Hashtags. When they first came out people were confused why the pound sign was entering their social channels. In technical terms a “hashtag” is a type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content. Some people aren’t a huge fan and even find them annoying. But did you know that posts with at least one Instagram hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag?
Hashtags first got their start on Twitter. Twitter, of course, was around 4 years before Instagram. On Twitter, they were used to track trending topics and follow along with popular conversation. We have seen a decline of hashtag use on Twitter, but they have become even more vital on Instagram for bloggers, influencers, and brands. Before you slap any hashtag onto the end of your caption- know the rules:
- Keep them Focused and Relevant
Ask yourself, “What are we posting about and why”-this is a great way to help get you started. Instagram recently rolled out the ability to follow hashtags which means that instead of a user having to search for an Instagram hashtag and scroll through an endless feed, your posts could now show up automatically in the feeds of potential new followers.
- Location, Location, Location
Placement matters with hashtags. First, be sure to post them after your body copy. It’s also a good idea to create some space between caption. A common practice is the three dots method (shown below)
This creates some separation to know when the caption ends and your tags begin. Second, the order in which you place your hashtags makes a world of difference. Once you have a good amount of hashtags that you have decided on. You’ll now want to strategically choose which hashtags you want to list first. Most users aren’t likely to read through all of your hashtags, whether you’re choosing only 8 or to go for all 30. If there are hashtags that you want others to read make sure that you list them first.
- Don’t Limit Yourself
Hashtags should be included but not limited to captions. They can be included in bios and when a user taps it they will be taken to that hashtag’s page to follow it, according to Hootsuite. For businesses with popular branded hashtags (more on that later), it’s a great way to foster engagement or collect user-generated content. They can also be used in comments and stories. Use the hashtag sticker to include branded hashtags in your Stories.
- Do your Homework
You might have the perfect hashtag- it will reach your target audience and promotes your brand -but if it’s one of the most popular hashtags, chances are it will be lost on the shuffle. But don’t swear off popular hashtags entirely, Hootsuite says, “As long as they’re relevant to the post and used sparingly, popular hashtags can help expand your reach without making you seem desperate or spammy.”
- Find it and Never Let it Go
While it’s important to switch up a few hashtags and keep them related to your posts, pick one or two hashtags that fit your brand and use them in every post. This way people can always know how to find you and even follow that specific tag. Taglines and slogans are great hashtags to use continuously.
- Don’t Overdo it
Users tend to view paragraphs of hashtags as an eyesore. Most top brands — 91% of them, to be exact, use seven or fewer hashtags per post. It’s easy to assume that’s the magic number for everyone, right? Krystal Gillespie, HubSpot’s Social Media Community Manager said that this isn’t always the case: Some accounts are more successful with hashtags ranging from the low teens 20s, and up to 30. A good rule of thumb is to keep the range from 7-30.