A hashtag is a type of metadata tag used on social networks and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content. (wikipedia.org)
That being said, if you include the right Instagram hashtags in your posts, you will likely see higher engagement than you would if you didn’t have any. Why? Because Instagram is set up so that using a hash sign followed by a keyword will create a link to a collection of other photos, videos and Stories tagged with that same word.
Statistics show that a post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without any. This means that it’s really worth establishing a hashtag strategy for your brand if you want to grow you account.
Here are some guidelines you can use to get more followers, improve your posts’ engagement rates and build a community around your business.
Use relevant, targeted hashtags on your posts and stories. If you use the most popular Instagram hashtags that have been used millions of times, your content will most probably get lost in the ocean of posts. Instead find and use hashtags that are smaller and have a truly engaged audience that’s relevant to your industry. The best way to find these is to check what Instagram hashtags your audience, competitors, and industry leaders are already using.
Come up with your own hashtags. You can either use branded hashtags (unique for your brand), community hashtags (broader and much less focused) or campaign hashtags (short-term and tied to specific campaigns). All of these help you connect with your audience and grow your following.
Add clickable hashtags to your Instagram Bio. This will make it a lot easier to build an Instagram bio that converts to website visits and it makes your bio even more functional — you can use hashtags for everything from promoting your Instagram community to highlighting your branded content and announcing your Instagram campaigns.
Add hashtags to your Instagram Stories. You can either type your hashtags out with the text tool (you can include up to 10 in your stories) or you can use the hashtag sticker to add a single hashtag of your choice. Like regular posts, when you add a hashtag to an Instagram story, it becomes searchable on the Search & Explore page. Meaning that anyone who searches for that hashtag on Instagram will be able to see your story!
Follow hashtags. It works just like following a user’s profile. When you find a hashtag you’d like to follow you simply open the hashtag page and tap on the follow button. How great is that for your brand or business?! For example, if you have a branded hashtag, you can invite your followers to also follow your unique hashtag. This means that your content could appear twice in a follower’s feed — once as they follow your profile, and once again as they follow the hashtag. It doubles your chances of engagement!
Keep an eye on hashtag trends and social media holidays. Current affairs (#SummerFestivals), social media trends (#ThrowbackThursday) and commemorative holidays (#InternationalYouthDay) all pull in a huge amount of traffic.
Track your hashtag success with Post Insights. This feature only works on business profiles. This gives you the ability to check how effective your hashtags are in getting more views (or impressions) on your posts! This will indicate if you’ve chosen the right hashtags or not. To access it, just open a post and tap on the View Insights text below the picture. Swipe up to see all the insights for that post, including the number of impressions from hashtags.
By tracking this data you can begin to figure out which hashtags are most effective for improving reach.
When should you use hashtags? As often as possible!
How many hashtags should you use? The maximum no. of hashtags you can use per post is 30. At the end of the day how many you use is up to you. It’s always OK to experiment with the number until you find what really works for you.
And finally: DON’T use the same hashtags for months on end. If you’re using the same hashtags for extended periods of time Instagram might think you’re being a little spammy. So keep your hashtags fresh and keep rotating them to avoid a drop in engagement.