I want to keep this guide short and practical, so I won’t start with the usual intro telling you how important hashtags are for Instagram Marketing. We all know their importance. If you’re not using hashtags in your strategy either you’re too big to care (Hello Kim Kardashian!) or you’re ignoring an important method to drive more engagement and growth.
Some of you might say “but hey, I already used hashtags with my Instagram growth strategy and saw little to no results”. That can be true. There are a few common mistakes that prevent marketers from getting the most out of their hashtag strategy. Here are top 5 mistakes that you should avoid if you want to grow your accounts faster:
- #1 You’re not using targeted hashtags for your niche.
- #2 You’re using the most popular Instagram hashtags or generic ones like #love, #happy or #dog
- #3 You’re not using 30 hashtags with all your posts
- #4 You’re not “cycling” your hashtags
- #5 Using branded hashtags can be a double-edged sword
Before starting using hashtags as a growth method for your Instagram accounts, you need to conduct a thorough research to identify the best performing hashtags for your target market. You want to attract only those users that are interested in what you have to offer. The best approach here is to do a hashtag research before starting using them with your posts so that you maximize your reach. In this tutorial, we will learn exactly that: how to find the best hashtags for your business.
This might be counter-intuitive, but sometimes using the most popular hashtags might not be such a great idea. Even if they are targeted, you might get a few likes or followers, but soon enough your posts will be buried by the avalanche of new posts that keep appearing under this kind of hashtags. So the second tip is to look for those tags with medium and even low popularity, where your posts can get the chance to be featured in the famous top 9 section. The idea is to stay longer on the first page of those particular hashtags and get discovered by more people in the process. Getting in the Top Posts sections can even result in a huge network effect and make your posts go viral on Instagram.
With each hashtag that you’re not using you’re missing out on a considerable Instagram reach. Think of all those people that are searching for each tag to discover new content/brands/people to follow. This is actually Instagram’s recommended method to grow your account and expand your reach: using all the allowed 30 hashtags with your posts. If you’re worried that it looks a bit spammy, you can just add them to the first comment on your post. This way your caption will look nice, and your message will be easy to read.
Just like with every other aspect of a marketing campaign, you need to test your hashtag, try new ones and see if you’re getting better results. Using the same hashtags for all your posts might even make them inefficient after a while. The strategy here is to have a cheat sheet of about 60 – 100 hashtags and rotate them with your posts.
Using branded hashtags is a good strategy when you are already a popular brand. Otherwise, it will just take the place of some other more useful hashtags, that could bring you more potential followers and clients. And, of course, you don’t want to promote another brand by using their branded hashtags.
So, to be successful on Instagram, you need to start by avoiding these common mistakes.
Next, let’s see how to find the best hashtags for your niche in just 2 simple steps. Maybe an optional 3rd step, for even better results. Here you go:
Step 1: Find around 10 – 15 relevant hashtags in the niche of your choice
At this step, it doesn’t matter how popular the hashtags are (actually it might work better with really popular ones). They need to be very targeted.
Let’s take the “nails” niche for the test.
Go to keyhole.co and search for related Instagram hashtags starting from a very popular one, like “nailsofinstagram”.
Scroll down to the Related Topics section and note down around 10 hashtags. Here’s the list of hashtags I grabbed from Keyhole.co.
PS: If you’re getting a message to sign up or login so you can do the search, just open keyhole.com in a Private Mode window or Incognito Mode – for Google Chrome.
For the next step, we will assume you already have JARVEE installed and your social accounts up and running. If not, it’s not too late. Just sign up for a free trial and follow the instructions you receive by e-mail.
Step 2: Go to JARVEE, Instagram Tools, and use the “Users and Hashtags Tool”
Enter the hashtags you found in step 1 in the Related Hashtags textbox, check the option “Scrape a minimum number of hashtags” and choose a few hundred, 500 hashtags for example, and click Search Related Hashtags.
Now, this might take a while (a few minutes), depending on your niche and the number of hashtags you entered. I don’t recommend to search for more than 500 hashtags because on certain niches you start getting results that are not very relevant or with a very low post count (having a low post count doesn’t help either). If your niche is very popular amongst Instagrammers, then you can search for about 500 hashtags and get very relevant, high-quality hashtags. If your niche is not that popular, you might want to search for about 300 hashtags.
When you have your results ready, export and save them. You’ll have a CSV file with about 500 relevant hashtags and their post count that you can open up in Excel.
Step 3: Review your hashtags
Open up your CSV file in Excel. You only need the Hashtag and Post Count columns.
They are already ordered by the post count. Just take a look and see if you notice any unusual hashtag and delete them. You shouldn’t have too many unrelated hashtags to delete if you did the first step right and selected high-quality, popular and relevant hashtags for your niche. It all depends on those first 10 – 15 keywords.
You might need to practice this a few times before you figure out the best formula for any niche.
Now that you have your hashtags you need to create your strategy. If you search around the forum, you’ll find a few starting points. These are just a few basic rules:
- Always use 30 hashtags with each post. No exceptions. If you worry that your posts will look “spammy” you can post 3 – 5 hashtags in your caption and the rest of the posts in the first comment. With JARVEE you can do this easily using the [COMMENT] token – everything you write after this token will be posted in the first comment.
- Focus on medium and low popularity hashtags, with a post count less than 1 million, for example, even 500k for some niches. But make sure they’re not too unpopular either. They should have at least around 5k posts.
- Always use about 3-5 big hashtags even if you don’t have a chance to be featured in Top Posts. This will increase the number of likes you receive and help your posts get to the Top Posts section for lower and medium popularity hashtags. When in doubt, use the 80-20 formula: 80% of your hashtags should be low and medium popularity – the ones you want to get featured in the Top Posts section, and 20% of your hashtags should be medium-high popularity – the ones that will help you with a boost of engagement for your post.
- Cycle your hashtags, don’t use the same hashtags on all your posts. The more you use the same hashtags the less effective they will be. You can do this with the Dynamic Hashtags feature in JARVEE, that you can find in the Advanced Settings section of your scheduling campaign. You’ll just have to add your hashtags, and JARVEE will automatically cycle them in your posts.