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In 2019, we covered the basics for hashtags. However, times have changed and so have trends, so we’re back answering all your Instagram hashtag questions for 2020.
Hashtags are often a topic of much debate within the Instagram community. How many should you use? How do you find the best ones for your brand? How do hashtags work? We’ve answered all these questions, plus more in our updated 2020 guide to Instagram hashtags.
Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash
Did you know Instagram posts with as little as one hashtag attract 12.6% more engagement than those without? Hashtags prove another way for Instagram to categorise your content, making it easier for your business to be found.
Adding relevant hashtags to your content is more important now than ever. In late 2019, Instagram introduced the ability for users to follow hashtags, much like they would follow an account. A new feature allows images from followed hashtags to be featured on your feed. This means that when the correct popular hashtags are used your content has the potential to be seen by hundreds or thousands of new users.
When selecting hashtags to use for your Instagram profile, search for hashtags which target a niche audience. This is especially relevant if you have a very well defined target audience as it will drive quality engagement on your page. For example, if you’re running a business for car restorations, try using hashtags of relevant car models such as, #76Monaro.
Hashtags need to be rotated and switched. Using the same hashtags over a long period of time can be harmful to your reach. In fact Instagram may even mark your content as spam. The best way around this is to create a few lists of hashtags you can switch in and out depending on the content you’re publishing.
Social media is all about being timely and reactive, so keeping in-tune and engaged with your audience is of the utmost importance. When selecting your hashtags, ensure you’re keeping an eye on common trends. For example, if it’s international coffee day and your scheduled post shows a coffee, even though it may not be the focal point, ensure you use the #InternationalCoffeeDay hashtag.
We’ve put together a list, courtesy of Metricool, of the most popular instagram hashtags of 2020 thus far. Be careful using these hashtags as they are likely flooded with content already and your post will be lost in the search results.
If your account is set to private, users who you have not approved to follow your account will not be able to see your content. Naturally, content from these accounts will not appear in the explore pages. Therefore, your hashtag will not work.
If you’re finding your hashtags are not bringing higher rates of engagement, you may be using the wrong ones. When choosing hashtags, it’s important to pick ones relevant to your business.
For example, a skin care brand may use #Skincare, as it can safely be presumed their audience would be interested in this topic. However, if this same business began using #digitalmarketing, they would likely not see an increase in engagement, purely because it’s unlikely those looking for a skincare business would be searching ‘#digitalmarketing’ during their search.
While using hashtags with a high search volume is a great strategy, there is a fine line between commonly used and too popular. When a user searches a popular hashtag they will be flooded with thousands or even millions of results. Therefore, much like a Google search, your content must compete with a high volume of other posts in order to be seen by the searching user.
Ultimately, this makes it very difficult for the hashtag to work effectively. Unless your post is featured in the ‘Top Posts’ of the hashtag, which is determined based on engagement rates, it is likely your content will be lost.
The most effective number of hashtags to use has been a topic of much debate over the past years, with some recommending using 30 hashtags and others recommending none at all. Simply put, the answer is not a one-size-fits all solution. Ideally, you should put 5 hashtags on a post, at minimum.
However, it’s quality not quantity. By adding 30 hashtags on a post, you’re pushing your content out to 30 different audiences. But, if 15 of those hashtags are too popular or irrelevant to your content, you’re better off not adding them.
Using banned hashtags is a very common and easy mistake to make. You may be wondering what is a banned hashtag? A banned hashtag is one which has been blocked or banned for use by Instagram for breach of guidelines.
The most common reason a hashtag may be banned is because it was connected to an excessive amount of inappropriate content, such as provocative or racist imagery. This may sound simple to avoid, however some seemingly harmless hashtags, such as ‘#BeautyBlogger’ and ‘#elevator’ are banned due to them being commonly used on content breaching guidelines.
First things first, ensure you have a good understanding of your target audience. Take note of demographics, geographics and behaviours. What does your consumer care about and want to see. From this alone you should be able to generate a few hashtags. For example, if you’re running a digital marketing agency, it’s likely ‘#SocialMedia’ will be relevant.
The best way to do this is to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. If they were looking for a brand such as yours, what hashtag would they search to find it? A good example is, those looking for a social media marketing agency in Brisbane will likely search ‘#BrisbaneSocialMediaAgency.”
Take a look at what your competitors are doing. It is likely the hashtags they’re using will be relevant to your business also. Doing this will allow you to determine which hashtags work best by comparing their hashtags to engagement results.
Another great source of hashtags are industry leaders or influencers. If your business exists in the B2B market, it is likely you have well-known industry leaders. Take a look if they’re using hashtags, see if any of them correlate with your brand and don’t be afraid to use them. In contrast, if you’re marketing directly to consumers, influencer hashtags will likely provide some insight.
