Hashtags have been a useful tool to create engagement on your Instagram content since 2010 and they are still an effective way to get eyes on your content in 2021. They help increase your audience, improve your engagement rate and build a community around your business. Even using just one hashtag on a post will increase engagement by 12.6%, so it’s worth developing a hashtag strategy for your social media content.
What do Hashtags really do?
Instagram hashtags work by organizing and categorizing photos and videos. Hashtags are used with an intent to discover content, the right hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before. Simply put, It helps make your content more searchable and people also follow hashtags so it will make your content become part of their feed.
How do I find the right hashtags for my content?
This is where people can get tripped up. Yes, you should be using hashtags, but there is a strategy that will help you use the right mix of hashtags to help get more eyes on your content. Knowing how to research hashtags and correctly use them in your social media will boost your brand’s growth.
First, let’s discuss the different types of hashtags:
- Trending Hashtags: These are popular hashtags that are being used by millions of people right now. In digital marketing, value is critical and popular hashtags can generate massive awareness for your brand if users find your content helpful or interesting.
- Branded Hashtags: A branded hashtag is one that is exclusive to your business. Your business name, tagline, or the name of one of your products or promotions can all be used. Brand-specific hashtags make it easy for you to organize and promote content from your company and reach your target customers. You will want to encourage your audience to use these hashtags as well.
- Content Hashtags: Content-reflecting hashtags don’t have to be trending or even popular. They’re not specific to your brand, either. They relate to the content you post.
Here are examples of all three Hashtags in use. Let’s use a post about mascara that is offering tips on its application and removal. We will call the mascara Wink Mascara and their tagline is Bigger, Bolder Lashes. Here are the hashtags that would work after a search for top hashtags for both mascara and lashes:
Trending: #lashesonfleek #lashesfordays #mascaralover
Branded: #winkmascara #biggerbolderlashes
Content: #mascara #mascaratips #mascaraapplication #mascararemoval
Hashtag Ladder Strategy
So now let’s discuss the hashtag formula. Ideally, your posts will have a combination of popular and niche hashtags to reach different audiences, from broad to specific. Social Hustlr, a hashtag generator service, uses the Ladder Strategy to determine the best hashtags to use for your content. They suggest using a combination of hashtags with varying popularity and here is their recommended formula:
5 of Tiny (5-50K) to rank
6 of Small (50-100K) to rank
9 of Medium (100-250K) for exposure
7 of Medium-Big (250-500K) for exposure
2 of Big (500K-1M) for exposure / categorization
1 of Large (1M+) for exposure / categorization
If your account has fewer than 10,000 followers you will want to stay in that Tiny to Medium hashtag formula above (between 10,000 to 500,000) to increase your chances of being listed in the Top or Recent searches. It is harder to achieve this in the Big and Large hashtags as the Top and Recent posts move quickly with content rapidly posted for these items.
Think of hashtags as conversations. It is better to be engaged in conversations that relate most to your brand or organization. Using this Ladder Strategy will help get your content into the search feeds of the audience that is most interested which will also grow your followers.
There is an optimal number of hashtags for each Instagram feature:
- Instagram story: 10
- Reels: 1-10
- Feed post: 30
All #ashtag. Both sites will help guide you through the process of selecting the most relevant and engaging hashtags for your content.