Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will be very familiar with #hashtags and the importance of them in our marketing campaigns. In a nutshell, hashtags are used as a way of identifying a post, picture, comment, place, person and importantly, your business. It’s a great way to search for something online - just pop in #edinburghhairdresser for example and you will immediately see that this hashtag has been used on posts over 15,000 times. Although 15,000 mentions may seem a lot, it is not so much in the world of hashtags so to use this would quite likely be a sure sign that people will see you. Type in #hair and you will find more than 180 million mentions. Chances of visibility in this hashtag? Pretty much zero. The more mentions a hashtag has, the harder it is to get noticed with that hashtag. In a nutshell, in the world of hashtags, if you are trying to build visibility through hashtags more is not always more.
According to Plann (the super cool tool that we use to plan our instagram feed), if you are looking for visibility with hashtags their advice is as follows:-
Over a million hashtag mentions - don’t even bother trying to get noticed (unless of course you are a huge brand with an incredible digital marketing team and a limitless budget AND a high engagement rate)
Over 500,000 hashtag mentions - well this is still a huge stage to find your place on, BUT if you have great content and strong engagement then you can find some success at this level
Over 250,000 hashtag mentions - this is the sweet spot. Plann highly recommend this range - with good quality content, this is the area where you can really target and enjoy high levels of engagement.
Less than 250,000 - don’t despair and think this area is not worth venturing in to. On the contrary; this is a great area, even hashtags with mentions as low as 50k, to use for specific, targeted posts that can gather attention over several days, instead of a few hours.
One of the benefits of Plann is that they colour code each hashtag you type in and give you a traffic light coding system to indicate whether or not you should use it. They also save sets of hashtags to make it easy for you to target different audiences with different posts. If you don’t have a tool like Plann, then you can keep note of your hashtags on lists (however, we love what Plann helps us with and makes our life so much easier!).
So how do you select which hashtags are right for you and then, how do you organise them?
Hashtag selection is critical if you are planning on long term relationships with your followers. Yes, you can select a random amount (maximum 30) hashtags and hope for the best but, in the long term this is not going to be successful for you. Here are a few steps we recommend you follow to get your hashtag game up to scratch:
Think about the content you have created and who is going to find this of interest - how will those people discover it? You are looking to use hashtags that will create a level of engagement but not so popular that you will get lost in the sea of similar posts.
One easy way to see how popular a hashtag is: type your hashtag into the search bar and you will immediately see how many mentions that hashtag has which will help you decide if it is worth competing in this market or not (see image below). It may be worth going for a similar hashtag that does not have such a high number of mentions. You can figure this out by testing different hashtags to see which ones work better for you.
Look at other people in your field, including your instagram-star competitors to see which hashtags they use and what level of engagement they are generating.
Once you have decided on the hashtags that you will be focusing on, create lists (this can be in any software - ‘notes’ on your phone, excel, etc). There are many options online for planning your insta strategy and they can store your hashtag lists for easy access when you need them (that’s for another post!). Take advantage of hashtag trends and social media days which attract a huge amount of traffic and can increase your exposure significantly. For a fun social media calendar which will give you some fun reasons to post, visit Hopper.
It’s important to use different hashtags for different posts - throwing mud at a wall generally does not stick and instagrams spam filter will block you if they feel that you are repeating the same hashtag list over and over and over again. Also, your followers will tire of this and you will see your engagement levels dropping so it’s important to be aware of this.
Hashtag generators - there are so many of them out there and it’s worth a free trial to see what they can do for you. We like allhashtag.com and the Influencer marketing hub generator (upload a photo and they will generate relevant hashtags - very cool!) but it is a personal preference!
30 hashtag rule. Instagram only allow a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. This means if you have 15 in your caption, then add 15 in one of your comments you have reached the limit.
Finally, you can use one hashtag in your bio… it’s worth it - select it carefully!
The engagement rate (ER) for instagram is a simple equation as outlined above. Engagement = likes + comments + shares/followers. Or in laymans terms, it’s the number of user likes, shares or comments on your posts divided by the number of followers you have. If you want to get really technical you can separate your ER into likes and comments Engagement rates, but generally any interaction with your post is considered ‘engagement’.
Finally, what is considered a good engagement rate?
Well, according to Influencer Marketing Hub , the average Instagram account has an engagement rate of 3%. Any engagement rate above that, combined with a high number of followers, suggests that you are an influencer amongst your peers. Don’t get too excited just yet! It’s easier to have a 3% rate when you have a small number of followers - the success is in maintaining this rate as your followers grow. Something we are working on too!