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Your Instagram success is largely built on your ability to find, research and use the right hashtags. But finding these hashtags can be difficult. 

Yes, there are a lot of other components, having a clear strategy, excellent images, a solid brand, consistent posting, and encouraging interaction and engagement.

However, if you aren’t using Hashtags effectively, all of those things will be done in vain – as it’s very difficult for people to find you without them.

What is a hashtag: It’s a word or phrase proceeded with a # hash symbol, it’s used to collate and collect similar themes so people can find other content they are interested in. They are used heavily on Instagram and Twitter.

Think of Hashtags as search terms for people finding you on Google – the better quality of the hashtags you use, the more traffic you’ll get, and the better that traffic will be. The more traffic you get, the better chance your Instagram account has for success.

So finding the best hashtags is obviously a high priority – but how do you go about finding them?

The biggest mistake I see people make is that they use the hashtags everyone else is using without thinking about who uses them. 

You want your hashtags to firstly match your image and be relevant, but most importantly be the kinds of hashtags that your IDEAL CUSTOMER will use when they make a post. 

So in the example of my business, I see a lot of my competitors using hashtags like #marketingagency #socialmediamanagement, etc. 

However, the people they are trying to target are never going to use those tags, instead, they might use tags like #hustle #startuplife #lifeofabusinessowner – you’ve got to think like your customer, it’s not about describing the picture in hashtag format.

Obviously, you’ll want to use a few hashtags for branding, for example, I always use #brightredmarketing and #marketingagency just so if anyone sees my post they know what I do, but after that – it’s all targeted hashtags. But the rest should serve a specific purpose.

So now that you know the basics of what kind of hashtag to use, how do you figure out the good ones from the bad? How do you know if it’s going to gain enough traction?

Well, there is an app for that…

Introducing: SM Audience – Hashtag Performance you can find it by clicking here! 

Essentially what you can do is investigate what your competitors are doing AND track your most successful hashtags from past posts.

Here is a look at one of my most recent posts.

As you can see I’m ranking highly for my #brightredmarketing tag – obviously, but I was also ranking higher for #entrepreneurinthemaking – whereas for all of my other tags I was way behind. 

It also tells me that I had quite a high engagement level of 11.39% for this post which is very high. Some accounts brag about their 2-5%, granted they are much larger accounts, but I was still impressed.

How do you use this information? By regularly assessing which hashtags are working for you, which aren’t, which have the potential to put you in the Top 9, and which have so much competition that you’ll never get anywhere with them.

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You can also use this site to check your competitors and see what their best performing hashtags are to see if they will work for you as well! Instead of typing your Instagram account into the search, just type theirs and you’ll get the same level of data.

Ideally, you want to have several categories of hashtags that you alternate through depending on the type of post, and you can use up to 30 in each post, so make the most of them!

Managing 30+ hashtags can sound like a nightmare, you can store them in a notes app on your phone, but I like easy options when I can find them and the Plann app is definitely the easy option.

Using an app like Plann is another great way to manage your hashtags. There is a section in the app where you can store and categorise your groups of 30 hashtags, and it makes posting a breeze. I love this app for many reasons, but its ability to manage hashtags is definitely up there.

My best advice is to use the SM Audience site to craft a couple of categories of 30 hashtags – or even just start with 30 to begin. 

Then run a couple of posts with those hashtags and see how they perform, take down the ones that are not performing, borrow a couple of ones that are from your competition and keep testing. 

Eventually, you’ll end up with a list of hashtags that will get your posts featured – and that’s when you will notice your account really start to boom.

Keep in mind that your hashtags will change over time, the hashtags that work now, might not work a few months down the line. 

Make it a regular part of your marketing plan to keep an eye on which tags are working, and which aren’t and you’ll soon be killing it on Instagram!

As much as Instagram is a visual platform, it’s the data behind it and knowing how it works that will see you succeed on Instagram – you can always try and do it by ‘getting lucky’ but the data will help you get there faster!

Happy Hashtag Hunting!


Dahna Borg

Author Dahna Borg

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