There aren’t many people that don’t know what a hashtag is, let alone having never heard of them. Hashtags have become such an integral part of organic reach (the number of people who have seen your post through unpaid distribution) on popular social media networks that they can be the difference between your post thriving or flopping.
Despite this though, there are varying degrees to which hashtags on social media platforms are most effective. Whilst they are present on the majority of popular social media networking websites, hashtags are found to be more effective on platforms like Twitter and Instagram when compared to their influence on Facebook and LinkedIn (social media platforms geared more towards paid advertising).
For Instagram in particular, including hashtags in your posts is particularly important for increasing your audience size. It categorises your content for those searching for that particular term. This allows for anyone searching for a term like ‘#cooking’ immediately after you have posted it, to see your post in the most recent photos that have included ‘#cooking’ in their message.
The disadvantage with including such a popular term is that this soon becomes lost in the plethora of photos that include the term ‘#cooking.’ For the purpose of raising awareness of your brand, it means that unless your target audience happen to be searching for that term at that moment, it is highly unlikely they will see it. To avoid this outcome, whilst you should definitely still use popular hashtags that frequently occur, it is important to also include hashtags that are popular but less competitive.
Another aspect of Instagram to consider is including community hashtags. Community hashtags are certain hashtags used by people with a vested interest in a certain industry and, if you can select the right community hashtags pertinent to your post, this can make a huge difference.
The importance of this is making sure these hashtags are directly relevant to your post. If a cooking community hashtag like ‘#cookingram’ is included in a photo caption of a boat, that wouldn’t make any sense. Whereas if the same hashtag is included in a post featuring a plate of food, then this would be relevant.
Unlike Twitter, Instagram is less restricted by the number of hashtags you can use. That’s not to say you should flood your posts with as many hashtags and not provide anything of substance in your message. If that is the approach you do take then people will switch off and not engage. On Instagram, you can select as many hashtags as you want but should bear in mind that there is a limit of 30 hashtags for any one post. Using more than 30 hashtags on Instagram will result in the additional hashtags not working correctly and your image not appearing to users searching for those topics.
The key to including hashtags relevant to the content you’re posting is by doing your research and selecting the hashtags that you think are likely to get your posts in front of the right people. If you are aware of any similar businesses in your industry who have a strong following on Instagram then the likelihood is that they achieved this using certain hashtags.
Unsure about whether your business would benefit from a presence on Instagram? Already have an Instagram profile but require assistance? We can provide a free audit to review your current social media presence and establish how we can help, be it through training or management of your company’s social media profiles. Please email us at email@example.com for a free consultation today.