Guest blog by Victoria Lofthouse from Excel Virtual Assistance
Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags!
I know that lots of people are completely confused when it comes to using Instagram to its full potential. It can feel difficult to be seen and hard to create a community. You can be throwing out the same old hashtags over and over again and nothing seems to stick!
In simple terms, adding hashtags to words or phrases on social media platforms such as Instagram instantly makes that word or phrase a searchable link.
They allow you and others to be visible, research a particular type of post or just get involved in a particular topic or discussion.
So if you feel like you’re not using Instagram to its full potential or you are attracting the wrong type of engagement then let’s look at what you can do about it!
1. Use relevant hashtags
When you are adding hashtags to your posts you want to ensure that they are relevant to:
Using hashtags that are relevant to your posts will help them become searchable in the right way. There is no point spending time creating beautiful images to not give any thought to which hashtags are going to accompany that post, think about your post as a whole!
2. Create your own hashtags
Now, depending on your strategy, you may want to start creating your own hashtags. So, for example, you may want to use a hashtag followed by your business name or if you are running a competition – you may want to use a unique hashtag to see who has entered and what they are saying about the
3. Do your research
Now, this is a biggie!
And one that can quickly end in disaster if you don’t!
You want to spend some time researching and creating lists of hashtags, you need to ensure that the hashtags are being used in the way that you intend – in short, you want to make sure that they are not being used for anything that would harm your brand.
Researching topic specific hashtags takes time, and that’s if you don’t get sucked into scrolling through your feed – or even know where to start!
But, research is essential if you want to increase your following, build a community, oh and not make a rookie error that could harm your business!
4. Use a variety
Using only high traffic hashtags is a mistake that lots of people make when they first start out on Instagram. You see, those high traffic hashtags will generate a few extra followers or comments on your posts but in the long run, they are not good for several reasons:
Posts with only high traffic hashtags disappear very quickly
You will encourage the wrong sort of engagement from bots, unfortunately, there has been an increase lately of bot activity on Instagram – you will see them comment using just an emoji or a comment that has no relevance whatsoever to your post.
By using a variety of hashtags with varying traffic you are ensuring a good mix of people are seeing your posts or finding them easier to search when using relevant hashtags.
You can use up to 30 hashtags currently per post on Instagram (this is a limit, not a target to be reached – just because you can doesn’t mean you should) and switching up the hashtags that you use can really help with engagement and reaching the right sort of people!
The Instagram algorithm seems to view the use of the same old hashtags as an indicator of spam and this can cause a decline in your organic reach and interaction.
5. Only use trending hashtags if they are relevant to your post or biz
Now we all see those trending hashtags appear in our newsfeeds whether on Instagram or Twitter and there is a real temptation to use them, especially if they are extremely popular!
However, using them if they are not relevant to your biz or post can be seen as spammy not just by the algorithm but also by your followers or people that are using the hashtag to genuinely get involved in a particular topic or discussion!
If you can make that hashtag work for your business in context then that’s great and by all means, use it to get involved.
6. Network with others
You can also use hashtags to network and interact with others, find people and business profiles that you would love to interact with and then spend 10 minutes a day doing that. This also works particularly well on Twitter!
7. Get Specific
Including super specific hashtags in your posts is a great idea, especially if you are trying to build a name for yourself in a certain niche or if it is in your marketing strategy to build a community or be seen in your local area.
For example, if you own a fabulous floristry business you may want to use the hashtag #florists but also think about adding in area specific ones. #floristsofnottingham, for example, will have a lot less traffic than the generic #florist hashtag so there is more chance of being seen!
Likewise, if you are a wedding photographer – you may want to use the hashtag of wedding venues that you have taken pictures at previously. Any brides to be searching for a potential wedding venue will see your beautiful images and hey presto – may just become a client of yours!
In short, hashtags can be an amazing tool when used correctly – why not try mixing it up a bit and see what results it brings to your engagement.
About Victoria Lofthouse
Hi, I’m Victoria, founder of Excel Virtual Assistance, and I provide a range of virtual business support services that enable busy business people like you to save time, save money and reach their goals faster.
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