Want to increase your Instagram followers but no idea where to start? With over 500 million active users on Instagram every day, you’ll need to use every tool at your disposal if you want to stand out from the crowd. One of the most important tools in the digital marketing box is hashtags. And with Instagrammers now able to follow specific hashtags – whether that’s #digitalmarketing, #unicorns or anything in between – it’s even more important to find those killer tags and ensure you get your content in front of people, even if they don’t follow you already. But which hashtags to use, how often, how many and where do you include them on your post? Follow our top 10 tips for success…
The best Instagram hashtags in terms of engagement and likes will always be the ones that users are searching for most frequently. Take a look at the current top 50 hashtags and you’ll see that generic tags like #photooftheday, #love and #instagood regularly attract high numbers of engagement. Used sparingly and in context, these universally popular tags can definitely help boost your reach: #competition or #giveaway are both good ones, as are #instamood or #nofilter. Remember: do keep it relevant and always remember to link it directly back to you or your brand: a photo of a beautiful bunch of flowers sent by a happy customer, for example, with the hashtag #picoftheday or #instamood. Don’t overuse them or use the same generic tags repeatedly…more on that later.
As well as getting familiar with community hashtags like #instafood or #picoftheday, start trying out themed hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday, #MotivationMonday or #TeamMonday (accompanied by a pic of the Monday morning office coffee run). If you’re looking for inspiration, try this list of suggested hashtags for every day of the week. Trending hashtags are another good way of tapping into what’s popular at any given moment and might provide you with some additional ideas. But remember, you’ll need to be quick if you want to capture those sort of audiences. And again, make sure you can tie it in readily to your product or service. There’s no point jumping on the #BakeOff bandwagon if your product is microwaveable ready-meals (even if they are extremely tasty).
If staying on top of daily trends sounds too much like hard work, try piggybacking topics that are already attracting high levels of engagement but might not have an immediate connection with your brand, like national holidays or awareness days. This hashtag holidays calendar is a great tool for helping you plan ahead, and the best bit of all is that whether you’re raising awareness for International Day of Peace or celebrating with National Ninja Day (5 December, for anyone interested), there will always be something relevant to you.
Popular hashtags will deliver more engagement and likes but if you really want to secure long term engagement and quality new followers, you need to find relevant hashtags that actually reflect your business and the content you are posting. Instagram has its own search function which is a good starting point. Just type a keyword that’s relevant to your brand into the search bar and select the ‘Tags’ tab. Instagram will give you a list of all the popular hashtags associated with that keyword, as well as a number of posts that are tagged with it. In addition to Instagram’s own search function, there are some great Instagram tools out there, so spend some time experimenting to see which one works best for you. Display Purpose and AutoHash both allow you to type a couple of hashtags into the search box before producing a list of relevant tags with any banned or spammy tags helpfully filtered out. TagBlender is another great Instagram hashtag generator tool that enables you to generate the perfect set of Instagram tags from various different fields like ‘People’, ‘Urban’, ‘Fashion’ or ‘Art’. The tool is simple to use, and best of all, it’s totally free.
Another obvious source is to have a look at what your closest competitors are doing. Check out some Instagram accounts in a similar industry that have the kind of following you aspire to and see what hashtags they use. Do they apply to your business and how can you make them relevant to you? What about people influential in your field? What hashtags do they use and could you adopt the same ones?
Geotags – tags that mention a specific place or location – are a great way of getting in front of local users. On average, posts with a location can earn up to 79% more engagement than posts without. If your restaurant is in Bath, for example, then tag the location in your post so that people searching and following #Bath,Somerset for example, can find and see your post on Bath, Somerset’s own Instagram feed. Location tagging and hashtags are just as relevant should you decide to delve into the world of Instagram Stories, because these are also now searchable by location and hashtag using the sticker option. Just like ordinary Instagram posts, the beauty of geotagging your Stories is that anyone will be able to see them, not just your own followers.
The Instagram limit is 30 hashtags per post and, although Instagram users don’t appear to suffer from hashtag fatigue in the same way they do on Facebook and Twitter, somewhere between 5 and 10 seems to be widely recognised as the optimum number for maximising engagement. Don’t be tempted to go way over this and include too many hashtags in the hope of getting greater visibility. This could backfire and end up with your account being shadowbanned. And don’t go overboard on the captions either – stick to 138-150 characters and use them to give your image context and compel users to really engage with you.
The general consensus is that it’s better to keep your audience focused on your image and caption by tucking your hashtags away in a comment after your post has been published – once your post starts to receive a few comments, it won’t be visible unless users select the ‘view all comments’ button. Another option is to hide your tags in the caption by repeatedly entering a bullet ‘•’ or a dash ‘– ’ and hitting return a few times. Instagram hides captions after three lines so your tags won’t be visible unless followers select the ‘more’ option on your post. This is also a good way of going back and adding hashtags to a post after it’s been published.
Remember, whatever hashtags you end up using, don’t get into the habit of including a long list of repetitive or irrelevant hashtags that don’t apply to your brand. Your followers will just switch off – or worse, they could flag up your posts to Instagram as being content they don’t want to see. The ‘Don’t Show for This Hashtag’ option is meant to tell Instagram’s algorithm what sort of content a user is enjoying, but having too many of your posts marked in this way could raise a red flag on your account and negatively affect all of your other content – meaning your posts could be shown less often, or not at all. And remember, no matter how popular they are, hashtags such as #like4like, #followme and #tags4likes are seldom a good idea. It could attract spammers, or people looking to inflate their own follower count and who have no genuine intention of engaging with you or brand in a meaningful way.
Finally, make sure you track your hashtags and keep a record of how effective they are. If you have an Instagram Business Profile, then you can access post insights to tell you how many impressions you are receiving from your hashtags. Just select the post you want data on, tap ‘View Insights’ below the post on the left and then swipe up to see all the insights for that post, including the number of impressions from hashtags. Once you’ve started to compile a list of the tags that are working for you, a good tip is to cut and paste them into a note which you can then use every time you post, saving you time – just select the hashtags you want to use and copy and paste them into the comments below your caption.
Do you have any tips for growing your Instagram followers that we’ve missed? Leave a comment on our Facebook or Twitter page and share your ideas with us. Or if you need help with your Instagram account or any other aspect of social media or digital marketing, then get in touch by commenting below or contacting us via any of the links at the bottom of this page!