Wondering "all things" Instagram hashtags? What is the main purpose of hashtags? How do you choose the best hashtags? How do you find your ideal audience through hashtags?


Wondering “all things” Instagram hashtags? What is the main purpose of hashtags? How do you choose the best hashtags? How do you find your ideal audience through hashtags?

Your burning questions on hashtags are answered today by Sandie DeMarco. Sandie is the founder of Sociallybranded which is a social media management agency that partners with Real Estate professionals to build their digital presence. Sandie has developed a custom management plan that is a hybrid service, part done-for-you and part done-with-you.

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Wondering "all things" Instagram hashtags? What is the main purpose of hashtags? How do you choose the best hashtags? How do you find your ideal audience through hashtags?


Full transcription available at the bottom of this blog post

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Full transcription:

Today’s episode is all about Instagram hashtags. And I brought on a social media manager, Sandy DeMarco founder of socially branded to answer hashtag questions directly from our community. The questions are really juicy, so let’s get to it.

Hey everyone.

Welcome back to the show. And today we are diving into hash tags. Yes. The ultimate topic of hashtags, what to do with them? How do we organize them? Should we be using all of them? Just a few. So my guest today and my friend Sandy DeMarco is here and she is going to help us out. We’re going to talk about hashtags and then I also have questions from you guys. You guys submitted some great questions, so we’re going to be doing a Q and a and before we dive in to the topic, welcome Sandy to the show. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. This will be fun. It will be fun. And I know it’s going to be loaded with a ton of information, but before we dive into hashtags, please tell us who you are and give us a little insight to your business.

All righty. Well, my name is Sandy DeMarco and my business is called socially branded. And what I do is I help specifically help real estate agents kind of get their game on with their social media. Usually they have zero to very little social media presence, but they recognize the importance of being online and marketing and in like the best place ever. And so we help them. We do this a hybrid, uh, kind of plan where we do some done for you, some done with you, some coaching, things like that. And really, um, we really get them, their brand, you know, aware, uh, their brand awareness out, you know, just really kind of get their authority set and, you know, have them shine on social media and get those, those leads generate those leads. And I love what you do Sandy. And we’ve known each other for quite some time now. And I really want our listeners to understand that even though you work with realtors specifically, let me tell you guys, Sandy is a wealth of knowledge and I always call her. I refer to Sandy as the content queen. So just because she works with realtors, trust me, you are going walk away with so

Many nuggets that you can take her strategies, her tips, and apply it to your business. So we’re going to dive right in and I am going to shoot you a loaded question, Sandy, what is the name?

Right? We’re just coming out of the gate. Oh yeah, that’s good. It’s a good one though. It’s really good.

The main purpose. Yeah. What is the main purpose of hashtags on Instagram?

Awesome. Well, that’s a great question. It is to get your post seen by your target market. I, and that’s my answer anyway, you know, hashtags are the fuel of Instagram and without them, you’re pretty much like in Instagram, purgatory, you’re being held captive by the algorithm, you know, and if we’re lucky and we post without hashtags, you know, we might be seen, but the hashtags are really the fuel and it is so that we’re seen by our target market.

Okay. So I love that answer and I totally agree with you. Now. We know that we should be using hashtags. And I think most of our entrepreneurs on Instagram trying to grow a presence and a brand, they are trying to utilize hashtags, but now we’re going to jump into some Q and a from the, my audience. And my first question comes from Sheila Allie, and she’s a personal stylist and you can find her on Instagram at women in style. Her question is, how do I choose the best hashtags and what should I be considering?

Mm Oh, I love these kinds of questions. These questions, these are great. They are all juicy. So the best hashtags are the ones that your, your audience can find you in and where you can find your audience. And so, and it’s always, it’s not always the same place. So I know that sounds weird. You know, like when we get into the strategy, you’ll start getting the flow of things, but you choose the best hashtags by considering your audience. So, like I said earlier, like you need to know who your target market is, your target, your ideal client. I’m sure Alison, you have taught this so many times over and over again. And I know that people get that and like, Oh, well everyone’s my client. Well, they’re really not, you know, you have an ideal client, you know, listen, just think if you’re working with somebody and they can’t pay you, are they your ideal client?

