Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Unpopular opinion time: Hashtags are one of the most underrated Instagram growth tools we all have access to.
There. We said it. And more importantly, we believe it because we’ve seen hashtags drive massive results for our clients and even our personal Instagram accounts.
Before you go rolling your eyes, hear us out:
They’re 100% free to use
They have the potential to grow your following hundreds to thousands a month
They allow you to reach and attract very niche, targeted leads
They take under 10 seconds to use, then do all the heavy lifting for you
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But here’s the catch, and why we think the topic of hashtags turns many off–– they’re confusing af to use properly. You could easily get lost if you make your way far enough down the rabbit hole of hashtag education. It’s like one source tells you one way of using them, while another suggests a complete opposite method. Before you know it you’re back to that *facepalm* feeling.
So how do you use these magical little pound signs effectively? WE'VE GOT YOU.
There are a few tried & tested ways to go about hashtags on Instagram, and we’ve seen consistent success with the help of a few digital tools. We recorded a Screen-share (otherwise known as Brydge Hacks #102) to show you one tool in particular that’s super helpful–– DisplayPurposes.com. It shows other relevant tags, leaves out spammy tags, and maps out how hashtags are connected. And today we’re breaking it down for you.
Use up to 30 hashtags that are relative + ranked well (done & done for you when you enter just a few relevant hashtags into the main search!)
Include audience specific, visual reference specific, and geographical specific hashtags
Use 5 periods before the 30 hashtags & insert in comments, not caption
You’re probably aware that you can use up to 30 hashtags. The question is, how do you optimize your hashtag choice?
We suggest a mix of overt + covert hashtags––
Covert Hashtags: Hashtags meant to show up in search results & placed in the first comment with five periods above them. It’s ideal to ensure you post the first comment with covert hashtags immediately (within 10 seconds) after your post is live.
For your hashtag selection, consider the audience you’re looking to reach and the hashtags they’re searching. For instance, someone we’d like to find value in our content at Brydge may search the hashtag #growyourbrand like we used in the video. Or let’s say you’re an elopement photographer - someone searching for #elopementphotography may very well find you among 150K other posts. An audience of this size versus a hashtag that has over 1M followers will likely be of greater benefit to you because you have a better chance of climbing up to the “top posts” when gaining traction with a smaller, engaged audience. In other words, whisper to your tribe instead of shouting to the masses.
We also suggest your hashtags make direct references that are relative to the visual itself. For example, in the screenshare video you saw we also included the hashtag #marketingtips - a direct reference to what our video post is about. If you were to share a photo of a hair product that you love, you might use #haircareproducts. And if it’s simply a dope sunset photo you’re sharing, then #sunsetvibes is 100% valid to use (and you may even make your way to the top pretty quickly... there’s only 225K people hanging out over there, which, *hint hint*, is still considered a niche hashtag that you can make your way to the top of in search results… if you do it right).
If your ideal audience is local, be sure to use geographical hashtags. We used #chicagogram, for example. This will allow you to optimize your reach to local eyes who may be interested in your products or services. Our Co-founder, Jessie, was able to scale her lifestyle photography business with the help of local hashtags like #chicagophotographer. Using this strategy, it won’t be long before you’ll have your local audience sliding into your DMs asking for more info about what you have to offer.
Now that you’ve come up with a mix of 30 relevant & specific hashtags with the help of DisplayPurposes.com, you can simply copy and paste them into your first comment. Make sure you do this within the first 10 seconds of publishing your post so that you can optimize your chances of your post showing up closer to the top of the search for each hashtag used.
Oh, and one last thing–– BE RESPONSIVE. The Instagram algorithm does not like when you post & ghost. Only post when you can plan to be active the first hour or so after posting. This way you can interact with all of the new homies who just found you via an Instagram hashtag search, which boosts your engagement and tells Instagram that your content is worthy of being at the top of results.
With these basic tips & the tool we’ve shown you today, we hope we’ve helped to demystify the topic of hashtags. While Instagram marketing is constantly evolving, these methods likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon… so it’s time to finally start optimizing your hashtag strategy and gain the traction you/your business deserves.
That’s it for now, folks…. Until our next post!