Hashtags are a little bit of a mystery, so it is no wonder we see so many people getting scared away from getting started. Most users who want to grow their Instagram account know that hashtags can be helpful, but often they don’t know exactly why, which causes them to make common hashtag mistakes which could actually hinder account growth.
How to get Started With Hashtags (From Scratch!)
Whilst there is a lot of strategy that you can involve when utilizing hashtags on your account, there are some simple changes you can make when you are first getting started. You don’t have to implement a complex strategy from day one – first, you can get to know the basics and become more familiar with hashtags.
Why hashtags? #️⃣
Put simply, hashtags can help increase your discoverability on Instagram, putting your content in front of people who wouldn’t have otherwise seen it. When you use a hashtag, you are letting people know what your post is about, and more importantly, you are letting Instagram know what your post is about. If your post performs well and you are lucky enough to ‘rank’ on a hashtag, this means that when someone searches for the hashtag you’ve ranked on, your post will be one of the first ones they see.
Hashtags also help Instagram put forward content on users’ Explore pages that they might be interested in, based on their existing interests and the types of content they respond to, or the people they already follow.
So, if you rank on a hashtag that matches your content, your post is likely to be seen by 40% more people than it would have been had you not used or ranked on any hashtags. The goal therefore is to use the right hashtags, to make sure that you rank!
How do you know which hashtags are the right hashtags? 🤔
This is the question that you should be asking when you are first starting out using hashtags. There are a number of different ways to make sure the hashtags you use are ‘right’ for your account and are likely to help you grow.
#1) They match your niche
Hashtags are Instagram’s way of searching for content on the platform, and usually people will make searches based on their interests. It is unlikely that they will interact with a post that doesn’t match what they have searched for, so irrelevant posts won’t rank on hashtags. When you search for hashtags to use on your content, consider this. Look for hashtags that are descriptive of the content you are posting, or the general niche that you are in.
For example, when we spoke to @foodjunkie_uk she told us that her strategy largely involved picking hashtags that matched the niches she was in such as food, cooking or recipes. She would search for hashtags that were relevant to this type of content, as well as the dish or food item she was featuring. This helped to put the content she was producing in front of people who actively wanted to see it.
#2) Consider popularity
The second, and probably most important thing to consider when you are just getting started with hashtags, is how popular or competitive they are. Due to the amount of times users post in generic hashtags like #food, #fashion or #music every day, they are all very competitive and hard to rank on. So, it is important that you opt for hashtags that are less competitive for your account.
Ranking on a hashtag is largely based on the engagement you get on a post, so someone with 10k followers will be likely to rank on different hashtags compared to someone with 1m followers. By using Flick, we can connect to your Instagram account, and apply Smart Filters to your hashtag searches, which allows us to only suggest hashtags that match your account. More on that here.
Factors that determine how competitive a hashtag is include: the average engagement that top posts using the hashtag have, the number of times people post into that hashtag a day, the number of total posts within that hashtag already, and the general size of the accounts that are using/posting in the hashtag. These are metrics that are all displayed and considered when suggesting hashtags in our Desktop and Mobile platforms, making it easy to find the hashtags that are likely to provide you with the most organic growth.
#3) Use your location
Another great way to get your content discovered is by using location-based hashtags. If you are a small business for example, you can easily reach new consumers who are looking for your service in their area. Many people opt to look on Instagram when discovering new companies so they can actually visualize their offering, so its a good option if you want to be their first port of call, or the first thing they see. Consider using relevant hashtags and adding in your location, for example: #londoncakeshop.
#4) Avoid banned hashtags
Another rule of thumb for getting started with hashtags is making sure that you aren’t using banned hashtags, because they can actually hurt the health of your account, and mean that your content isn’t being seen by other users. Within Flick, you can scan your selected hashtags using our banned hashtag checker, to see if any you have picked might be banned on Instagram. Another way to check is by manually searching for the hashtag you want to use on Instagram, and looking at the posts. If there are only a few top posts, and you cannot scroll through more content, it is likely that the hashtag is banned.
We hope this helps you on your journey to getting started with hashtags on Instagram, and that you understand how they work a little more. If you want to get started with building out more of a hashtag strategy, take a look at our guide here.