By this point it’s 2021, everyone and their brother is on instagram there’s probably thousands of articles, videos, etc. about how to grow your instagram. Not going to lie I’ve read a bunch of those articles - some are definitely more helpful than others. So I am going to say before I write this article that I don’t have a huge following of millions so I can’t exactly tell you how to get there because I honestly have no idea. BUT I can however tell you what has worked for me in terms of instagram growth, and how I grew my instagram community using hashtags. (Image)
Why are Hashtags even important?
Well, I’ll tell you. Hashtags are important because they allow your content to be seen by thousands (potentially even millions) of users who aren’t following you yet. Hashtags make your content searchable through instagram and it’s possible to get way more eyes on your posts just by adding some simple hashtags. If you think about your account on instagram - you are one of a billion users. And unless you are already famous, people aren’t going to just be randomly searching for you on the app because they have no idea who you are. So how do you get people who aren’t following you yet to discover you? Hashtags.
What hashtags should you be using?
Just as important as using hashtags in the first place is using the correct hashtags on your posts. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, so on every single post you should be using all 30 of them! Now you have to be very careful not to use oversaturated hashtags that may or may not even have anything to do with your post. For example, my instagram is mostly centered around fashion. The hashtag #fashion has over 900 Million posts. If you use this hashtag (even if your post is about fashion), honestly your post is just getting lost in the noise.
When it comes to picking hashtags, it’s also important to know your niche. Your niche is the very specific category of what you post about. So Like I said before #fashion has 900 million posts. Meanwhile a niched down hashtag of #streetstylefashion only has 1.2 million posts (which to be honest is still a ton of posts). So why not niche down your hashtag even more to #streetstylefashionlooks - only 15 thousand posts! I find the sweet spot of posts in a hashtag is between 20 thousand to 500 thousand. If you are using hashtags that are too specific (maybe 5 thousand or less posts) then it also defeats the purpose because no one is using those hashtags - i.e. probably no one is searching them either.
My Hashtag Strategy
So now I’ll go through my step by step process of finding and using hashtags, then finally figuring out which ones are working for me.
- First, I will spend some time thinking about what my content is about. For me, it’s more than just fashion, it’s outfit inspiration, styling tips, and everyday looks. All of these niches will provide me with much more specific tags than just fashion or blogger - both of which are way too oversaturated.
- Next I’ll go through each hashtag that I want to use on instagram and make sure that it’s in my sweet spot of 20 - 500 thousand posts. I will say occasionally I use a hashtag that is outside of this range, but for the most part I try to stay inside of it.
- Then I’ll make a list of all of the different hashtags that I want to be using in my posts. I currently use a list of just over 100 hashtags. Now this may seem extreme (and maybe it is) BUT I like to use a wide range of hashtags to get even more eyes on my content. After I have my list of 100 or so hashtags, I split them into groups of about 10-15 based on tags that have things in common. For example all the hashtags that have to do with outfit ideas, or outfit inspiration, etc. are in a group together. I do this so that when I post content that deals with outfit ideas (or whatever the theme of my hashtag groupings are) I can easily pull that group of hashtags and add them to that post since it’s relevant to this content.
- After I’ve grouped my hashtags and used them on relevant posts, I will then go into the hashtags and interact with the top 10 and most recent 10 posts of that tag. Now I won’t do this with all of the 30 hashtags that I use, most likely I will just interact with the top 5 or so most relevant hashtags. That means I have now liked and/or commented on about 100 photos of people I may or may not follow already, and I may get engagement and interactions from them in return.
- And of course, finally, I will look at my insights to figure out which hashtags are working for me. You can see your reach from hashtags in your insights of a photo to see if your hashtags are actually working and getting your content seen by more than just those who already follow you.
Now instagram is something that is always changing and I know for one that means my strategy is also constantly changing. But for now this is what works for me, and what I will continue doing until I feel like it’s no longer working. At some point in the future I may be writing a follow up to this article, with an updated strategy, but as of the beginning of 2021, this is the strategy I will be moving into the new year with, and hopefully it not only continues to work for me, but you as well.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, I don’t have millions of followers, so my strategy is not going to grow your instagram by the millions or even by the thousands. What I can tell you is that this strategy has helped me grow not only my following (I’ve gained over a thousand followers in 2020 - which isn’t crazy by today's standards, but I am still extremely proud of that), but my engagement has grown as well.
Definitely share your experiences with hashtag uses in the comments! I love to know what strategies have worked (or haven’t worked) for other people.