In recent years, social media has taken the world by storm, reinventing the way we connect and communicate with others. Instagram has become one of the most popular, with over a billion active users.
Initially, Instagram was primarily for posting photos. But with other video-forward platforms entering the marketplace, Instagram began to push it’s creators to make video content with the advent of reels and it’s story component. This means that even more content being added to the platform on a daily basis. The amount of content being generated on Instagram daily, means that it’s more difficult to stand out now then ever before. To insure your followers, or people who fit your target audience profile, are able to find your content in such a saturated space, I’ve learned that hashtags can make all of the difference.
Consequently, one of the most important features for visibility on Instagram is the use of hashtags.
Why Use Hashtags?
Hashtags on Instagram are essentially a way of categorizing content. They allow users to search for, and discover, content related to specific topics, interests, or communities. When a user adds a hashtag to their post, it becomes searchable by anyone who is interested in that particular topic.
For example, if a user posts a photo of a new notebook available in their shop and adds the hashtag #notebooklover, anyone who searches for this hashtag will be able to see that particular post. The key here is to use hashtags relevant to the image or video or reel you’re posting.
Experts debate on how many hashtags to use per post; the maximum number of hashtags allowed is thirty. I don’t have the answer here, it really seems to vary by account and the content being posted. I typically advocate for people to use all thirty hashtags as long as they are relevant to the photo. You want to make certain that the hashtags you use are relevant to the photo being posted. If you use hashtags that deviate too far from the image posted, there may be consequences. Such as the possibility that your account might get shadowbanned.
Shadowbanned on Instagram
It appears that there are a number of ways an account can get shadowbanned. Some common ways are if you are improperly using hashtags, using the same hashtags repetitively, or using hashtags that violate Instagram’s community guidelines.
Shadowban – block (a user) from a social media site or online forum without their knowledge, typically by making their posts and comments no longer visible to other users.
By incorrectly using hashtags, I mean adding #springcolors on a photo of your dog playing in the snow. Or use the hashtag #morningroutine on an image or video about a dinner recipe. Faux pas like these can get flagged by the algorithm as being spammy. Thus resulting in your account possibly being shadowbanned.
Using heavily saturated hashtags such as #morningmood, #flowers, or even #spring can get you shadowbanned. Especially if the hashtag itself has been marked as shadowbanned. A hashtag itself can end up being shadowbanned if a lot of people are consistently using it incorrectly.
Additionally, keep in mind that if you’re using a hashtag that’s been used 600,000+ times already, chances are your post will easily get buried in that particular hashtag’s post page.
Third-party apps such as Flick are especially helpful when researching hashtags and trying to see which ones are relevant or even shadowbanned. Using Flick takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and makes finding relevant hashtags easier. As I’m sure you know from experience, searching each hashtag individually on Instagram can be a time-consuming and hefty task.
The Benefits of Hashtags
That all being said though, when used correctly hashtags can be wildly beneficial to you. A few of the benefits are…
Hashtags allow users to reach a wider audience. When a user adds a hashtag to their post, it becomes visible to anyone who searches for that particular hashtag. This means that users who may not be following you can still discover your content. For businesses or individuals looking to grow their audiences on Instagram, using hashtags can be an effective way to reach new followers and potential customers.
Hashtags allow you to target a specific audience. By using relevant hashtags, you can ensure that your content is seen by people who are interested in that particular topic. This can be particularly valuable for businesses or individuals who are trying to reach a specific demographic. For example, an African-American lifestyle influencer may use the hashtag #blackinfluencer to reach an audience interested in style and lifestyle content from Africian-American content creators.
Additionally, hashtags can help you build your brand and increase your online presence. By consistently using a branded hashtag, businesses, and individuals can create a sense of community around their brand. This can help them to connect with their audience and build a loyal following. For example, we use #effiespaper on almost all of our posts and we encourage our customers to share photos of themselves with our products using our branded hashtag.
Hashtags can also be used to help you organize your content. By using relevant hashtags, users can group their content by topic, making it easier for others to discover and engage with. This can be particularly helpful for businesses or individuals who have a lot of content related to a specific topic. For example, last year for the launch of our products at Walmart, we used the hashtag #effiespaperatwalmart to make our Walmart-specific content easy to search and find.
And lastly, hashtags can help you get increased engagement on your posts. When a user adds a hashtag to their post, it becomes searchable by anyone who is interested in that particular topic. This means that users who may not be following you can still discover your content and engage with it. This can lead not only to more likes, comments, and shares, which can help to increase the post’s visibility and reach but to new followers too.
Make Sure To…
Now that you know how beneficial hashtags can be, I hope you’re feeling inspired to come up with your own hashtag strategy. The most important takeaway from this post is to make sure you are: (1) researching relevant hashtags and (2) consistently using a fresh mix of them to avoid having your account get shadowbanned.
Nothing hurts your engagement like having your content hidden for weeks at a time.
Now that’s the tea on hashtags! Do you have any other tips & tricks to share? Let me know!
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