Using Hashtags Effectively To Grow Your Instagram Account
Most people don’t realize how much value doing proper hashtag research and employing proper strategies when using them can add to the growth of their Instagram account.
For most, hashtag research involves just googling for hashtags of a particular niche, collecting the most popular ones and then pasting them in a text editor for use when they post their next piece of content. That’s it!
Unless your account has a following into hundreds of thousands, this is just one sure way to frustrate your growth on Instagram.
I’m equally guilty of employing the same strategy a while back when I didn’t know better. It reached a point I didn’t see the need to use hashtags in my content anymore. See the problem with this strategy is, a lot of variables have not been taken into consideration.
I will elaborate on that.
There are 2 important content sections on Instagram to take into account when planning your hashtag strategy:
- the Top Post Section and
- the Recent Post Section
Instagram lists only the top 9 posts for any given hashtag in the Top Post Section based on their popularity, i.e number of likes, comments and how long ago they were posted.
So let’s say your account is in the pet niche and you have 500 followers. You post a picture of a cute little dog and use the hashtag #cute (which has more than 300 million posts). Here, you’ve just set yourself up to compete against hundreds of thousands of big accounts (accounts with hundreds of thousands into millions of followers) using the same hashtags for the top only 9 positions.
So even if your post shows up in the Recent Post Section, it will only last there for a fraction of a second because, at the same time, a lot of other accounts are posting using the same hashtag. Your meager following of 500 liking your post won’t help much either.
I am going to show you a strategy that you can use to get your posts a lot more exposure than they’re used to getting and hopefully get them into the Top Post Section and consequently earn you more followers organically. You will need to commit yourself to doing proper keyword research in order to do this right.
Hashtag research for Instagram
Instagram allows you to use only 30 hashtags within your post’s caption. Many people including myself (in previous posts) recommend limiting the number of hashtags you use in the caption to less than 15. But after much testing, I now recommend that you use all 30 hashtags in the caption. If you wish to post some more in the comments that’s up to you.
So before you post your next piece of content, start by collecting as many hashtags as you can (100 is good enough), all in the same niche/topic of your content.
websta.me is a very resourceful website that will help you. Head over there and type in any keyword your topic. For each hashtag that you collect, we’ll need to know the number of posts in existence that are using it (I’ll explain why in a moment). In the image above according to websta.me for instance, we now know that 127,544,214 posts at the time of writing this article are using the hashtag #ootd.
We’re going to place our keywords into the following categories according to their popularity:
- Super Popular = 10M+ Posts
- Very Popular = 5M+ Posts
- Popular = 1M+ Posts
- Almost Popular = 500K+ Posts
- Less Popular = 250K+ Posts
- Not Popular = under 100K
The plan here is to get your post into the Top Post Section of the less popular hashtags and as the engagement (likes, comments) on your post increase, your post will continue to climb up the popularity ladder and hopefully finally land the Top Post Section of the popular to the super popular hashtags.
To do that, you’ll post 25 less popular + 5 very popular hashtags in your caption.
In order to decide which categories fit your account, we’re going to multiply the number of followers you have by 100. So let’s say your account has 5000 followers, you will select 25 hashtags with 500K posts or less and 5 hashtags with more than 500K posts.
Another example to make it clearer, if your account has 200 followers: 200 x 100, you’ll need 25 hashtags with post counts below 20,000 and 5 hashtags of a much bigger volume of post counts.
Try this for a week and you should begin to see better engagement on your content.
Bonus Hashtag Strategy
Now, this part is going to require that you put in a little more effort for a period of time and once you have the perfect combination of hashtags for your content, you can always reuse them and continue enjoying engagement.
A couple hours after posting, go through each hashtag and see which ones you made it to its Top Post Section for and which ones you did not. Note the ones that failed, remove them from your list and replace them with some of those that you collected in your research above. Keep doing this until you’re pleased with the performance of your hashtag combination.
If you read this far you’re obviously taking your Instagram business seriously and are looking for the best and safest methods to grow your account. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
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Until next time!
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