Whether people like to admit it, or not social media has changed the way we do business and communicate with one another. We live, eat and breathe social media these days. One of the key ways we connect with people is through social media and the hashtag sign has made this easier. So, what’s the hullabaloo about hashtags anyway? Just in case there's anyone that has been living under a rock the past few years, let me break it down. A hashtag is a word or group of words after a # sign (known as a pound key on mobile phones and looks like a mini tic-tac-toe).
Hashtags got their start on Twitter as a way of making it easier for people to find, follow and contribute to a conversation. They've become an insanely popular way of filtering conversation and categorizing content on social media, allowing us to engage and interact with other social media users based on a common theme or interest. They make content more easily discoverable, allowing us to find relevant content from other people and businesses. Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to individual or group success on social media. Businesses can use hashtags to reach their target audience and likewise make it easier for people to find information they may be searching for.
So, how to create a hashtag? A hashtag can be a single word, an abbreviation, a combination of letters and numbers, or even a phrase. There shouldn't be punctuation or symbols in a hashtag, although numbers are alright (there being at least one letter with the numbers), and all the letters and numbers must run together without spaces. If the hashtag is a phrase, there should also be no spaces between the words (for example, #hashtagsarecool, #hashtag, #10waystousehashtags).
If you search for any hashtag on Instagram, you will notice that the search results are typically displayed in two sections; top posts and recent posts. The recent posts section shows the recent pictures tagged with that hashtag while the top posts section shows the most popular posts tagged with that specific hashtag. Posts that make it to the top posts section usually remain there longer than those in the recent posts section. This gets you more post views and ultimately more followers.
So how do you get your content to the top posts sections? Here are some of my tips for getting quality engagement and to gain more followers on Instagram.
Engaging Through Comments
Always include a call to action in the caption of your posts and ensure your post is getting a lot of engagement through comments. More comments increase your chances of appearing in the top posts section. There is a general misconception that only the biggest accounts can achieve this - FALSE! I have only about 1000 followers on Instagram but have appeared in top posts several times.
Know Your Target Audience
Instagram is a great way to connect with your target audience and choosing the right hashtags will go a long way in the engagement your content receives and the amount of users that visit your feed. To be successful on Instagram you need to always have your audience in mind. As a lifestyle blogger, I post about different things from fashion, interior décor, family and inspirational stuff and I tailor my hashtags to fit these different categories. I find that the followers I get are almost always related to the kind of posts I put up, so I know my hashtags are reaching the right people.
Avoid Overly Popular Hashtags & Words
I usually say don’t use a hashtag that has over 2 million tags. When you add your photos, it may appear for a few minutes then it disappears with 100s of post that are added to the hashtag. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule as you can use a hashtag that has millions of tags and still make it to top posts. Also avoid using popular or generic words like love, Friday, happy as this can get your post shadow banned (click here to see a list of words that can get your post shadow banned). Be sure to switch up your hashtags, do not use the same set of hashtags for every post.
Do you know you can follow Hashtags on Instagram? By following hashtags, you are connecting to thousands of people without necessarily having to follow the individual account. When you follow the hashtag the most popular posts will appear in your feed, this is a great way to discover new accounts to follow and also learn what makes these posts appear on top.
Piggyback Proven Hashtags
Yea, so I know you have always been told not to copy other people’s work- not in this case buddy! Here’s a little secret of mine; I follow a lot of bloggers and I see a lot of them appearing in the top feeds (hey! they must be doing something right). I check out the Hashtags they use, copy them to my notes and pick the ones relevant to my own posts to use. (voila!). Piggybacking on the hashtag research of others can be a quick shortcut.
No one should underestimate the power of this little # sign. Hashtags are lots of fun and learning to use them in social media communication, especially as a business owner, blogger and/or marketer is highly recommended.
Do you think hashtags have been relevant in social media? Have they helped you or your business in anyway? Got any cool examples? Please sound off below.