Let's Talk Hashtags!
Let’s talk hashtags. I tell you what, my 18 year old self is currently cringing at the fact that I now at the age of 33, am totally geeking out over hashtags and algorithms… but this stuff is addictive. To me anyway!
Now I know a lot of small businesses find this sort of thing painful and frustrating, so I am going to try and shed some light on the rumour mill that is currently going around about hashtags.
I have been reading and researching and talking to people in my industry and the advise is conflicting! No wonder most people are confused. Some of the latest information is to use only 5 hashtags otherwise your reach is affected and if you use the same hashtags you can run the risk of getting shadow banned. The other hot topic is WHERE is best to put your hashtags! Some say the first comment, and others say it needs to go into the caption. Honestly as if running your own business isn’t stressful enough!
So let’s go through each of these theories and I’ll share my opinion with you.
1. How many hashtags should you be using?
I personally use between 20-30 hashtags for my posts, the trick is you need to be using relevant hashtags. Consider your industry and your target audience. Will your target audience be searching for the hashtags that you have used? Are your hashtags aligned with your business? And most importantly use niche hashtags. What I mean by that is niche down to your product/ service, that way you will come up in those hashtags when someone searches for it. Don’t use too many generic and hugely popular hashtags as you’ll end up with those pesky bots who follow and unfollow you!
2. Where should you put your hashtags? In the caption or in the first comment?
I have personally tested this on my own account, and I haven’t found much of a difference in engagement no matter where I place the hashtags. I prefer putting my hashtag set in the first comment. Or you can mix it up, put 1-3 hashtags that is highly relevant to your post in the caption, and then the rest of your hashtags can go in the first comment if you wish.
3. Shadow banning
I am still not convinced on the old shadow ban… to me personally it’s one of those things that you always hear about, yet I’ve never met anyone who its happened too. Kind of like an urban myth. There are many accounts that think they have been shadow banned, yet they could be using ‘broken/ banned’ hashtags or they’re not understanding what their target audience wants to see. As long as you are not acting like a bot on Instagram you should be fine. Don’t use the same hashtag set for months on end with no changes, don’t go on a major following/ unfollowing frenzy (more bot like behaviour). Do not buy fake followers and likes, and do not pay for bot programs that like or comment on your behalf. Instagram needs some way of telling the real users apart from the bots, so the more authentic you are, the less likely any issues should arise. When it comes to using hashtag sets, my rule of thumb is to change at least 5-10 hashtags per post. I use the PLANN app to save my hashtags sets which makes life so much easier!
For instance, I have hashtag sets for “Biz quotes”, “Women in Biz”, “Instagram tips” etc. And when I copy and paste those to my post, I will always change min 5 of the hashtags which are usually my niche tags and super relevant to the actual post.
4. Follow hashtags
It’s such a cool feature that Instagram has brought out, and you should be taking full advantage of it. Think about who your client is, and what hashtags your client would use. Find a prospective client on Instagram and have a look at what hashtags they use! Then follow those hashtags, because this will open up a world of new potential clients.
My advise to you is to TEST these theories on your own account, look at your account and see what is and isn’t working. Doing a mini audit yourself is essential to gain some clarity in what is and isn’t working for your account.
Thank you for reading and feel free to comment below and let me know if you found this blog helpful!