Instagram is constantly changing and so are the algorithms. *Insert eyeroll here* Although there are no hard set rules for how to grow your following or go viral, there are several ways to use hashtags to your advantage so that you reach a specific target audience.
Now, we could dig in to what hashtags are, how they work and why you should use them - but we feel like you’re already up to speed on all that. You know what a hashtag is, you’ve used them and you’ve seen others use them (maybe a little too much.) This post is all about how to use the right hashtags to grow and connect with your targeted community in an organic way.
Remember the days when you used to see # and think of it as a number sign? Yeah, neither do we. Hashtags have completely taken over the social media landscape and, often, everyday conversation and we’re breaking down the nitty-gritty details to help you and your business grow. Hashtag blessed.
1. Following Hashtags
Just like you follow your favorite brands, you can also follow your favorite hashtags. By doing this, content that you actually want to see will be dropped right into your feed for you to find, like and interact with. This creates opportunities for you to find similar profiles or people that can help grow your business, give you inspiration or even become your friend IRL.
What does this mean for you?
Instead of users searching for a specific hashtag and scrolling through an endless feed of photos, your hashtagged post will automatically pop into their feed giving them the opportunity to see your post, engage with it and *hopefully* press that follow button. By using hashtags that are relevant to your brand, the photo and the audience you want to reach - you’ll create endless opportunities for users to find you without having to do too much heavy lifting.
2. Always Switch It Up
It’s SO important to keep an arsenal of hashtags at your disposal to make sure you are accurately tagging your posts. By switching up the tags, this will keep your posts more authentic and save them from getting buried by the all-knowing Instagram algorithm. Keep a list of a few different options on the notes on your phone or, if you used Later, in the saved caption option - this way you’re never scrambling to come up with hashtags at the last minute.
Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags per photo. Use them all! Put them at the bottom of your caption using spacers or in the next comment so that they don’t take away from the awesome content in the caption.
3. Interact With Hashtags
If you have your own branded Instagram hashtag, make sure that you interact with it! Check it often and engage with the community that uses it. These are your people! Take the time to scroll through the content to leave genuine comments on photos that you love. This is also a great way to find reposts for your own feed! No branded hashtag? No problem. Follow (and use) hashtags *see step 1* that you / your business resonate with to become part of a bigger community of users. Instagram is all about creating an online community of like-minded individuals and hashtags are the best way to find your tribe!
What does this mean for you?
By using and interacting with specific community hashtags, this increases the searchability of your post and is a great way to connect with others, gain followers and grow your community.
4. Use Hashtags In Your IG Stories
Another way to get your content discovered - Instagram Stories! Did you know that the most popular hashtags have their own Instagram Stories attached to them? You’re already creating content for your Instagram Stories, you might as well give it every chance you can to get viewed. When users search for the hashtag on Instagram, they will be able to view an active, real time Instagram Story on the hashtag! Hashtag stories show up across the top bar of the hashtag page along with the new follow button. Add them to your stories by typing them in or using the hashtag sticker!
You can use up to 10 hashtags in an Instagram Story. If you don’t want your stories looking spammy with hashtags, hide them under GIFs and stickers! This way, they are still searchable without being too “in-your-face”.
5. Curate Content With Hashtags
On the days where you just don’t know what to post (we’ve totally been there!), hashtags are there to save the day! Serving up endless inspiration, searching hashtags will give you an infinite amount of content to repost in your feed or give you new ideas on how to present your brand / product to your followers. By strategically sourcing your content through hashtags, it will give you access to other users feeds that you might not normally come across.
Make sure you always credit the original post. This will allow the user to see that you shared your photo and give them the option to comment or engage getting even more eyeballs on your post. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
Alright, now that you know how to use hashtags to grow your community, it’s crucial to make sure you have the right ones! These hashtag guides were curated to specific industries and were recently updated so that you have everything you need at your fingertips!
Jordan Strohl is writer, social media consultant and the digital content manager for Small Talk Social. Focusing on millennial targeted brands and websites, Jordan has spearheaded initiatives to improve visuals and maximize audiences through the power of social media. She’s also obsessed with matcha tea, her puppy, Piper, and figuring out the ending to crime shows she’s already seen.
Follow her daily adventures on Instagram here.