Instagram hashtags are like the index of a book. You know that bit at the back where hundreds of pages have been categorised so if you only want to read about Mary Queen of Scots you can find it quickly. Well, hashtags on Instagram work the same way. They tell Instagram users what your content is about and are a mechanism to help them find it.
So, what are the five best ways to use hashtags in Instagram right now?
Go niche and be real
Your hashtags needs to really reflect your post’s content rather than what’s popular. Don’t force your post into the popular #throwbackthursday if you’re writing about the present but it happens to be Thursday. It looks fake and a bit desperate. If based on your content, your niche is #englishcivilwararmour – then it just is. Work with that. Just do a quick bit of research to make sure your niche hashtag is what you think it is. I have lost count how many times a history-related hashtag is actually for a TV program.
Balance big and small
It’s always changing but current thinking is to aim for 15 hashtags per post. When you are choosing which ones to use balance the big with the small. Always have 1-2 big hashtags like #history but half of your hashtags should be in the 500-5000 posts category with the rest between 5000 -100,000 posts. If you start to pick up momentum in the smaller hashtags, the Instagram algorithm will notice. If you just use the big ones you’ll get lost amongst the millions.
Get known in a hashtag
It’s good to mingle amongst your followers. But, you also want to try to become the top performer in a hashtag. Start using the same hashtags for a while and actively interact with people there. Because these are your people. They’re looking at and using the same hashtags as you. You’re more likely to find new followers and people to chat too.
Search and check out similar accounts
A hashtag search will inevitably bring up accounts similar to your topic. In one handy place, you can go into these posts, especially those at the top, and see which hashtags they’re using. What seems to be performing? People, with a large following, have probably been at it for a while and blazed the trail on hashtags as it were.
Create and monitor a list
Hashtags can be confusing and time-consuming if you’re thinking of them for every post and trying to remember if #tudors or #thetudors or #thetudordynasty was the best performer last time : (
Create a list in a notebook of large, medium and small hashtags related to your topic down the left side. On the other side, leave enough room to make notes about your performance in it over time, whether it needs to be deleted? Whether it’s grown etc? To complement this, you can also create a note on your phone with blocks of hashtags ready to copy, paste and where necessary edit, into your Instagram post.
And a bonus…
You know I’ll always leave you with a bonus tip! : ) If you’re using Instagram Stories. Add your hashtags first. Not too many. Then create a graphic, like a love-heart, and widen it to sit over the top. That way, you get a cleaner image but still the hashtag.
I know to some this all sounds a bit overly detailed. But, the way I see it, you’ve spent ages curating the perfect image and caption so getting down in the weeds with hashtags is a way to maximise the chances of more people seeing and interacting with your fabulous posts.
As always, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below or you can find me on Instagram @elizabeth_britpolitics or on Twitter @_Britpolitcs.