Learn the Best hashtag strategies to succeed on Instagram
As Instagram coaches and teachers, we get more questions about hashtags than any other topic. It’s no wonder. The topic is very confusing.
- How can I tell when they are broken or banned?
- What are the benefits of following hashtags?
- Should I create my own “brand” hashtag? If so, how?
- How do I choose the best ones?
- Why does the same group work one day and completely fail the next?
- Where should I put them?
- Do hashtags make me look desperate?
- Why do large accounts use only one or two or none at all?
- How many should I be using?
The list goes on. Don’t worry. We are going to answer them all. We are going to take the mystery out of hashtags and help you harness their power to boost your Instagram success.
- Do hashtags make me look desperate?
- How many should we use?
- I see large, successful accounts using only one or two hashtags. If they are doing this shouldn’t I do it too?
- Where should we put them?
- Can we create our hashtags as we create our post?
- How do we choose the best ones to use?
- What size hashtags are best?
- What are the benefits to following hashtags?
- Should I have a brand hashtag?
- How do I create a brand hashtag?
- How do I create seasonal brand or brand campaign hashtags?
- Why are some hashtags broken or banned?
- How can I find out which are banned or broken?
- Why does the same list work great one day and fail the next?
- If my analytics don’t show hashtag under the list of impressions (inside post insights) does this mean I might be shadow banned?
- Where do I find hashtag analytics?
- Is there any way to find out how individual hashtags performed on a post?
- Do I have to type in a new list for every post or can I copy and paste the same list?
- What’s wrong with just reusing the same 30?
- How many can I use in stories?
- Don’t Ignore the Power of Hashtags
No. We think they make you look smart.
They make you look like you’re taking this seriously.
More important than what they make you look like is the fact that this is Instagram’s game. They created hashtags as a search tool. Any tool Instagram provides should be used.
In fact, Instagram upped the hashtag game when they enabled users to follow hashtags. Instagram is leaning into the power of hashtags more than ever, so you should too.
How many should we use?
Instagram allows 30 per post, so use them.
We recommend using 25-30 on every post.
Be sure to count, count, triple count. Just to be safe, you could limit your number to around 28. If you accidentally post with over 30 your entire capture will not appear. Luckily Instagram is now showing you a prompt when you type in more than 30 with a message saying, “You can’t sue more than 30 hashtags.” However, if you copy and paste in a list this message doesn’t always show up so don’t rely on it.
Large accounts, leaders in the industry, famous brands and famous people don’t need hashtags to be found.
They are already famous.
They are already being searched and followed simply by being who they are. Their strategies will obviously be different than accounts and brands who are still trying to become known.
Where should we put them?
Some people put them right next to their caption, with their message flowing straight into their string of hashtags. Some people put space between their caption and their list. Still others put them in a comment.
Here is our best advice: Give some visual space between your amazing message and your hashtags. This helps your readers value every word you write. People don’t want or need to see your list of hashtags.
Is putting them in a comment a good idea? We don’t like this option because it’s another action you need to separately organize. And you need to do it fast. There is no evidence that Instagram dislikes this, but we think it’s simpler to just include them at the bottom of your post. The only reason you should add them in a comment is if you run out of room in your caption.
For best results we recommend not doing this. Here’s why: When you think them up off the top of your head these are the ones that other people think of off the top of their heads, so these tend to be huge. Plus, Instagram does not always show you their size. Often, they just show you a few of your friends who follow them. Why this is helpful we don’t know.
This means you really need to take the time to look them up separately before you create your post.
How do we choose the best ones to use?
- Know your niche. Know your audience. Spend time researching if you want to find the best ones to use.
- How do you research? Begin by typing the hashtag into the search bar and go to the page.
- Here’s what you want to check:
- Content. What is being posted? Is it relevant to your niche & ideal audience?
- Current. Is it trending/current? Go to “recent” view and double check that this it’s still being used.
- Look at related hashtags (the list at the top) and get more ideas.
- Researching can also give you tons of useful information:
- helps you understand your niche and identify your niche within a niche.
- helps you find both your larger community and your smaller, more specific community.
- reveals what is succeeding, helps identify and learn from your competition.
This is all important information, so it’s time well spent. If done well, you will gain a lot more than simply finding the best hashtags for your use.
Over 1 million is a waste of time. It’s like playing the lottery. The odds are very much against your post being seen. Unless your photos are competing with the very best on Instagram. we suggest using smaller more niched-down hashtags. We recommend using a variety of sizes on each post.
- Choose some small (under 10K),
- some midsize (10-100K),
- and just a few larger (100K-500K)
These recommendations might vary depending on how competitive your posts are on Instagram. When in doubt choose a smaller hashtag over a larger one.
You can find smaller, niche appropriate hashtags by researching.
There are a variety of reasons to follow hashtags:
- Great way to connect with a community surrounding a niche/topic.
- Helpful to see what’s trending and what’s successful in a niche/topic.
