10 ways to use hashtags to grow Instagram

Sameera Afzaal // 03rd September 2017

At the end of June 2017, Instagram reported that it had 400 million daily active users of which 250 million were using Instagram stories actively.

In 60 seconds a whopping 65,972 photos are uploaded to Instagram.

As an Instagram user, you won’t even see 70% of the content produced by the user you follow.

So how do you make your content pop? One answer is hashtags.

Hashtags enable your content to become relevant to users looking and sharing content in similar niches and social spheres as you.

As a business, strategically mixing and placing your hashtags in the context of your overall posts can;

  1. Keeps your content relevant – puts you up in the algorithm.
  2. Allows you to be discoverable – by new users.
  3. Gives opportunity for your content to trend – who doesn’t love going viral.
  4. Helps you build a solid and unique social media presence.

However, the key is to be strategic – simply using hashtags to hope to “trend” often will just attract bots and automated engagement but being contextualising your hashtags will enable your content to pop up in the explore section to relevant followers and increase not only organic engagement but also your followers too.

Here are 10 ways you can use hashtags throughout your Instagram presence that will help with consistent growth;

  1. Focusing on the “lifestyle” of your consumers aka your niche

    This is really looking into the niches of what your consumer would associate with. Is your audience into #avotoast or all about the perfect #calivibes?!? Defining the digital persona of your audience will help your monopolise more hashtags while also aiding to diversify your content around your brand and your audience.

  2. Researching hashtags + Instag

    Research your audience and your competitor accounts.
    Go to the explore section on Instagram and type in the hashtag our intend to use. The key especially for a young brand is not to put your content into the most popular hashtags – this is because your content will get lost in the sea of content going under that hashtags.Instead, click on the most popular hashtag that you have search and follow through to “related hashtags” – this will show you hashtags are less popular and enable you to determine better-suited hashtags that will enable your content to be in the top posts of that hashtag – which means better engagement and more followers in the long run.Alternatively, check out Instag a website that helps you find the best hashtags possible.

  3. Create your own hashtag sets

    Don’t use the same set of hashtags every time you post. This doesn’t help your account at all. In fact, during shadowbans, accounts continuously using the same hashtags get marked.Instead, create your own sets. After you have done your hashtag research create a notes page on your phone that has multiple sets of 28-29 hashtags that relate to the content you share. In these sets have a combination of popular hashtags and less popular hashtags. This way you are ready to go when you are posting and have the best possible hashtags for the situation.

  4. Use branded hashtags to grow user-generated content for campaigns, contests, and content.

    Branded hashtags are also great for telling your story as a company. Maybe the hashtag represents a group of people that your brand caters or allows users to submit content like #balibody or #hismile

  5. Comment with branded hashtags 

    Trying to engage your niche audience?!? Spend time to comment authentically on photos you come across the hashtags you are engaging and when appropriate leave your brand hashtag at the end of your comment.This technique can also be used in photos you are tagged in but not necessarily hashtagged in.

  6. Engage at the right time with the right hashtags  

    Post at the most optimum time – if you post when your audience is most active on Instagram, you’re more likely to drive engagement to the post and this will translate into bumping your post higher in user feeds and on the explore page – which means more engagement and visibility.

  7. Using hashtags on Instagram Story

    Instagram Story is attracting the crowds and Instagram is constantly updating the features to expand engagement with content across stories and feeds.

    Use the hashtag sticker from the menu on your Instagram story post and it will go under the global story. As you can see below the story with the hashtag goes under the hashtag search and allows for your story to reach more audiences.

    You get more insights as well, just swipe up on your story and see all the eyeballs coming in.

  8. Put hashtags in your caption 

    It may not look as “Instagram worthy” but putting hashtags in your caption is essential for your post to start trending immediately.

  9. Deactivate and reactivate your Instagram

    Experiencing a decrease in your engagement then you have the option of deactivating your account for a couple of hours and reactivating at your peak time. This action bumps up all your posts as new posts under the hashtags when your account is reactivated.
    Warning – all the accounts tagged in your account will get a notification when the account is reactivated saying they have been “tagged in a post”

  10. Swipe up, shop more, explore more 

    Use the specific Instagram link to you branded hashtag feed and link it on your other platforms. This gives a more lifestyle aspect to your website or Facebook plug in. It gives visitors to your other platforms a taste of what they can expect from your feed rather than just showing them your feed.

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Sameera Afzaal

#SMPerth Intern
Sameera is a public relations and web communications graduate. She is social media obsessed and her favorite social app is Snapchat. She works across digital marketing, influencer relations, and content strategy. Sameera is a tech commentator for several platforms and she is also the Creative Director of DYNAMIQUE BLOG her life and style blog.


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