We all know hashtags are essential when marketing your business on Instagram, but do you know that not every hashtag is created equally?
I’m sure you want to stand out amongst the billions of users on the platform and get your message heard.
Organic search on Instagram has been declining, and the algorithm is no friend to new accounts, but there are ways around it. Honest ways, you will not find black hat techniques here.
I present to you, the top secret step by step process that I use to find hashtags for my business. It seems to be a topic no one talks about, probably because they want to keep it a secret! Well no more, the hashtag research strategy is revealed.
Step 1: Figure out your target audience
A target market is the specific group of people you want to reach with your marketing message. They are the people who are most likely to buy your products or services, and they are united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviours. Marketing to everyone and anyone is a waste of time and money, so it’s best to avoid using irrelevant hashtags. If you like money and time, you won’t do this. Read more about how to identify your target market.
2. Use the “Search” function
The Instagram search feature is a powerful way to get the hashtags you were looking for. These hashtags can be brand related or community related. When you start typing into the search bar, Instagram will automatically populate suggestions for your inquiry and suggest other hashtags related to your search. Overall you need to think of hashtags that your target audience would be using or looking for. The nice thing about the search feature is you can put in a broad term such as “online marketing” and get results that look like this: featuring top hashtags related to online marketing and top accounts that use those keywords.
3. Look at your competitors hashtags
What kind of hashtags is your competitor using? Are they doing really well on Instagram? If you follow your competition closely you should be able to figure out which posts get the most engagement and see what hashtags they were using on the popular posts. You can use Hootsuite or Sprout Social, you can take an in depth look at your competitors accounts and use that information to your benefit.
4. Gather your hashtag list and evaluate their weight on the platform
Whoa, what did I just even say in that title there?!
It’s interesting, most people tell you how to find the hashtags, but it’s easy to find hashtags… the hard part is finding out if the hashtags you found are going to be useful to your account.
So the thing is, not every hashtag will drive the same result to your account. For example, #onlinemarketing is a hashtag that has 2.3 million posts, with the top 9 posts averaging out to 5, 000 likes per post. This means that #onlinemarketing is a little too popular, and will likely not get any traction to your account and is considered a high density hashtag. However, it is a good idea to sprinkle a few high density hashtags in your posts because you might just get a handful of likes and followers from it.
Try to find low density hashtags. These are hashtags that have less than 500, 000 posts. You can increase your chances of ranking higher with hashtags that are less popular.
The best way to determine if the hashtag you found is going to be useful to you or not, is by looking at the top 9 posts for that hashtag. How many likes on average do those posts get? How many likes on average do your current posts get? If the numbers are fairly close, then you can use that hashtag.
5. Follow trending niche hashtags
These will be high density hashtags but that’s ok! We can use a handful of them in our posts to gain a little momentum.
When you follow a hashtag, you will see all the trending posts with that hashtag in your explore feed. You can really dive deep into the explore page on Instagram and search for keywords in your niche and make a list of hashtags that the top posts are using. This is kind of like following your competitors, but these profiles are not normally your direct competition.
6. Measure the effectiveness of your hashtags
If you have an Instagram business profile, you can measure your account performance through individual post insights.
Access this data by selecting a post want to investigate. Click the view insights button and you will be able to see how much of an impact your hashtags are making.
When tracking your post insights, you can then determine which hashtags are working for your profile.
Once you are targeting your target audience on Instagram with relevant hashtags, you can really start to see growth in your account. Make sure you keep testing your hashtags and removing ones that start to become irrelevant to your niche.