Learn to love Instagram hashtags!

Hashtags are funny old things.

In a way, hashtags are the social-media equivalent of standing on a street corner with a sandwich board, shouting LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME! Hashtags – in some people’s opinion – can seem a bit desperate, but we don’t agree.

On the contrary, we think hashtags are a fantastic way to grow your Instagram audience, increase engagement, and connect with like-minded accounts. Basically, they’re your most important tool in Instagram.

In fact, some clever bod worked out that Instagram posts with hashtags tend to reach, on average, 12.6% more people. That’s not to be sniffed at!

Did you know that you can use up to 30 hashtags per comment on each post? That’s right – you can use 30 in your initial caption, then 30 in the next comment, and then 30 in the comment after that. We’re not exactly suggesting you do that, but it’s good to know.

When it comes to hashtags, don’t use them willy-nilly. Take some time to figure out the best hashtags for your audience.

If you’re a West Australian organisation with a West Australian focus, then there’s not a lot of point using international hashtags like #doglife or #cafeculture. Yes, you might reach a few more people, but they won’t be particularly relevant to your organisation.

Instead, spend time and come up with a selection of hashtags that best suit you and your organisation. For instance, #dogsofperth or #thisiswa might be far more relevant to your cause, helping you reach your target audience straight off!

The best way to do this is to stalk your competitors, or accounts doing similar things to you. In doing this, you’ll come up with some incredibly specific (and possibly quite random!) hashtags, but trust us, they’ll work!

If you want to start your own hashtag for a competition for example make sure you check out what others have shared to ensure it’s appropriate. Check that a larger organisation isn’t already using it – if they are then your content will probably get drowned out.

Also – and this is important – check that when the words are all grouped together, they couldn’t be misread as something inappropriate. For example, Parts Exchange (for a car-part business), could read something very different when all the letters are read together in a hashtag.

We’ve also had a small amount of success with the hashtag-generator app Leetags. Simply pop in a hashtag that you know works for you (for instance, #perthlife) and Leetags will find you 30 similar hashtags. Then, simply copy and paste this list into your phone!

Speaking of which – we keep a list of all our hashtags in ‘notes’ on our phone, so that we can simply copy and paste when posting on Instagram. We’ve got these separated into different categories, depending on what type of picture we’re posting. Easy!

I’d love to know how your results compare when you’re using hashtags versus when you’re not. Please report back!

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