Hashtags were introduced to the social media world in 2007, though they still serve as a source of great confusion to many. When used correctly, they can maximize your exposure, so you can think of it as search engine optimization for your social media posts. Most platforms use hashtags, though Instagram seems to be the most popular one. We have created an Instagram hashtags cheat sheet to help you get the most out of this daunting aspect.
One of the most used platforms for businesses these days seems to be Instagram. In order to achieve the most success, you don’t just want followers, you want engaged followers. Using hashtags is a key component of your audience engagement. According to one study, posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement, but there is more to it than just slapping on a few at the end of your post. Consult our Instagram hashtags cheat sheet to become a pro!
1. Identify your content and audience.
You want to use hashtags that relate to both your post content and your audience. On Instagram, you have a maximum of 30 hashtags you can use, so this gives you some options when deciding on your target hashtags. You can include some that describe the content of your post, your target audience, as well as specific subjects to connect with as many users that are interested in that topic. Check out what your competitors are using for hashtags to see what works for them.
*Only use relevant hashtags. If you throw in random hashtags, users can mark your content as unrelated, which can have a negative impact on your account and potentially lead to your content not being shown at all.
2. Follow hashtags
Once you follow hashtags, Instagram will generate similar tags you may be interested in following based off of the ones you already do. This will give you ideas for more hashtags to add to your posts, as well as insight into similar content that may work for competing businesses.
3. Pay attention to the numbers.
When you search for hashtags, you will notice a number below that. That number indicates how many posts are currently tagged with that hashtag. The higher the number, the less likely your post will be noticed or included in the top posts for that specific hashtag, BUT that doesn’t mean you should ignore any hashtag that’s been used a lot. Ideally, you would find a mix of hashtags, with the usage ranging from 5,000 to 500,000, and maybe throw in some larger popular hashtags that are relevant to your content.
4. Hide your hashtags.
It’s no secret that no one likes the look of an Instagram post that has a caption cluttered with 30 hashtags. To avoid this, you can easily hide your hashtags in two ways. The first way is to not include the hashtags in the caption, but rather add them as a comment once you have posted your photo. The second way is to add a break after your caption. You can do this by adding a dot and then pressing “return” and repeating this 5 times, then add your hashtags! Remember, you do not have to use all 30 hashtags that Instagram allows you per post. Instagram users have found that posts with at least 11 hashtags have the best engagement.
5. Don’t use the same set of hashtags on every Instagram post.
If you keep using the same set of hashtags on every post, you are at risk of being marked as a spam account. If this happens, your posts won’t show up under any of the tags you used, rendering them completely useless. To avoid this, you can save different groups of hashtags in your notes to copy and paste onto your posts. Instagram also has a feature that will autocomplete hashtags when you start typing them. You can use this to research similar hashtags and their popularity. This can be very overwhelming at first considering the number of unique hashtags being used on a daily basis, but once you narrow down your topic, you will be able to sort through specific hashtags with much greater ease.
6. Create branded hashtags.
Create a hashtag specific to your business that you can use on every post, then make sure to include it with every list of hashtags you create. Whenever someone searches for your hashtag, they will be exposed to all of your content. The key to creating a successful branded hashtag is doing your research, as you don’t want to use a hashtag that is already attached to other types of content. You want yours to be unique to your business so that when your targeted audience searches it, they find what they are looking for. You also want to make sure it is easy to spell. Hashtags only work if they are spelled the same way.
7. Include hashtags in your story posts.
You now have the ability to customize Instagram story posts even more by adding hashtags, locations and tagging accounts. If you add a relevant hashtag to your story, it will show up in the public story for that hashtag, further boosting your exposure. Anyone that follows the hashtag you use will be exposed to the story, so even if your post gets bogged down among the hundreds and thousands of other posts, your story won’t be.
8. Use location-specific hashtags.
Though you are able to geotag a location for each post, you can take it a step further and use location-specific hashtags to ensure you reach your local audience as well. People love to know what is going on in their hometowns or where they are traveling, and a great way to garner new interest is to draw on that.
*You can create a geotag for your store’s location so that anyone who visits can check in and share their experiences.
9. Utilize Instagram daily hashtags
Days of the week Instagram hashtags are a great way to stay up to date and connected. Daily hashtags can be pretty broad, as broad as #monday for example, but you can tailor them to your industry and company culture as needed.
According to this study by Hootsuite, Monday is the best day to post on Instagram. There are tons of options there, from the standard #mcm, that one probably won’t relate to many industries, but it’s a well-known one, to #mondayvibes, which can be used to express your extreme dislike to the start of the work week.
Other popular Monday hashtags are:
Weekdays are proven to be the best days to post, as opposed to the weekends, and while Tuesday is not the best day, it’s still a weekday.
Popular Tuesday hashtags:
Popular Wednesday hashtags:
Thursday is right up there with Monday as being a top day to post.
Popular Thursday hashtags:
- #tbt (or #throwbackthursday)
The last day of the week before the #weekend! Use Friday to have a little fun with your posts.
Popular Friday hashtags:
Saturday may garner a good amount of traffic, but it isn’t quite up there with Monday and Thursday. Nevertheless, there are still great hashtags for you to use if you wanna keep up a steak of posting daily.
Popular Saturday hashtags:
You could opt not to post on Sunday, but if that’s not the life for you, there are still some great hashtag options.
Popular Sunday hashtags:
Once you master the hashtag strategy that works best for your business, you will be well on your way to expanding your audience and following. If you follow this Instagram hashtags cheat sheet, you’ll find that strategy in no time!