How do hashtags help grow your following? Google defines a hashtag as: "A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, to identify digital content on a specific topic." Simply put, hashtags bring people together. Connect with locals in your town by using a hashtag based on your city. Have a favorite brand? Use that brand name as a hashtag and connect with others, who also love that brand! With intention and strategy, you can connect with endless amounts of people using hashtags!
So how do you determine your hashtag strategy? First, you need to know who your target audience is. Once you've narrowed that down, it will be much easier to pick which hashtag you're going to use. Not only that, but each post should have different hashtags. You can use up to 30 hashtags in your post's caption and comments combined. If you're not yet satisfied with your following and engagement, it's recommended to use all 30! The best place to put them, is at the end of your post or in the comments of your post. If you put them in the comments, make sure to put them in within 5 minutes of posting. A hashtag's relevance to your post, is determined by when the post was published, not when the hashtags were added.
Now that you know the "rules", let's talk about how to choose your hashtags. I have a "cheat sheet" that I keep in the notes section of my phone, that helps me choose what hashtags to use. Once you have a photo and caption ready to post, use the cheat sheet to research what hashtags you are going to use.
Hashtag Cheat Sheet:
5 hashtags related your brand
5 hashtags specific to your demographic or location
5 hashtags about the picture
5 popular hashtags (500k +)
5 niche hashtags (-500k)
5 extra hashtags of your choosing
*Note: Never use the same set of 30 hashtags on multiple posts, one after the other. You can switch it up and use them throughout the week, but never copy and paste the same set, one after another. If you do, you may get flagged as spam by the algorithm. Coming up with 30 new hashtags for each post, may seem daunting at first, but it's absolutely worth the extra time.
Here's an example of how impactful your hashtag strategy can be on a post. These insights are from a client's post from last month. This client had less than 500 followers, but through our hashtag strategy, she was able to achieve over 1,200 likes, 43 comments, 67 shares, 41 saves, 9 new followers, and over 16,000+ views!
Now that you know how to properly use your hashtags, let's talk about how to connect with new people, using hashtags. Commenting on other posts can help boost your post and connect you with new people! If I want to connect with locals in my town, I'll search #springhilltn and click the "Recent" tab. This is going to show anyone whose used that hashtag recently. The "Top" tab, will show the most popular posts that have used this hashtag. Choose the "Recent" tab, look for a post that grabs your attention, click the post, and leave a nice comment. After commenting, make sure to go back to that account and like 2-3 of their pictures. I did this 5-10 times a day for 7 days.
After those 7 days, I gained 40 new followers!
Instagram is a place to connect. It's a place to build community. By using 30 different hashtags on each post and engaging with others through comments and likes, you can grow your following immensely!