After you’ve found some hashtags related to your brand through the above techniques, it’s time to use them to expand on your list. This technique is super easy and effective. Simply type one of your chosen hashtags into the Instagram explore page search bar and once the results have loaded, select the dropdown menu beside the blue follow button. From here, related hashtags will be shown.
It is likely these hashtags will also be relevant to your brand, so don’t be afraid to use them.
After testing a few of your newly created hashtag lists, it’s important to take a look at the results. When doing this, don’t simply rely on the amount of likes and reach — dig deeper into your insights.
When using a business account, each post will have insights available through the ‘view insights’ tab. Once this tab showing the likes, comments, saves, sends, profile visits and reach is visible, push the tab toward the top of your screen. This should reveal deeper insights. Underneath ‘Impressions’ you will be able to see how your audience found the post, including through hashtags. Compare how the hashtags performed between posts.
The Instagram algorithm, as it stands, relies heavily on machine learning to determine which posts we, as users, see first in our feed. This is the reason none of your posts on Instagram are shown in a chronological order, unlike other platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Posting times for Instagram, whilst still relevant, are less effective. This forces social media managers and content creators alike to find new, more creative ways to ensure their brands content is seen.
Put bluntly, Instagram wants their users to enjoy their time on the social media platform in hopes they’ll increase their time active within the Instagram community. The more users are active on Instagram, the more likely brands are to adopt paid advertising on the platform. Instagram is a business after all.
In an attempt to achieve this, Instagram has begun favouring users, both personal and business, who engage with their followers. With the idea behind this being, users will enjoy their time spent on the platform more if it’s the basis for relationships. Engaging with your target market through, liking posts, commenting, sending direct messages and tagging other accounts are the ideal ways to get Instagram to favour your content.
But how do you find your target audience on a platform with over 1 billion users? Hashtags are your answer. Select a few hashtags which are relevant to your target market, search and follow the hashtag, then begin engaging with those accounts using them. For example, a mechanic may search hashtags such as ‘#Holden’ or ‘#Australiancars.’
As mentioned above, the most important element of any Instagram post is ensuring the content is relevant to your audience. When looking at your insights information, via the Instagram app, take note of the audience location, demographics and active times. From here you can build a consumer profile, or target audience, if you will.
Carry out some research on your newly created consumer profile such as what is important to them and which of your product offerings resonate most with them. It is here that competitor research may help you. Take note of what is working on their accounts, which posts have high amounts of engagement, what hashtags did they use?
Instagram favours content which is similar to posts that have attracted engagement in the past. Hence the importance of understanding your audience and provoking interaction. For example, if a user interacts with business accounts more, then naturally they will be shown more business accounts. Same can be said if a user engages more with video content, that will become a prominent feature on their feed.
You may have noticed new interactive stickers are available in the story creation dropdown menu. These stickers are part of Instagram’s supporting small businesses initiative. Users can add these ‘support small business’ stickers to their story content, allowing them to mention brands directly in a more aesthetically pleasing manner than a simple handle.
Not only does the sticker show a preview of your account, it also automatically adds your story to a shared story linked to other small businesses using the sticker. This story is periodically added to the front of the general user’s story bar.
The new addition allows businesses to increase their reach for free and is a great tool for small businesses during these tough times. To make the most of this new feature, ensure you add this sticker to all your relevant story posts and encourage customers to use the sticker when mentioning your brand on Instagram.
While the ability to add shoppable product tags linking to an ecommerce store through your Instagram content has been a prominent feature on the platform for over a year, Instagram has recently updated this feature and taken it to a whole new level.
Instagram Shops is a free feature allowing businesses to create a small eCommerce store within their Instagram profile. The shop can be added to a business’s Instagram account via a button, appearing in the same manner as a businesses contact information. When customers click through to the store, they are able to browse and purchase products without leaving the app!
This feature is still very new, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen much communication around it. Instagram will be contacting all eligible business accounts via email when the platform is ready to launch in your area. Currently, all businesses using Facebook and Instagram shopping are eligible.
No, where you place your hashtags does not impact their efficiency, despite rumours.
The easiest way to know if an Instagram hashtag is blocked is to begin typing the hashtag into the explore page. If nothing appears or a message appears saying recent content will not be shown, it is likely the hashtag is temporarily or permanently banned.
Following a hashtag on Instagram is simple. On the explore page, search the hashtag you wish to follow. When the search results load, simply click the blue “follow” button at the top of the page.
There are many paid programs available online which track current trending hashtags, those programs traditionally have the most accurate results.
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