification of people uploading a new post on Instagram, I only can see the last upload if I click on the notification. Another is that I have to use the ‘return’ button too often, which is getting me out of my flow. But maybe the simplicity is also part of its strengths.
On Instagram you are allowed to use up to 30 hashtags. Research has shown that from 11+ hashtags will bring a higher engagement. On twitter you see that more than two will bring you less engagement, on Facebook not using hashtags at all works better than use them, but on Instagram use many. It is best to combine popular keywords with less popular. In this way you are easily found and have ways to specify yourself as well. For instance; #runner is used 1.461.654 times, but #runnewyork is only used 1.784 times.
Most of the times you first share a short (!) story and after this story you list the hashtags. Some add the hashtags in the comments, but with recent changes it actually doesn’t matter, because the Instagram timeline is only showing the first three lines of your story and your followers have to click on ‘more’ to see the entire description.
My philosophy is that when people like your story, they want to click the ‘more’ button. I also think that you have to challenge yourself to keep the story short, because Instagram is about images more than words.
Hashtags are a great way to gain more followers and find influencers or even better: let influencers find you! People will use specific hashtags to search interesting accounts to follow. So if you use popular tags to be found and less common ones to explore more of your work, you are setting your account up to be explored and to gain more followers. In the same way you can connect with accounts that have (more) influence in your field as well.
On Instagram there are certain hashtags that it easy and common to tap in, most of the times connected to days like; #throwbackthursday (share a picture from the past), #motivationalmonday (share something inspiring or motivational) or #followfriday (share pictures from your followers and encourage to start following them). Those hashtags are owned by the users. Most of the times it is not done to hi-jack a hashtag. It looks a kind of desperate and is not adding to the positive vibe you are looking for on social media.
Like you probably saw hashtags are keywords – one or more – that are written as one word without spaces, punctuation or special characters. Another good to know is that you can use capitals to make a hashtag more easy to read.
The process of finding the right hashtags to use is a combination of using common sense, smart thinking and tweeking over time. The common sense has to do with the hashtags that are used by many that identify with the themes of your organization or cause. The smart thinking has to do with the niche you are in as an organization and find the less common hashtags. The tweeking has to do with fine-tuning the hashtags over time, to the story you share and the changes you sense while using the platform.
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