You know hashtags are important in Instagram, and you keep on putting off researching them. Let’s cover the basics here so you’re good to go! (And if you need more tips, there’s a free hashtag booklet at the end!)
What is a hashtag, anyway?
Yup, starting from scratch. A hashtag is a word with a pound sign in front of it, like #love, found in public posts. These can help new readers find your work and also help you find posts to engage with.
When you search a hashtag in Instagram, you’ll be shown the Top Nine – the nine most engaged posts in a ~24 hour period – and the most recent posts in that category.
Your goal, should you choose to accept it, is to try and get in that top nine. It keeps you visible longer, which can get more comments.
They’re not just for you to plug in and ignore
They’re also a great way to search for relevant posts to engage with! And since the most recent posts (say, within 15-20 minutes) might have their posters still online, they might say hi back. (And possibly follow you.) It’s a win-win!
What are the different types of hashtags?
- Location: The place you’re in, city you’re in, what it’s like, time of day (#Seattle, #starbucks, #sunshine, #morning)
- Subject matter: What’s in the photo (#icecream, #nailpolish)
- Keywords: #food, #icecream, #sundae
- Related: Related to who you are and the work you do. Like I’m a food blogger, so I could use #foodblogger or #foodreview.
- Branded: Something a blogger or group uses, such as #weareknitters or #eeeeeats. Used for getting promoted on the creator’s feed.
- Clickbait. Hashtags that aren’t related to your post, like using #watch in a post about ice cream that has no watch in the photo. Don’t do this; you’ll look super fake.
Where do I place hashtags?
There are three popular places to put hashtags:
- At the end of a post. Where they’ll be spotted by every reader.
- As your first comment. Where you can ‘hide’ the hashtag pile if you want your post to look more sleek.
- Within the post. For when you might be promoting someone or something.
I’m team First Comment, because then I can plug and chug, but for sponsored posts those #spon/#ad hashtags really should be in that post somewhere.
Here’s one method to search for hashtags (the booklet has two):
- Pick some keywords
- See how many public posts are related to keywords
- Use the ones right for you
Here are some of mine:
When I search for chocolate, I get:
- #chocolate – 45 M posts (way too big)
- #chocolatelover – 757K posts (might work for me at 10K followers, because I know from past tests)
- #chocolatebar – 220K posts (really good size for me – bit big for smaller accounts, but will work)
- #chocolatey – 48K posts (great size for smaller accounts!)
What’s a good hashtag size for me?
If you have under 5,000 followers, go for hashtags with 200K or less public posts. That doesn’t mean you can’t use “big” hashtags, it’s that they’re not great to rely on. You’ll get lost in a sea of posts, and you likely won’t rank in the top nine.
How many hashtags should I use in a post?
I personally post 28-30 hashtags in a post. Why not use all the options you can?
A note on “good” hashtags:
There will be some in the right size, but not the right content. As in, a section with a food-related hashtag could be focused on modeling in the posts. (And, to be honest, a lot of the larger food-related hashtags can have porn in them. Don’t… don’t search them at the office.)
So, how to check? Look over the top and recent posts for that hashtag. If it feels wrong for your content, don’t use it. Simple as that!
Need more info? Get your Instagram 101 booklet here! (Yes, it’ll ask you if you want to sign up for the Instagram mailing list. But hey, that means more Instagram tips in your inbox, so that’s not a bad thing!)