- Useful to find new accounts to follow in related niches.
- Smart way to engage with accounts without having to follow everyone.
- Following hashtags doesn’t count in your follower number.
Should I have a brand hashtag?
Yes, you should have a brand hashtag. Here’s why:
- Having your own brand hashtag is another branding tool on Instagram.
- Starting your own brand hashtag increases recognition and searchability of your brand.
- Simply having your brand hashtag on your posts, possibly on your bio helps people view your account as a unique brand.
- Once you create your brand hashtag you should add it as one of your 30 to every single post.
- Encourage followers to follow your hashtag. When they follow both you and your hashtag this gives them double the chance to see your posts come up in their feed.
- Encourage followers to use your hashtag. This is a great strategy to increase brand awareness and create user-generated content that you can choose to repost/share.
How do I create a brand hashtag?
- Research hashtags related to your brand name. Start with your exact IG handle (letters only) and work from there.
- See what if anything is already being posted on that hashtag. Are the posts current? Are they related?
- If there are only a few and they aren’t offensive in any way you may be fine adopting it to use as your brand hashtag.
- Remember, no one “owns” a hashtag. You will never be able to control its use 100%.
- Seasonal hashtags and brand-specific slogans are a great way to further increase brand awareness.
- It’s not essential. It’s an option.
- Seasonal brand hashtags are temporary (for a campaign or season).
- Using seasonal or campaign hashtags is a great way to involve your community.
- This is a way to encourage user-generated content.
- Ask followers to share certain types of posts for a season and use your seasonal hashtag.
- Reshare favorites via stories or your feed. This further builds community by rewarding and recognizing.
This happens when hashtags are reported for misuse or discovered by Instagram to be overrun with spam activity. When hashtags are associated with any violation of Instagram guidelines, i.e. pornographic, bullying, or spam they become temporarily banned or some become permanently broken. Many of the more recent bans happen because of spam activity. This is Instagram’s effort to stop the increasing amount of bot activity.
How can I find out which are banned or broken?
Research. The only way to get up to date information is to check. This is another reason why you don’t want to just toss 30 onto your post and press share.
- Enter the hashtag into the search bar on Instagram.
- On the hashtag page if there is a ban you’ll see a message that reads “Recent posts from #_____ are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
- We share an updated list of banned and broken hashtags to get you started.
Why does the same list work great one day and fail the next?
Hashtags cannot create success. They can only boost success. If a post is not being well received as the algorithm sends it out, i.e. a good percentage of likes, comments, saves and shares, then Instagram will slow way down on who it shows the post to.
Hashtags can’t change this. If the post isn’t doing well then it will not appear on the top of any hashtags. Therefore, if a post does poorly the hashtags will not boost a poorly performing post.
Hashtags are not magic. They enhance success, they don’t create it.
0 x 0 = 0
Hashtags take the success of a post and effectively make it exponential.
When a post has some traction, the right hashtags can take that traction and multiply it greatly. The ability for a post to go viral is in the hands of the creator and then in the hands of well-chosen hashtags to boost it.
If my analytics don’t show hashtag under the list of impressions (inside post insights) does this mean I might be shadow banned?
No, it’s doubtful. If your hashtag reach was extremely low, the metric will not appear. Don’t panic. Just go back to the drawing board and work on your content.
Where do I find hashtag analytics?
Click on “view insights” at the bottom of any post.
There is no way to determine individual hashtag performance inside Instagram. However, Tailwind has a new tool available with paid subscription which provides these valuable insights. This tool is currently only available to Business accounts. It is not available for Creator or Personal accounts.
Do I have to type in a new list for every post or can I copy and paste the same list?
- You don’t need to type in 30 for each post.
- We recommend having a variety of lists.
- Ideally you should create at least 3 lists per topic.
- Update your lists regularly.
- Change out a few for each post to make sure they all make sense for the specific post.
- Save your lists on your phone. We like to use the notes section of our smart phones to save our lists. Add a topic title so you can search and find relevant lists.
- Copy and paste from your notes.
What’s wrong with just reusing the same 30?
You can reuse the same 30, but you are limiting your reach. When you use a larger variety of hashtags you are introducing yourself to many different audiences vs. limiting your audience. Expand your selection to expand your audience.
How many can I use in stories?
- You can use up to 10 per video.
- We think using that many is overkill, but if you want to take the time it won’t hurt.
- You don’t need to repeat the same ones throughout a story series.
- We recommend sprinkling 2-3 different ones per video in the same series.
- To avoid cluttering the visual look of your videos we suggest making them small or hiding them under a GIF.
- For more tips on how to make the most of your Instagram stories visit our blog post.
In 2020 Instagram is more competitive than ever. Give your posts every possible advantage by mastering the art of hashtags. Do your research. Time spent researching is time well spent. You will gain a greater understanding of Instagram, your audience, what succeeds, and so much more.
If you have additional questions, please add them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer them.
jodie & julie