Hashtags on Instagram FAQ

Uncategorized Jun 10, 2020

This week we are talking about hashtags on Instagram. I asked you guys what you wanted to know and now I’m sitting down to answer all of your burning questions!

Two types of hashtags 

There are two types of hashtags you need to be aware of when you’re running your own business on Instagram. 

1. Hashtags used on your own posts 

As a general rule of thumb, you want to use hashtags that have between 20,000 and 200,000 posts because it increases the likelihood that you will be visible within these hashtags for longer. If you use spammy hashtags with higher post numbers, you are much more likely to get buried and get buried fast.

2. Hashtags you engage with 

Search for spammy hashtags with a high turnover so when you’re engaging with these on a daily or weekly basis, you're not seeing the exact same posts. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is not paying attention and commenting on the same post twice days or weeks apart. 

How do I find good hashtags to use? 

This is such a loaded question and it comes down continued trial and error to test out what works for you. No hashtag group or even hashtag is necessarily going to be the winner. Every single time that you use a single hashtag, or every single time you use groups. There are so many other variables at play because social media is essentially a computer system that we, as average people who are not techies, cannot always understand. 

You need to notice when the hashtags you’re using are constantly underperforming and repeatedly not meeting your standards. That's the point that you want to change them out.

What can I do to make sure that finding hashtags doesn’t become an overwhelming and frustrating task? 

So many people find themselves lost when it comes to finding hashtags that they just chuck a few random ones under their post but this isn’t the right way to tackle this. You have to prepare in advance and use them on a rotating basis. Wasting time before each post coming up with new hashtags is inefficient and creates even more work. It also adds to the likelihood that you're going to pick crappy hashtags. 

Sit down twice a year and do hashtag research based on your niche. Create four to five groups of 30 hashtags so that you can rotate through each group when you’re posting to your feed. The trap many people fall into is using the same hashtags over and over again. Instagram will think you're spam, flag you for questionable activity and punish you by throttling your exposure.

Use keywords your ideal client is looking up on Instagram

As with every part of your business, you need to think about your ideal client: 

  • What does she do on a day to day basis? 
  • What is important to her? 
  • What is her social media activity like? 
  • What does she want to know? 
  • What does she want to learn about? 

People use hashtags to find resources and learn about things they’re interested in, so it’s really important to sit down and really think about this. If you keep willy nilly pulling things out of thin air, it will continue to be ineffective because you lack a strategy behind your actions. 

For example, if someone is interested in new makeup releases they're going to look up makeup hashtags. If someone is interested in knowing the Starbucks frappuccino flavor coming out this summer, they're going to be looking at those hashtags. 

How do I find new hashtags if I don’t have hours to do research? 

Honestly, girlfriend, you have to make the time. Remember, it’s only two times a year that you've got to take the time to sit down, research hashtags and create your four to five groups of 30. 

Once you have these groups, all you need to do is rotate them between posts. Feel free to do a quarterly update where you just swap out a few and freshen them up a little bit. You can also incorporate some seasonal hashtags.

This is actually going to save you time in the long run so it's worth front-loading the time right now. Trust me, you will be a much more efficient and effective as a business owner on Instagram. 

How do I know if a hashtag I’m using has been blocked or shadowbanned? 

A blocked or shadowbanned hashtag essentially has its exposure suppressed. If you look at a hashtag there will be a message that reads: “Recent posts from #shadowbannedhashtaghere are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram's community guidelines.” You can find this message either at the top of your phone screen or at the bottom of your computer screen.

Avoid hashtags that have political associations, and at the moment anything COVID-19 related because Instagram honestly does not want any incorrect information that they can't verify being put forward. 

You can also Google lists of banned hashtags, although I can't attest to the validity of those, so you’ll have to do your own research and double-check. 

How can I find my ideal client in the hashtags I’m engaging with? All I find when I search is people in my industry and creepers. 

Be very choosy about the hashtags you're going to follow and engage with on the regular. Look at what's performing at the top and ask yourself whether that content representative of the people you want to talk to or is it just a bunch of spam posts?

If you keep finding creepers in the hashtags then it’s time to use a completely different hashtag - pick a different phrase, pick a different genre, and just get out of there. 

If you’re finding lots of other business coaches that means you're looking up hashtags that are using industry lingo that your client doesn’t likely know or understand. Break out of your network marketing business bubble and lookup lingo that has nothing to do with your business.

Don't engage with hashtags that are overtly related to your industry or network marketing business. When you look up industry-specific hashtags, you’re only putting yourself in front of people who were doing the exact same as you. You’re not expanding your reach and you’re keeping yourself trapped in a tiny isolated bubble and making life harder for yourself. 

If you've been using industry-specific lingo for months and years, it's going to take some time and research to be able to break down that habit. Stop using #fitlife #fitmom #mamalife #mindbodysoul because literally everyone in this industry is using those.

Where can you stand out? Where can you be different? Put your creative hat on and think about how “normal” (aka non-business-minded people) think.

What do they say? What are some things that they look at? What do they care about? Are they posting cat pictures on Instagram or are they posting their food and drinks on a night out with the girls? 

Expand beyond the life you live as a business owner every single day and put yourself in their shoes. It's the same premise as when you create your ideal client avatar. You do have to sit down and it is going to take time. 

For many of you, time was the biggest concern, but I promise, when you take the time to front-load all of the work, you will actually save time in the long run. You won't be searching random hashtags just before you post because you’ll only need to refreshing your hashtag groups once per quarter and do a larger overhaul twice a year. 

When you do the research and you're intentional, they are going to perform well for you for months and years to come. I have some groups that I've been using since day one and they are still performing well for me to this day. 

How many hashtags should I use per post? 

Always use all 30. This is the maximum amount you can post and in over two years of studying hashtags on Instagram, I have not found any benefit to using less.

As far as placing them in the first caption versus in the comment, I haven't noticed a performance difference, so post them wherever it feels good to you. Personally, I put them in the comments because I think it looks more visually appealing. 

Hopefully, this was helpful in answering some of your most frequently asked questions about hashtags. 

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