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People ask me all the time, “Why would I need hashtags on Instagram, and 30, that seems a little over the top?” And I have to be honest, I love answering this question and at the same time I wonder to myself, “Why wouldn’t you want to use hashtags on Instagram…and all 30 allowed?”

So, I decided to just tackle this question today with a smile on my face and a coffee (organic) by my side. And I am not going to only tackle this question, I am also going to give you my personal blueprint to using hashtags for success and I couldn’t be more excited! In case you haven’t heard, Instagram is all about the hashtag. Of any social media platform, Instagram has a long love affair with hashtags. And we absolutely love it! Why? Because they are a part of our strategy for every single post we put on Instagram, whether for ourselves or our clients. This is part of our growth hacking strategy and a very important part.

As I have mentioned already, hashtags are so extremely important on Instagram. Why? Because this is a huge way that people find other accounts that may be of interest to them. So when you use hashtags, you are allowing a way for people to be able to find you and in return, will be helping the growth of your account. And guess what is the most amazing thing about this? If people are searching for what you have to offer, that means that they are genuinely interested – so these followers are going to be quality followers…one that we always strive to bring to our clients because these are the ones we want to nurture, build a relationship with, turn into raving fans and therefore people that will turn into clients who will also tell their friends about you. Do you see where this is heading? Are you understanding just how important these can be to your business and brand?

So why do you need to use all 30 then? Why can’t you just use one or two? Well, I am happy to answer this for you as well. The reason is because there are thousands and thousands of hashtags. People have different keywords in the thoughts and vocabulary, different ways of saying things. So you want to have a variety of hashtags, some will be very similar, just different ways of saying things, however, will open up the number of people that will find you. Let me give you a perfect example. I will use my business of social media management. When people search for social media information on Instagram, they use a variety of keywords, they don’t just put in social media and that’s it. They do things like #socialmedia, #socialmediamarketing, #socialmediatips, #instagramtips, #facebooktips, #socialmediastrategy and so on. Are you on my page? Picking up what I’m laying down? You want to make sure that you have every single variance of what people may be looking for so they can easily find you, or increase their chances drastically of finding you.

So, I mentioned at the beginning that I was going to be sharing my blueprint on how to use hashtags.

  • Research, Research, Research. How do you do this? By social listening. Look at your competitors or other social media accounts that are similar to yours. What hashtags are they using? Start making a list. Go beyond 30…don’t just stop there. There’s a reason for this, just trust me. Another way to gather potential keywords (which will become hashtags) is by using Google Keywords or going to Google search and start typing in keywords – when you type in these keywords it will also give you suggestions – write those down. We want a large list of words to choose from so we can pick out the absolute best. Another great tool that I utilize is the app called Tag-O-Matic. When you type in a keyword into this app, it will give you a list of further options related to that word. It is free and fantastic. Try to stay away from very generic words because these are used in extreme and the competition will be in the high thousands, even into the millions for some. Using a couple of generic words is okay, just don’t have all 30 be these type of hashtags. Remember, we want a smart strategy, not just fulfillment of an action.
  • After you have your list of words, go back to Instagram. Now go to the ‘search’ icon. Type in one of your keywords. Here you will see it will give you the number of times that hashtag appears. Take note of that next to the word. Do this with all of your words. Are there words that only have a few hundred, or a few thousand? If so, chances are you don’t want to use that word – or at least you don’t want it to be used in every single post. What words have in between 10,000 and 100,000 uses? Put a start next to these. These will go in your list of 30.
  • If your brand has a theme, chances are you will want to use quite a few of these hashtags in every post. There will be some new ones you may want to add to more specific posts. You will also want to change it up based on the day of the week or holidays – there are certain hashtags that are specific to days that are great to use!
  • Now remember, Instagram is about visual beauty. So, if you think about it, adding a bunch of hashtags to your post can make those posts look sloppy and unprofessional. Because of this we want to put those hashtags into the first comment, not in the actual post. Also, to take it to the next level and make it look even better, you want to have the first five lines of the comment be either a symbol, period, emoji or something and then the hashtag list. This will keep people from seeing your hashtags immediately. After about 4-5 people comment, this entire list of hashtags will disappear from the eyes of your commenters and followers. That is why we put it in the comments.
  • I use my notepad on my phone and have all of the hashtags ready to go and any that may go on a specific day in the same notes off to the side. This way your hashtags – or at least the majority of them will always be ready to go. Once you put up a post, you want to IMMEDIATELY copy and paste your hashtags. You only have a short window to get your post in front of as many people as possible. People are constantly posting so the feed moves fast. Because of this we don’t want to waste any time.

There you go! That is my blueprint to successful hashtagging. Do you have any other suggestions, recommendations, things you have found that work for you? We would love to hear!