hashtag do's and don'ts

You know that pound sign on your keyboard…yep, the craze on social media and Instagram! My son even came home with a cute picture drawn by a girl with #firstkiss! Everyone knows what hashtags are, even 4th graders.

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So what exactly should you do with hashtags to help your business?

First and foremost, what’s a hashtag?  Hashtags are a simple way to define your text to make your post searchable. Think of hashtags as search engines for Instagram.

hashtag do's and don'ts

Here are three do’s and three don’ts for using hashtags.

Hashtag Do’s

  1. Use a mix of hashtags. To be discoverable I suggest using a mix of searchable terms, locations, geographic terms and industry terms. What do I mean? If you are a fitness professional, you’ll want to mix up your hashtags, like using #fitnessworkout or #bodyfitness (which are searchable terms,) then try #goldsgym (location), #fitnessinchicago (geographic term) or #beachbodyfitness (industry term.) Try to use a mix of hashtags to increase your chances of being discoverable.
  2. Hashtag size. This is an important one. You want your posts to be visable, right? So you might search for popular hashtags and start using them thinking this is the right thing to do. Wrong! This can actually hurt you. The more a hashtag is used, the faster your post travels down the feed. I recommend using hashtags with less than 500,000 posts. The smaller the hashtag, the more likely your post will be discovered.
  3. Use all 30 hashtags. For each post in Instagram you can use up to 30 hashtags. You have the option to put the hashtags within your post, or in the comments. Whichever you choose, try to use all 30 hashtags.  The more hashtags you use, the more discoverable you become. Instagram actually encourages users to use all 30 hashtags.  It’s also important to be ready to post your hashtags as soon as you publish your post.  This gets your post working in the Instagram algorithm instantly.

Hashtag Don’ts

  1. This might be an obvious one, but DON’T eliminate hashtags from any post. Simply putting a photo out on Instagram with no hashtags is like throwing a picture out of a plane and hoping someone will find it.
  2. Don’t use hashtags that are not related to your photo or text. This can confuse and irritate users and eventually they will not follow or trust you. Instagram is all about relationships, so don’t ruin them by using misleading hashtags.
  3. Don’t abuse hashtags. Have you heard of the term “shadowbanned?” This is when a hashtag has been banned on Instagram (because the content does not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.) How do you know if a hashtag has been banned? In Instagram, use the magnifying glass and type in a hashtag. You may see a few pictures, but a notification indicates the hashtag has been abused.

So the reality is millions of users are using hashtags daily on Instagram to gain attention.  If you’re using hashtags and not seeing BIG results, don’t get discouraged.  It takes time on Instagram to build your audience.  Think of hashtags as a tool.  Hashtags help you get discovered over time.

Now that you’re ready to tackle hashtags, how are your photos faring on Instagram? I struggled with photography until I discovered Styled Stock Photography.  Gorgeous photos for female entrepreneurs and I’ve used many of them on this site and on Instagram.  Are you ready to curate and brand your Instagram Grid? Awesome! Click here to do so.  Also, don’t forget to join my tribe and get all the latest Instagram and social media news and tips right to your inbox!

Now go start using those hashtags!