The art of Instagram hashtags is something many companies try to master. After all, hashtags are an essential part of the Instagram experience. A single tag on your post can equate to a higher percentage of engagement. All you need to do is find the right hashtags.
Tags on Instagram are a multi-purpose tool. They tell your audience what your post is about and allow you to create customer affinity. Tags help your customers to find your content, and they can even generate new awareness for your business. However, not all Instagram hashtags are created equal.
We’ll examine popular hashtags and look at the most common reasons you shouldn’t rely exclusively on them for your Instagram efforts.
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Top 3 Reasons Not To Use Popular Hashtags On Instagram
Instagram has different kinds of hashtags. There are community tags, that link your post to a specific collection of people, and location tags, that highlight a certain space, like #NYCity. You can even create branded hashtags that highlight your brand name, or a campaign.
Popular hashtags on Instagram are the ones that appear most often on the platform. The hashtag #Love, for instance, has literally millions of posts attached to it.
Other popular hashtags include #InstaGood, #TBT, #PhotoOfTheDay, and countless others. If a hashtag has more than 1 million posts attached to it, it’s probably pretty popular. So, why shouldn’t you add these tags to your content?
1. Your Posts Will Get Lost
Using hashtags with millions of posts attached to them means that you’re competing with way too many users for your place on the “top posts” section of Instagram search. If customers click on a hashtag on Instagram, they’ll see all the posts associated with that tag. However, since millions of new posts emerge all the time, an image with a popular hashtag will quickly fall into the abyss.
The whole purpose of using hashtags on Instagram is to connect with your audience and get more eyes on your content. With that in mind, it’s best to choose hashtags that are a little less popular. We’d recommend sticking to under 300,000 posts if possible. Instead of #Friendship:
Try #MakingNewFriends as a way to add more context to your post and narrow down the number of competitors you need to fight against. Choosing a less popular hashtag means that you don’t instantly lose any chance to attract new eyes on Instagram’s Top and Recent posts section.
2. Your Account Will See More Spam
A lot of popular hashtags are common among spam accounts. The idea is that you post as many images as possible with popular tags and interact with other people who are searching for people to “like” and follow their accounts. Tags like #HashtagsforLikes may get you some initial engagement from people who will follow you initially, but you won’t get any genuine engagement.
Finding success with hashtags on Instagram isn’t just about gathering as many followers as you can. Quality counts much more than quantity. You need to make sure that you’re reaching customers who can actually connect with your company in the long-term.
3. Popular Hashtags Are Too Generic
Speaking of attracting quality followers, it’s worth noting that most of the popular hashtags on Instagram today are very generic. Sure #Love and #Happy might speak to a lot of people – but they don’t say anything about what you’re actually posting, and they won’t reach a specific audience.
Like any marketing or branding effort, your Instagram hashtag campaigns need to be targeted. You want tags that are going to generate the most attention from the right audience – not just any audience. Specific hashtags might be less popular, but they give you an opportunity to focus on a specific kind of customer or fan.
For instance, say you’re a company selling designer knee-high boots. If you don’t sell other kinds of shoes, using the tag #Shoes will bring tons of leads to your store that aren’t looking for what you have to offer. Anyone searching for sandals, heels, brogues, or workman boots is going to scroll on by.
Alternatively, the term #KneeHighBoots is targeted and specific. It tells your customers exactly what you have to offer and ensures that the people who find and follow you, are those who actually want to buy what you’re selling.
3 Reasons To Use Popular Hashtags On Instagram
Popular hashtags are rarely the best way to make an impact on Instagram – at least when you’re using them on their own. However, there are a few ways that you can use these tags successfully too. Sometimes, the right blend of popular and niche hashtags can boost your chances of success.
1. Not All Popular Hashtags Are Spammy
A lot of the most popular hashtags on Instagram like #Love and #Friend are meaningless, spammy words that don’t do anything for your online presence. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, using a popular hashtag is a great way to show your audience that you speak their language. Using a good combination of popular, and more specific hashtags can strengthen the relationship you build with your audience.
For instance, the popular hashtag #TBT stands for Throwback Thursday. It’s a very popular tag with millions of posts connected to it. However, it’s also a great way to join your audience in a popular practice of sharing older photos on a specific day of the week. Using #TBT can give consistency to your Instagram posts, and strengthen your visibility.
To make the most out of these popular hashtags, make sure that you use some specific tags alongside them. This will give your posts more context and depth.
2. Not All Hashtags Are Created Equal
Some hashtags will make your profile on Instagram seem spammy and basic. Others will help you to connect with your audience on a deeper level. The only way to honestly figure out what’s going to work for your brand is to experiment.
Most companies and influencers find that they get the best results when they use the right combination of popular, location, and branded hashtags. To see what works for you, start by using a hashtag generator to get some inspiration. All you need to do is enter a hashtag or term you’re thinking of using, like #GreenTea.
Once your hashtag tool gives you some ideas, you can try using a combination of different niche and popular hashtags in various posts, then track your success with Instagram Insights.
Over time, you’ll get a sense for which tags your customers respond to best. Some of these hashtags are likely to be popular options, while others will be more specific. The only way to get the right combination is to experiment.
3. You Can Use Popular Hashtags To Create Great Captions
It’s easy to overlook Instagram captions. Most companies are so focused on making their images look amazing, that they forget how to inspire and engage their audience with the caption. However, the extra information you include with your post can make a huge difference to your online presence.
With popular hashtags, you can create more powerful Instagram captions that inspire your audience and highlight the nature of your brand. Remember, your customers look to your captions to learn more about the image you’re sharing. However, they’re also looking for insights into the kind of company or group you’re building.
This post from Outdoor voices is an excellent example of how a hashtag can add more depth to a post and contextualize what the image is about.
Crucially, using hashtags in your captions is an excellent way to keep your content short and sweet. Lengthy pieces of text are rarely the most effective option on Instagram. Your audience is likely to be scrolling through your content on their smartphone. They don’t have time to stop and read a wall of text.
Hashtags give more information without using up valuable characters.
Making The Most Of Popular Hashtags
Popular hashtags have their positives and negatives to consider. On the one hand, a popular hashtag can be an excellent way to connect with a wider audience, grow your Instagram, and add context to your captions. On the other hand, popular hashtags can also mean that your posts get lost in a stream of updates and attract generic followers rather than potential fans and customers.
The key to getting the most out of popular hashtags is knowing how to use them correctly. Don’t just stick with hashtags that seem to get the most attention on Instagram. Create a strategy that helps to drive more relevant followers towards your brand. Use your popular hashtags as part of a comprehensive plan that includes branded tags and niche terms too.
Trending hashtags can be a useful part of your Instagram campaign. The key to success is making sure that you don’t forget to put the rest of the puzzle pieces together too.
Chris Mcdonald has been the lead news writer at complete connection. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. Chris is also an author of tech blog Area19delegate. He likes spending his time with family, studying martial arts and plucking fat bass guitar strings.