How to Use Instagram Hashtags for Explosive Growth

Finding the right Instagram hashtags for your niche can be a game changer!

If you’re not using hashtags in your Instagram marketing strategy you’re either too big to care (Hello Kim Kardashian!) or you’re ignoring an important method to drive growth.

You may say that you already tried hashtags for your Instagram growth strategy and saw little or no results. That may be true. There are a few common mistakes that prevent marketers from getting the most out of their hashtag strategy.

Here are the top 3 mistakes that you should avoid if you want to grow your accounts faster:

1. You’re not using targeted hashtags for your niche

Before you start using Instagram hashtags to grow your reach with the right audience, you need to conduct thorough research to identify the best performing hashtags for your target market. There are several ways to find hashtags in your niche:

  • Walk in your target audience’s shoes: What is your audience searching for online? What are their pain points or aspirations as they scroll through social media? Which hashtags are related to what they hope to find?
  • Look at your competitors: Take a look at your competitors’ social media profiles and see which hashtags they are using. This can give you an idea of which hashtags are popular in your niche.
  • Search for related hashtags: Use a hashtag research tool like keyhole.co, Flick, Hashtagify, Hashtag Slayer, IQHashtags or RiteTag. These allow you to enter a keyword or phrase related to your niche and generate a list of relevant hashtags. You can also use social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and niche-specific communities to search for hashtags related to your niche. For example, if your niche is “fitness”, you can search for hashtags like #fitness, #workout, and “#fitfam.

2. You’re using the most popular, generic Instagram hashtags like #love 

Avoid popular hashtags like #love, #happy or #dog. This might be counter-intuitive, but using the most popular hashtags is not a great idea. Your posts will be buried by the avalanche of new posts that keep appearing under this kind of hashtags. Look for highly targeted hashtags with medium and low popularity.

The goal is to get on the Instagram Explore page. This  puts you in front of a new, TARGETED audience! The algorithm tracks the users’ daily interactions to capture their interests and preferences then generates content which is relevant to every individual user. These posts are generated based on engagement, the types of content you regularly engage with and the accounts that you’re following as well as what gets engagement from people you follow.

 Getting on the Instagram Explore page or Top Posts sections can result in a huge network effect and make your posts go viral on Instagram. If you pick the right hashtags, you’ll resonate with your audience and get promoted for free by the Instagram algorithm. 

3. You’re not using 30 hashtags with all your posts

With each hashtag that you’re not using you’re missing out on a considerable Instagram reach. Think of all those people that are searching for each tag to discover new content, brands and people to follow. This is actually Instagram’s recommended method to grow your account and expand your reach: using all the allowed 30 hashtags with your posts. If you’re worried that it looks a bit spammy, you can just add them to the first comment on your post. This way your caption will look nice, and your message will be easy to read.


Using branded hashtags can be a double-edged sword

Using branded hashtags is a good strategy when you are already a popular brand. Otherwise, it will just take the place of some other more useful hashtags that could bring you more potential followers and clients. And, of course, you don’t want to promote another brand by using their branded hashtags.

So, to be successful on Instagram, you need to start by avoiding these common mistakes.

Your goal is to get 500 related hashtags starting from a very popular one. Save them in a CSV file to use as you craft your posts.

As you publish your Instagram posts, here are 3 basic rules to keep in mind:

  • Always use 30 hashtags with each post. No exceptions. If you worry that your posts will look “spammy” use 3 – 5 hashtags in your caption and the rest of the posts in the first comment.  
  • Focus on medium and low popularity hashtags with a 5k-500k post count. You can go up to 1 million in some niches, but don’t go over. Make sure they’re not too unpopular either. They should have at least around 5k posts. Always use about 3-5 big hashtags. This will increase the number of likes you receive and help your posts get to the Top Posts section for lower and medium popularity hashtags. When in doubt, use the 80-20 formula: 80% of your hashtags should be low-medium popularity and 20% of your hashtags should be medium-high popularity. The less popular hashtags will be more likely to get you featured in the Top Posts section and the more popular ones that will help you boost engagement for your post.
  • Cycle your hashtags, don’t use the same hashtags on all your posts. Using the same hashtags for all your posts might make them inefficient after a while. Have a cheat sheet with 60 – 100 hashtags. Rotate them, monitor their performance, and adjust as needed. Test new hashtags and see if you’re getting better results. 

Jenn Wise is an information technology enthusiast and AWS solutions architect. An innovative product, business development, and strategic operations executive, she is experienced in e-commerce, marketplaces, global expansion (APAC, EMEA, and LATAM), and leading innovation initiatives. Jenn is currently the Director of Business Development at Reactionpower.com. Her mission is to help busy tech and marketing executives get more done, particularly during fast-paced periods of challenge and change.

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