I feel like everyone attempting to grow their page on Instagram at the moment has felt the effects of the new algorithms. People are noticing that their interaction and engagement is down, and are scrambling for a reason why. And although I am still just as confused about the new algorithm as you are, the one thing that I have found that consistently works for me is the effective use of hashtags. Whenever I am going through a slump, I can rely on hashtags to make sure my photos are (hopefully) showing up on the right pages and when I use them right, I can get thousands of clicks solely through my hashtags.
So these are my top tips for using hashtags right!
So what is an Instagram hashtag?
Hashtags are primarily used to categorise information, and make it easier to search for and find. For example, if you wanted to make yourself even more depressed about being in lockdown, you could search #travel to find all photos that fall into that category. They are also clickable, which means that if you hashtag a certain word, your followers can click on the hashtag to see all other images using that particular hashtag!
(How many times can someone use the word 'hashtag' in one single blog post? We are about to find out).
Why should I use hashtags?
Hashtags are a really important way to bring people to your page, and expand your audience! You can use them in both posts on your feed and within your stories, which would then also show up on the page for that particular hashtag. Remember that people can also choose to 'follow' a hashtag, which means your page may be discovered through that by people who aren't even following. This is a great way to get authentic followers to your page.
How To Use Them Right:
1) Stay Relevant
I have read a lot of articles that claim that the new algorithm doesn't like irrelevant hashtags, and your account will be penalised for doing this. An example of irrelevant hashtags is tagging '#ThaiFood' on a photo of you in your garden in England. This is frustrating for both your immediate followers, and people who are searching for that hashtag through the search bar, as they are faced with a load of irrelevant content. Remember that you always want to be reaching your target audience- there's no point someone seeing your photo who has no interest in what you are posting about!
2) Don't Follow The Crowd
It's sometimes tempting to use the most popular hashtags, especially when you can see they've been used millions and millions of times. Millions of tags means millions of people are searching that hashtag, so your photo is more likely to be seen, right? Wrong. Bear in mind that if all these people are using the same hashtag (as an example, I have just searched #travel on Instagram and found it has been used 503 million times) then your post will get lost in the sea of photos very quickly.
In comparison, if you try to use less popular hashtags, your post will stay higher for longer, and therefore have a better chance of being seen by more people! This can be achieved by really small changes- e.g instead of using '#travel' (503 million), use #travelling (6 million). For me, I have found I get the best results when using a mixture of the higher ranking hashtags, and the much less popular ones.
3) Don't Just Repeat the Same Hashtags
Let's be real for a moment- hashtagging is boring. Especially if you are trying to be smart about it, and attempting to come up with less popular ones. I find it one of the most time consuming parts of posting a photo, and sometimes I can be so tempted to just reel off the same generic list as on a previous photo. However, when I do give into the devil on my shoulder, I find my engagement is so much lower! I've read that this could be due to the new algorithm- Instagram is trying to be a lot more 'interactive', so someone copy and pasting hashtags doesn't bode well. So my advice would be don't use the same generic hashtags over and over again- eg '#wanderlust' '#beautiful' '#exploring'.
4) Use Different Combinations
As I just discussed, thinking of 30 hashtags for one single photo can be really hard! One effective trick I use is using different combinations of the same hashtag. This not only means you are hitting the less used options, but also quickly filling up those spaces! For example, rather than just tagging #blog, I will tag #travelblog #blogger #blogging #bloggerlifestyle. Simple but effective!
5) Know Your Audience
Most importantly of all, know your audience and target your audience! This is pretty basic but needs to be at the forefront of your mind at all times. Sometimes I will be happily hashtagging away phrases like '#fashion' '#ootd' and I will have to stop and remind myself that I am primarily a travel blog. Although it pays to branch out a little, it is key to mainly zero in on one category and stick to it. The majority of my audience is travel related, so my hashtags should reflect that.
So those are my top tips for using hashtags effectively on Instagram! Hope these help and would love to hear your own top tips! Happy hashtagging!