No. You know, so we just really, really need to hone in on who our ideal client is and you need to know them so well, you need to know where they’re hanging out in the hashtag hubs. So the hubs in case, you know, I’m sure a lot of you guys already know the hubs are like the holding place of every post that has ever used that one hashtag. So that’s why it keeps saying hubs. Um, so like when you’re choosing, here’s a good example and you might get this house. And, um, when you’re choosing hashtags, if you’re a photographer, let’s just say, you’re a photographer and you specialize in those graduation photos. You’ve got to think of who that person is that you’re marketing to. You’re not marketing to that senior, that, you know, kid in high school, you’re marketing to his mom, his mom’s the one that’s purchasing and she wants to look, she is the one who you need to target.

So we need to know where mom is, you know, like sometimes, okay, so they’re involved in sports. They might be in hashtags that are the local schools, the sports teams, the parks and recs, shopping malls, you know, community hashtags like your city and state, and always make sure you add the state. Um, maybe they like wine, their coffee houses. So you’re thinking of mom. So really knowing where mom hangs out and then those are the hashtags you’re going to go out out and look for. So those are the best ones. The best ones are the ones that your audience can find you in.

And do you think it’s a really good idea to be mixing hashtags like between like a location hashtag, um, a lifestyle hashtag that kind of stuff. Do you think it’s always a good idea to mix them?

I’m okay with that, honestly, because it’s just, you know, you’ve got 30 hashtags that Instagram allows you to use as 30 opportunities to get in. And, you know, w the thing is, is there 30 opportunities, sorry, uh, you know, we’re to get in their face, you know, so why not? I don’t, I don’t see why not.

Awesome. All right. Here’s the second question. And it comes from Pam Carey and she’s in the health and wellness space, and you can find PM on Instagram at Pam, Carrie, Carrie is C a R Y. Now she asks what is the recommended number of hashtags to use on a post and is the more, is better theory for hashtags beneficial.

Hmm. Pam, that’s a good one too. Yeah, sure. All good ones. Okay. So this is where the question is going to have a different answer for each business, in my opinion. Okay. So, um, in case you don’t know, like social media is one key, huge test. We are constantly like testing what works for our account and what works for our account may not work for, you know, my accounts might not work for Alison’s account, you know, all of that stuff. So you have to realize you have to be in for the test and you have to test these theories out. Right. Um, so, you know, like I answered before, it’s, you know, uh, Instagram allows you 30 hashtags per post. Um, and so I don’t find that there’s an actual recommended amount of hashtags, um, that are going to be foolproof. All right. So again, testing is going to be your friend.

And, um, you know, like I said, you’ve got 30 opportunities to get in front of your target audience, and that is true, but some people do think less is more, some people, and it might be true for their accounts. It really depends on your audience and your account, what you’re doing. You know, I always have, you know, say, you know, set aside that 30, 20, 10, whatever you choose and keep testing, you know, each group of, of, um, hashtags on each post and just see what happens. So I really can’t give you a full proof answer for that. It really is all in putting the work in and finding out what works for your account and your analytics are going to be your good friend.

And I’m so glad you did say you have to put in the work and tests, because really that’s what it comes down to. If you want to be successful on Instagram and use the hashtag, you actually have to put in the work. Now I do have a follow-up question to Pam’s does size matter. And what I mean by that is the size of the hashtag hub. What is your strategies or recommendations when it comes to size?

I do think it CA it does matter. And it also depends on your account too. I mean, if you’re a huge, like, influencer account, like those big hubs, they’re going to be okay for you. You’re going to have the amount of likes and stuff like that to be shown in the explore page and all that good stuff. But when you’re a small town like us, you know, like I, a lot of my clients with whoever I work with is local. So we really stay as local and then small too, because we can network with these people, you know, like we can actually get to know these people. I, you know, I always say, you know, get into your local city and state ones. Uh, so I live in Gilbert, Arizona, so I put Gilbert AC or Gilbert, Arizona. And let me tell you, as I network in there, I am meeting these people in the community as I go out and live just like they’re doing.

And that networking is so super strong. I’ve gotten so many, you know, not so many issues, so many, but a lot of clients that way and referrals that way. So I think that, yeah, staying well, if you’re a smaller business, I think staying somewhere more small and local, even if you’re online, even if you’re online business and you’re not in a local space, like an outdoor, you know, brick and mortar or anything like that, um, it’s really good to stay in that, those smaller things, because, you know, you’ll be quote unquote, working your hashtags. And I don’t know, maybe we’ll talk about that soon too, but, um, when you do all that stuff, you know, you’ve gotta be able to handle it and you want to reach those real people that are reachable for your content.

