03 Aug Instagram Hashtag Etiquette
Written by Chloe Mitchell
When establishing yourself on Instagram, hashtags are a great tool for gaining visibility and growing your following. Allowing for easy search and identification of different conversations you would like to participate in as well as content you would like to engage with, hashtags are intended to be used for discovery of content relevant to your interests. While hashtags can be very powerful in cultivating your community of followers, be mindful to use hashtags properly. Abusing hashtags (using widely searched but irrelevant hashtags like #free and #giveaway in effort to attract more attention to your content) ultimately leads to loss in credibility.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using hashtags:
-Identify the most searched and most used hashtags in your niche. Krystal of A Pinch of Lovely outlines the top 100 hashtags used by fashion bloggers as well as how and when to use them in a thorough blog post here. Lucy of Bake Play Smile also shares the best Instagram hashtags for food bloggers with her foodie followers here. Many bloggers across different categories have done similar posts so do a search for hashtags in your niche in order to keep hashtags targeted. I mean, who knows better than those who have done it themselves?
-Keep hashtags specific to your content. When building a community of engaged users interested in your content, your focus should be on reaching your target audience and catering content to those users rather than trying to cast your net wide and reach just anyone. Using popular hashtags that are unrelated to your content purely in hopes that this will broaden your reach and provide you with more exposure is not only an ineffective strategy but it also has the potential to hurt your credibility as this is widely classified as spammy behavior.
-Look at the hashtags used by other accounts you are inspired by. Whether it is successful competitors, or other influencers in your industry that are receiving high engagement on their photos, identifying accounts that are successfully engaging your target audience is very insightful and helpful for growing your own following.
If I am interested in building an audience with my fashion-focused content, and one of my favorite Instagram influencers and style inspiration is Lisa Dengler of ‘Just Another Fashion Blog,’ I may take a look at what hashtags she is using. If our style is similar, chances are that users who are interested in her style and are finding her account through those hashtags will also like my content.
-Use hashtags associated with related accounts that often regram user content.
This not only provides you with exposure if your photo is selected by the owners to regram on their account, but it also opens you up to a likeminded social community of users who are using that hashtag as well (and thus, likely have a similar style and aesthetic to your own) and allows you to be discovered by such accounts. On the flip side, creating a hashtag to promote user generated content is a beneficial idea for a well-followed account/brand because it provides them with an ample amount of content to post as they please while also strengthen the sense of community they seek to maintain.
Darling Media has created a series of popular hashtags to encourage user generated content, one of which being #darlingweekend (used on 2 million Instagram posts). They then repost their favorites on their own account. See post here.
Elsie and Emma, the creatives behind lifestyle account, A Beautiful Mess created the hashtag #ABMLifeIsColorful (tagged in over 2 million posts) for users to tag their on-brand colorful images, which Elsie and Emma then repost onto their well-followed account. See post here.
-Keep hashtags in a separate comment. While effective, hashtags are not very visually appealing and can distract from your caption and photo when visibly included in the photo caption. Keeping hashtags in a separate comment is a common practice of Instagram influencers who are looking to gain more exposure while still maintaining their aesthetic.
Here is an example of what that looks like:
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