Hashtags are probably the most loved and hated part of Instagram at the same time. When they work, they can get your posts out to more people but when they don't, you just spent a few hours researching them without any result. In this article, you will get the answers to all of your hashtag questions & learn how to make them work for you.
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What are hashtags? And why do we use them?
Hashtags are in general a way to categorise things.
Example: If you have a blog with different topics, you can mark each blog post with a different hashtag depending on its topic. This makes it easier for people to find a specific topic.
And that is exactly the same with hashtags on Instagram!
Hashtags are just a way to help categorise your posts to help the algorithm to show your post to the right people.
Let's look at how the algorithm works:
I open my app and watch some videos about dogs. I might even follow a few new dog accounts. This sends a signal to the algorithm that I enjoy dog content.
On the other side, there is someone who posts a photo of their dog and they use the hashtag #dogsofinstagram. That then sends a signal to the algorithm that that post is about dogs.
What the algorithm does the next time I open the app is it matches these two signals together. This is why I like to think of the algorithm as a matchmaker.
Whenever you open the app and interact with different posts, you are sending signals to the algorithm about the things you enjoy and would like to see more of. It then tries to show you more of these things to keep you on the platform for longer. To be able to determine whether something would be of interest to you, the algorithm uses different tools like artificial intelligence or hashtags - it basically "reads" the image, caption, hashtags, etc.
Where do we use hashtags?
We use hashtags on different social media platforms but especially on Instagram, Twitter, and on LinkedIn. We don't really use them on Facebook unless we want to highlight a specific word but we don't use them on Facebook for search purposes.
On Instagram, you can use hashtags on every one of your feed posts (carousels, photos, videos, reels...) but there is no point in using hashtags in your stories unless again it's to highlight something. You can either use them in your caption or in the comments - there is no difference in terms of reach BUT when you use them in the caption, people can find your posts when they look for related keywords. Extra exposure? Yes, please!
How can we make hashtags work for us?
Before I give you my top 3 tips for hashtags, you need to understand one very important thing:
Hashtags work like amplifiers. They start working when your post gets great engagement, not the other way around.
Don't rely on hashtags entirely. They are a nice extra when they do work but they won't make or break your social media success. Your content does.
1) Do your hashtag research:
Find out which hashtags fit the best with your account size and the average engagement you get. Store them in one place for easy access. You can try my free hashtag list template or use an advanced tool called Flick.
2) Don't use hashtags that are irrelevant to your post:
This will only confuse the algorithm and it's not going to show your post to the right people which then is going to give you less engagement. Use hashtags that have something to do with the post.
Some people say they have had great results with 8-15 hashtags, some others say they used 30 and then others again say they see the best results with 3-5, so try an experiment for a little while with what works best for your account.
Good luck with your hashtags!