Hashtags are part and parcel of a social media manager’s life, but with so much conflicting information, it can be difficult to know what to believe.
In this definitive guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to be brilliant at Instagram hashtags. Plus, we’ll share three ideas on how to offer hashtags as a paid service.
Why should you use hashtags on Instagram?
Hashtags let you categorise your posts so the algorithm understands what the content is about and can therefore show it to more people. They also help your content be discovered by more people who are interested in the hashtag topic.
Get them right, and they can lead to greater engagement, higher reach, follower growth and more customers.
Research suggests that using just one hashtag can increase a post's reach by 12.6%.
Types of Instagram hashtags
There are lots of different types of hashtags and you should mix them up so you get a broad range.
Industry or niche
These are hashtags that relate to your work. For example #SocialMediaManager #SocialMediaExpert #SocialMediaTips
As you might expect, these are hashtags related to your physical location. They can be great for finding and building relationships with local businesses you’d like to work with.
A branded hashtag is a tag that’s specific to you or your client’s business. Ours, for example, is #TheTwoLauras.
As branded hashtags are unique to you they’re a great way of tracking mentions across Instagram. Make sure you follow your own branded hashtag.
Inspirational hashtags are still really popular on Instagram. They send out a message about your brand values and connect you with like-minded people.
Some of the inspirational hashtags we use include #CommunityOverCompetition and #DesignALifeYouLove
Seasonal & awareness
Seasonal and awareness day hashtags are a great way to get involved in timely events throughout the year.
Campaign hashtags can be used to create a buzz around a campaign or challenge you or your client is running. Followers are encouraged to get involved and use the hashtag too.
Our own challenge hashtag, #MeetTheSocialPro, has been used hundreds of times by social media managers to promote their businesses and services.
How to find the right hashtags
Hashtag research is an important part of your role as a social media manager and can make a huge difference in the success of your client’s content.
So where do you start when it comes to hashtag hunting?
First off, make a list of industry or niche keywords and look them up on Instagram.
Avoid any hashtags that have already been used more than 1m times or less than a thousand times. Find similar or related hashtags in the ‘tag’ tab and repeat the process.
Do this for each of the different hashtag types listed above.
The next step is to look at the hashtags your competitors, ideal clients and relevant influencers use.
You should also look at the hashtags they’re following, as this will give you a good idea of the keywords that are important to them.
Make sure you mix big and small hashtags and never just cut and paste the same set for every post.
It’s important you mix your hashtags up and always include some which are directly linked to the content you’re posting.
How to know what’s working
Instagram’s own insights aren’t great when it comes to hashtags but you can get an overview of how many new people have found your content by clicking on the post’s ‘View Insights’ and scrolling down to the Discovery section.
For a more detailed analysis, you’ll need to invest in tools to help you.
Captions or comments?
In August 2021, the Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, ended an age-old debate by revealing that hashtags should be included in the caption and not the first comment.
In his blog, he said, ‘For a post to be found in Search, put keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments.’
It's what we've always recommended, but thank goodness that one’s finally sorted!
How many to use?
This is the million-dollar question and another hotly debated topic in social media circles.
Some people claim that using between 5 to 11 hashtags is best.
Our view? You get 30, use 30. Just make sure they’re relevant to your post and target audience.
Where to put your Instagram hashtags
You can include up to 30 hashtags in your grid posts, Reels and IGTV.
A final note on accessibility
Make your hashtags accessible to an audience of up to two million blind and visually impaired people in the UK by using camel text.
Camel text is when you capitalise the first letter of each word in your hashtag #LikeThis. This makes it easier for screen readers to read aloud.
How to offer hashtags as a service:
- Hashtag research
- Host a hashtag workshop
- Quarterly hashtag audit and refresh
For more tips and advice, join our free Facebook group, The Social Media Manager’s Hub.