Storytime: you’ve developed the perfect content for your Instagram and planned out an incredibly appealing feed. You take the time to follow people you think will like your content and make sure that you leave comments back to your posts and leave comments on the profiles of others that you’re really into. Yet the impressions and likes are not rolling in. So what gives? Well, if it sounds like you could be the star of this narrative, then maybe the problem lies in your hashtags. So we’re of course here to help you out a bit with that.

Hashtagging first started to pop up on Twitter in 2007, and it wasn’t long before other platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram jumped right on board with it. Hashtags allow users to group their content into categories, making for easy searchability and letting you find exactly what you’re looking for. On Instagram, this is exactly what it’s used for and one of the best ways for you to get those likes and new followers on to your account if you do them properly.

 

Practice some Mimicry

To start out, we want to talk a little about this psychology theory out there about nonconscious mimicry.  The idea behind it is that when we have a goal or desire to want to build a good relationship with someone and get them to like us, we subconsciously start copying their behaviors. When we do this, it’s actually effective in making the other person develop a good feeling about us. If this works well on a nonconscious level, well you can bet it works when you do it intentionally as well.

You’ve already identified your target audience: the people you’re 100% sure are going to love what you post. These are the people that you should be mimicking. Check out what kind of language they use in their captions and pay attention to how they use hashtags and what these hashtags are. Do they incorporate tags into the caption itself or place them all at the end or in the first comment? Do the same kind of research for your biggest competitors and the thought leaders or influencers in your industry as well. These are accounts that likely have the kind of reach that you desire to achieve yourself, making them valuable resources to learn from.

Using the hashtags that your audience, competitors and thought leaders use, is one of the first strategies you can use for you to start getting your posts discovered by the right people.  

 

Check Out The Stats Beforehand

Learning from the best and from your target audiences is a good start, but studying data and looking at statistics is probably the most important thing to do when it comes to using hashtags wisely. The whole point of adding hashtags is to get your post discovered, yet it’s a bit of a challenge figuring out just how to do that. That’s because Instagram is full of content, making the competition pretty fierce. Before randomly adding a hashtag to your post, it will pay off to check out the post volume to see if your post would benefit from that addition. If there are too many people using a particular hashtag, then it’s not going to do you any good to do so as well. You need to be more specific.

Start off your little dive into the research by creating a shortlist of hashtags. To do this, try to step into the shoes of your target audience and throw some words out there with yourself (and your team) about the most salient hashtags related to your brand. These should be the core associations people have concerning your brand, so note down the first things that pop into your head. Next, is to check out the numbers corresponding to the tags you added to your list. To make this research process easier, we included a hashtag suggestions feature in Preppr. Once you start typing out a hashtag, we provide you with suggestions of related hashtags and immediately let you know the frequency of use for that tag. This helps you to narrow down your options and see which hashtags are worth using!

 

 

Once you’ve studied the statistics and determined which hashtags have good post volumes for your account, you can save them in your hashtag library right in Preppr for easy accessibility.

 

Get Your Branded Hashtags Settled

Branded hashtags are another way for you to break through all the other content swirling on Instagram. We’re especially fans of these types of hashtags since this really means that people are interested in finding you, not just the type of product or service you offer. It’s also another way you can go about tracking the customer sentiment about your brand and makes it easy for you to collect all the user-generated content surrounding your brand.

It may seem like a no-brainer that your branded hashtag ends up being the name of your brand. It makes sense: it’s likely one of the first things your fans or customers may think of when they decide to post about you, but it shouldn’t be your only option. We actually encourage you to think of some other ones that are also capable of capturing the essence of your brand. This can be your motto, the name of your most popular product or even the type of lifestyle you communicate as part of your brand identity.

You have a lot of space to play around with what kind of branded hashtag you want to create. It can be used as a way for you to facilitate more user-generated content and increase overall brand awareness on Instagram. Take, for example, Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke hashtag or Lululemon’s #TheSweatLife. Both these campaigns continue to bring in tons of publicity for both brands for absolutely no cost at all. What makes them work so well is that they allowed users to be creative, while also keeping the brands as the focal points. This is just one example of how you can use branded hashtags to improve your success on Instagram. You can also use them when you have an interesting promotion or contest going on, or as a way to promote a new product or event. Whatever your decision, go for something that relates to your core brand identity, encourages creativity and is short and sweet.

 

Don’t Over-Do It

You’re allowed up to 30 hashtags in one Instagram post, but that doesn’t mean you need to use all of them! In fact, research by Track Maven suggests that the ideal number of hashtags is somewhere between 5-10, seeing that engagement rates start dropping once you go beyond that number. So, instead of overloading your post with hashtags related to every single characteristic in your post, we recommend saving your hashtags for the ones that actually matter.

The likelihood that your #breakfast post consisting of #yummy #eggs and #toast is going to get noticed on the explore page from those tags is pretty low, so skip that practice completely. Adding generic hashtags to your post won’t do much for getting you the quality follows or likes that you want. All it’s going to do is rack up random likes from either spambots and follows from people who want a follow back; not the kind of users you’re looking for.

What you need to do is shoot for the long tail in your hashtags. The short tail contains the most popular and trending hashtags that are used like crazy. These won’t get you to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, if your hashtags are more personal, nuanced and specific, not only will you be getting interactions from more quality leads, but the competition for these hashtags will be greatly reduced as well. So your chances of getting discovered skyrocket!

When you’re choosing your long tail hashtags, make sure that the hashtag isn’t too long or so specific that you are the only one that uses it. This takes us right back into the importance of looking at the stats before you post these hashtags. No matter what strategy you go through, you need to include stats into your decision-making process. So always explore the usage of a tag before you decide to include it in your post.

Last but not least, participate in trending hashtags that are relevant to your brand. If #TacoTuesday works for yours, then absolutely join the conversation and use it. Yes, we’re talking to you, taco restaurant owners. These are popular tags, so don’t forget to pair it with your long tail tags as well. Another recommendation is that you get out there and engage. Visit users who use the same hashtags as you do and simply start talking to them. It’ll go far in getting you new followers and some engagement right back on your posts.

So how about it, ready to take your hashtagging to the next level after reading this blog?

 

We hope our tips will help you increase engagement by mastering hashtags like a Pro! Now it’s time to put it into practice and start Scheduling and Auto-posting to Instagram with Preppr 😉

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Header photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

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