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Using hashtags on Instagram and any other social media platform has been known to help new creators reach their desired audience and boost their engagement on posts. Nowadays, many users have started to think that the more hashtags you use, the more likely your post will be discovered.
While hashtags can be a powerful marketing tool, it’s important to learn how to optimize your usage to prevent losing followers or getting lost in the millions of posts that are uploaded to Instagram each day.
Does Using Hashtags on Instagram Really Work?
When determining whether or not hashtags in general increase engagement, there is no definite answer. However, if you use hashtags deliberately, you’re bound to see increased metrics.
Patrick Whatman from Mention Memo writes that using hashtags incorrectly could actually harm your engagement, but he still recognizes that hashtags can still help you gain attention. How does this make sense, you might be asking?
For more insight into influencer marketing trends and statistics, read our 2022 Fastest Growing Creators report here.
Spam Magnets on Hashtags
Unfortunately, a lot of bot/spam accounts on Instagram are notorious for using popular hashtags to get their posts recognized, even if their post isn’t relevant to the hashtag. As a result, hashtag pages can become clogged with irrelevant posts or spam that discourages users to look up the hashtag being abused.
Sellers Choice considers some hashtags to be “spam magnets” because they negatively impact using hashtags on Instagram. The takeaway here is that popular hashtags can be an engagement killer, so choose your hashtags wisely before you post.
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Instagram Can ‘Ban’ Hashtags
That’s right, Instagram can ban certain hashtags. Hashtags can be temporarily or permanently banned, and because Instagram doesn’t provide users with a list of banned hashtags, it’s difficult to keep track.
According to Kicksta, hashtags can get banned if posts using the hashtag are found breaking Instagram’s Community Guidelines. Most of the users that abuse these hashtags are bots or spam accounts, and this makes things more difficult for rule-abiding influencers that want to be discovered.
If you use a hashtag that’s banned, your post will be hidden, and this harms your engagement rate. However, users will still be able to see your post on your profile, just not on the explore page. Kicksta has compiled a list of some banned hashtags as of 2022, but just to list a few, here are some hashtags you’ll want to refrain from using:
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Have you ever gone on Instagram, scrolled through your feed, and found a creator that posts interesting content without having to hook them up or use hashtags? That’s the power of improved algorithms on Instagram and other big social media platforms.
Based on the content you like, comment, and share, Instagram’s algorithm will show posts that fall under the same category of the posts you engage with the most. For example, if you follow and interact with a lot of artists on Instagram, the platform’s algorithm will show you more art-related posts even if you don’t follow the creators that show up on your feed, making hashtags usage unnecessary at times.
Check out this NeoReach blog to avoid making influencer marketing mistakes such as poor hashtag use.
How to Use Hashtags on Instagram
Hashtagging may not seem as powerful as it was when social media started becoming popular, but that doesn’t mean hashtags are useless. If anything, Instagram’s Creator Lab still encourages creators to use hashtags to get noticed!
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- Use relevant hashtags that fit your niche: Use hashtags that match the theme of your content. If you post a photo or video of you preparing to run a marathon, use hashtags that revolve around the activity you’re doing. If you know the location of the marathon or the name of the event, use hashtags that attract followers that are interested in that specific event. Active marathon runners and cardio fanatics are sure to find your post and engage.
- Use hashtags sparsely: Instagram’s Content Lab (@Creators) recommends using between 3 to 5 hashtags for increased engagement. Make sure you use hashtags that matter and won’t get lost in the millions of posts that are uploaded to Instagram each day. Branching out and using a bit more than the recommended amount can help with engagement rates, but be sure to use those hashtags wisely.
- Check what hashtags your current followers are using: Stay alert to what hashtags your followers are using on their posts. If you find a few hashtags that fit your niche, try using them on your next post to attract more fans that like what your current followers enjoy. Try to spice up your posts and use different hashtags to maximize your reach potential.
- Find out trending hashtags with analytic tools: Having a hard time finding what hashtags to use for your next post? The Influencer Marketing Hub has a great tool called Instagram Hashtag Generator that you can use to find some popular niche hashtags for your desired post. The Influencer Marketing Hub also recommends programs like Iconosquare, Hashtagify, and Ritetag.
- Add hashtags to your Instagram stories and bio: If you ever decide to create a hashtag for your own brand, consider adding it to your profile bio and future Instagram stories. Appropriate hashtagging can help your potential followers get connected.
- Stay connected with your followers: This is not so much of a hashtagging tip as it is a general tip – establish a relationship with your followers! In order to keep your followers engaged, respond to comments and cater to what they want to see next. A healthy relationship with your followers will make them feel valued and welcomed in your community.
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What to Avoid When Using Hashtags on Instagram
- Refrain from using popular or generic hashtags: Using overly generic or extremely popular hashtags might drown out your post among the others that get posted every day. Popular hashtags don’t always equate to higher engagements, so be sure to check which hashtag will help you get discovered.
- Don’t use hashtags that don’t relate to your content: If you use hashtags that don’t relate to your content, followers of that niche won’t be interested in your post. Never cater to an audience that isn’t going to be interested in your content; instead, find users that will be interested.
- Don’t use too many hashtags: The more hashtags the better, right? Not necessarily. If you use too many hashtags, your post might come off as spammy or annoying to potential followers. Excessive hashtagging might also encourage you to use unnecessary hashtags that might be too generic or popular. Find what amount works for you best, but remember that more isn’t always better.
- Don’t rely too much on hashtags: While hashtags are a great way to get discovered, don’t assume that hashtagging is the only thing you have to do to get noticed. Getting connected with potential sponsors and brands, fostering a good relationship with your fans, promoting your content on other platforms, and staying active is the best way to raise your engagement rate.