April 19, 2017
Ok, ok, I’m sure that many of you who are using Instagram for business are already using hashtags (the #randomword that you see on posts just in case you’re not familiar with the terminology), but it’s important that you have a strategy around how to use it if you actually want hashtags to work well for you.
An oft-quoted study from Simply Measured found that Instagram posts that contained at least one hashtag had a 12.6% higher engagement rate (keep in mind that this study was from 2014 so this number may have changed. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a more recent study on the impact of hashtags when it comes to Instagram). Higher engagement means that your image, video, or story will get seen by more people and you have a higher chance of converting new followers to your Instagram feed.
While you are allowed up to 30 hashtags on Instagram, more is not necessarily better just like going broad on you topic doesn’t necessarily deliver the best ROI. Let’s talk about this for a minute:
Yes, you can have up 30 hashtags and while hashtags are useful in helping people find your Instagram page (people can search Instagram by searching for specific hashtags), the goal but having that many hashtags on each post may seem overwhelming to your audience. If you’re adding any content to your post it may get lost amongst all those hashtags too which will dilute your messaging. Instead, a study of 1000 brands by TrackMaven found that a post with 4-5 hashtags had 50% more interactions than a post with no hashtags. However, a post with 11+ has just slightly less interactions than the 4-5 hashtags so loading up on hashtags won’t necessarily bring more eyeballs to your Instagram account.
So if you’re only going to use a handful of hashtags, which hashtags should you use? You could go broad with hashtags like #food but chances are that won’t bring you the type of audience you necessarily want. Ideally you’re looking for people who will be interested in what you offer and want to follow your Instagram account. This is where narrowing down to niche hashtags can be helpful. Instead of #food something like #vegancupcakes is a much more tightly defined word and chances are only those who are looking for vegan cupcakes will be checking out those hashtags. This means that if someone does a search for #vegancupcakes and comes across your site, there’s a better chance they’ll stick around and may become followers.
Lastly, by using more specialized hashtags it means you have a higher chance of your post being seen in the first place by searchers. When you use a generic hashtag like #food then your picture/video will be buried underneath a near avalanche of people and companies using the same hashtag. How many people are going to scroll through thousands of pictures to find yours – especially given our ADD culture when it comes to social media! Instead, using hashtags that have a more focused meaning related to your products and your brand, you stand a higher chance of people who search under those phrases actually finding your post which is what you’re hoping for in the first place when it comes to using hashtags effectively.