This is the story of a former hashtag hater. I used to think hashtags were ugly, tacky and looked a little bit desperate when I saw friends and businesses using them on their Instagram posts. But these days, hashtags are a normal (and accepted) part of Instagram. Most people use them and love them--and then there are those of us who might love them a little too much. I #think #you #know #what #Im #talking #about.
Hate them or not, they are a vital part of any Instagram strategy and are a key in finding and reaching your ideal customers and audience online. Did you know that posts with at least one hashtag average at least 12.6% more engagement?* Implementing hashtags strategically in your posts can help you grow your following and increase the reach and engagement on your Instagram posts.
Before you dive in, here's what you need to know about using hashtags strategically.
YOU CAN HAVE UP TO 30 HASHTAGS PER POST BUT...
There are lots of different philosophies about how to use those 30 hashtags. One philosophy is that if you are given 30 tickets to enter in a raffle, but you only play 5 of those tickets, you're missing out on opportunities. Another philosophy and one that I have been adhering to lately, is that Instagram is starting to crack down on people who post the same canned group of hashtags post after post after post. With that in mind, I keep a large pool of hashtags for my niche, pull from them regularly, and always try to change them up. Instead of using all 30 hashtags, I see better engagement when I use 10-15 that are refreshed regularly.
PUT 2-3 OF YOUR MOST RELEVANT HASHTAGS IN THE TEXT OF YOUR POST
and put the remainder of the hashtags you are using in the first comment.
STORE YOUR HASHTAGS IN THE NOTES APP ON YOUR PHONE
and then copy and paste them into your first comment. If you use an Instagram scheduler like Planoly,** (what I use and love for Instagram) you can store your hashtags right in the app.
USE HASHTAGS THAT ARE RELEVANT
to both your niche and your photo. Don't use #NationalSistersDay on a photo of your tomatoes just because you've seen the hashtag used all over your Instagram feed. Keep things relevant and cohesive with what you are sharing.
USE LOCATION BASED HASHTAGS
In this industry in particular, it is vital that your location is part of your hashtag strategy. As much as possible make your state, county or town part of the hashtags you use. #MDfarmer #supportMDfarms #harfordhasit are all examples of hashtags used in my area. Your customers will use these hashtags to find you and Instagram will also use these hashtags as indicators of your location--making them more likely to have your photos show up in potential customers' explore feed as well. You have to connect with your community and let your customers know where they can find you.
AS YOU ARE GROWING, USE SMALLER HASHTAGS
Did you know that the most popular hashtag on Instagram is #love? And did you know that there are 1.2 BILLION posts on Instagram using that hashtag? Using this hashtag and having any chance of someone seeing your photo among of sea of billions is practically impossible. As you are growing your business, focus on using hashtags with a smaller number of posts under that hashtag. I generally try to search for hashtags that have 100k or less posts but even smaller is even better! This way your photos have a better chance of being seen, discovered and clicked on.
WATCH WHAT HASHTAGS OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD ARE USING
When I am doing hashtag research, I always make sure I am checking out what other people in my field are using and what hashtags my potential customers are using. I want to know where they are "hanging out" on Instagram and use my hashtags strategically to find them. Bonus tip: When I see an account using hashtags well, or a particular photo with great hashtags I want to study later I take a quick screenshot or I bookmark the photo and come back to it later so I won't forget.
ORGANIZE YOUR HASHTAGS BY TOPIC
Since changing up hashtags regularly is an important part of a smart hashtag strategy, I like to search for hashtags according to different topics or themes that I post about regularly. Most of my Instagram posts follow 5-7 different themes like social media tips, the cattle or sheep on our farm, working from my farmhouse, etc. So when I work to collect my hashtags, I search for them with these themes in mind. Then when I post a photo of my sheep, I have a group of sheep-related hashtags ready to go and I can can copy and paste them into my post.
BE ACTIVE ON THE HASHTAGS YOU ARE USING
Let the hashtags you are using be the place where you find your community on Instagram. I have a handful of hashtags that are my favorite place to hang out on Instagram for both inspiration and growth of my business. Before and after I post my photos, I make sure I spend a little time engaging with the people using those hashtags. I will like photos, comment and oftentimes follow new accounts I've discovered.
Get all these tips on a one-sheet checklist AND a sample of the hashtag planning sheet by clicking below!
Above all else, I'm a firm believer in keeping social media social. Yes, hashtag strategy is one of the most important ways to grow your Instagram following and help your customers find you, but above all, it is a place to connect, serve and support others. If that is your number one goal on Instagram--growth is sure to follow.
No time to do your own hashtag research?
Grab my ULTIMATE list of hashtags for agriculture and farm-based businesses HERE. You'll get a list of 125+ hashtags I have personally curated and use in my own Instagram strategy, my hashtag planning sheet and tips for for how to implement the hashtags and guide right away. Click over to my shop, grab the instant download, and get to growing right away!
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