Understanding Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags. They’re the most misused and poorly understood marketing tool on social media, but if you know what you’re doing, they can also be the ticket to small business sales.

If you’ve been marketing on Instagram, you have likely been using hashtags. Unfortunately, the vast majority of marketers don’t use this powerful tool correctly. They destroy most of their hard work by using too many, too few, or the wrong hashtags.

It’s time to learn to use them properly.

Why Hashtags Matter

Hashtags are similar to keywords, making it easier to find specific types of posts on the network. Instagram allows you to click on a hashtag, which then takes you to a page where all the posts with that tag are listed. In the past, these were chronological, below a handful of the top posts, but now the site shows you what is supposed to be most relevant.

Using hashtags lets people find your posts even if they’ve never heard of you, and the more likes you get on a post, the more likely it is to show up in the hashtag feed.

Tips for Using Instagram Hashtags to Boost Traffic

One way to learn to use Instagram effectively is to just go ahead and test different ideas yourself. That can take a while, though, and you’re much better off getting a headstart with these easy tips.

Use 11 or More Hashtags

While the limit of hashtags you can use on one post is 30, most people agree that this is pretty spammy looking. However, extensive testing has shown that adding at least 11 hashtags actually gets you better engagement. Keep those numbers up.

Forget the Hottest Tags

It’s easy to add popular hashtags to your description, but it’s actually a terrible practice. If you are using #cute or #awesome, your traffic probably won’t increase at all. The reason for this is that everyone under the sun is using the same tag, and your post will disappear in a tsunami of #cool posts in a split second, making them all but useless.

Make Your Own Hashtag

Creating your very own hashtag that uses your company or even your niche is a great way to boost visibility. Just make sure you check that it’s not already being used and then come up with your own. As time goes on, you’ll notice other people start using it, as well, but when someone clicks on that tag, they’ll be led to a feed that is almost exclusively yours.

Find Better Hashtags

What makes a good hashtag? It should be something that doesn’t have so much competition that it simply vanishes in seconds. Instead, make sure your posts will show up in that tag’s feed for at least 15 minutes, if not longer. Ideally, you should have a mix of semi-popular tags (those with a million tags) and less popular ones (with a few thousand tags), so that your images are always in a feed somewhere.

Stay Relevant

Don’t use random hashtags to pick up traffic. Even if it gets your post views, they won’t be your target audience. It’s far better to get less traffic, but higher quality, so stick to hashtags that work for your brand.

Don’t Add Tags Later

There are two acceptable methods of adding tags to your post . . . putting them in the caption of the photo or adding them in a comment after you publish. Keep in mind that it’s best to put them in the caption. It used to be common to go back and edit your photo caption and change the tags up to get more views, but this no longer works and is a waste of time. Instead, focus on producing new images that will skyrocket to the popular images’ feed.

Check Your Favorite Hashtag Feeds

Make sure you click on your own hashtags sometimes to see what is going on in those feeds. This can help you stay on top of things and adjust your strategy if needed. In some cases, a perfectly good tag can end up being used by spammers, turning the feed into something you really don’t want to be associated with.

Conclusion

Instagram is great for marketing and boosting small business sales by increasing traffic, but it does have a learning curve. Using hashtags will help you build your audience faster, as long as you do it the right way.

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