Love it. Now, next, we have a two part question from Suzie Aguilar. She is the host of the, she embraces fear podcast. And you can find Susie on Instagram at unorthodox business mom, her questions are any tips on how to group hashtags for what I do. And is it better to have them in stories or posts or both? So let’s start with that first one. What tips do you have on grouping hashtags? Cause I know a lot of women struggle with that.

I know, and it, you know, it’s funny cause I struggled with it too. I’m like, Oh my gosh, I have to come up with 10 here, five here, you know, all of this stuff. And I got down to it. And again, it really has everything to do with your target audience. Um, and, but grouping them, you know, like, okay, um, when you create groups for tags like this, you specific you’re specific to your audience. So a group can be of hashtags can be specific to your audience. Who’s seeing your posts. Okay. Then you can group things like trending, like chip Tuesday, wisdom, Wednesday foodie Friday. And this is going to draw all of the all kinds of people. Okay. Not necessarily your target market. Okay. So remember this, you know, you really want to stick to that target audience, but at the same time, your exposure is going to be reached.

And what happens with when you do like tip Tuesday, wisdom Wednesday, and they’re not your target audience, you are getting some algorithm fund in there. You know, people are starting to like your post, your post is now getting a little bit more engagement, you know, interaction and may be pushed out to more people. So that would be like a strategy of why you would use those. If they’re not really so much in your, um, you know, target audience, like those types of people, all right. Another way you can group is, you know, you want a groups of them that are specific to your photo, right? So sometimes it could be about ice cream or something. And it really has nothing to do with social media. We could always tie social media with that, but with anything at this point, but you know, it’s, you you’d get group of like that.

You’re sitting in state, like I said, there’s another group for local businesses, you know, even, you know, it’s considered your aunt, this is all considered your online networking, you know? Um, and then I always say, of course, don’t forget to create a group of hashtags that you might not use in your posts all the time, but that you go looking for your, your clients in. Okay. Okay. So if we go back to that photographer example, you know, that I shared earlier, you know, the school, your posts may not be appropriate to be in the hash and the hashtag hub of maybe the sports teams, but you will go into those hashtags looking for your people. You see what I’m saying? So you have this one group of hashtags that may not be what gets put on your posts when you post, but that you are actually working those hubs to go find your already audience.

Awesome answer. And I also, um, I like to do like podcast categories of what I namely talk about. So I will have, I use plantarly to schedule my posts and you have a section in there to create hashtag hubs, which is really great. So I have a category for mompreneur life. I have a category for podcast episodes. I have a category for Instagram branding, personal branding. Like I have all these different categories and some of my hashtags will cross over to different categories, but what’s so great is you do all of the upfront work because that’s what needs to be done. And I put them in there. And then when I go to posts, all I have to do is click on that category and it’ll add all the hashtags and I just double check to make sure that they are relevant to not only the content that I’ve written, but I make sure it’s relevant as well and or to my photo. So a time saver for sure.

Yeah, that is great. And you know, what else is it really interesting tip is make sure you’re spelling your words, right? Cause it’s all smashed together and I’ve done this before. I’m like, why is my post not showing up? Oh my gosh, I spelled it wrong when I filled up a hashtag and how many posts did I do that? Cause I’m cutting and pasting, you know? So it makes sure you’re spelling it. Right.

Let’s talk about the second part of Suzy’s question. Is it better to have that in stories or posts or both?

Oh my gosh. My answer is hashtags everywhere. They are the fuel of Instagram stories feeds post IGT V reels. I did notice that when I didn’t put my reels hashtags on there, I got nothing. Um, but you know, there are differences in the usage of, in each place too. So, you know, in your feed, your feed is going to, you know, you want to be super specific with that, with your feed posts because they are going to your target market now in your stories, because my only reasoning for this is that sometimes we don’t even know where those hashtags actually go on stories, but because I can never find a lot of things in stories, but, um, but so we use like the bigger hashtag hubs there. So that more eyeballs are getting into your, um, into your story. Um, you know, like I GTV and reels, you know, there’s different, like I said, there’s just different things that you use to fuel that feature of Instagram. So yes, hashtags everywhere. Um, and you definitely want to make sure that you’re knowing, you know, which hashtags you’re using in each different place though.

So just to summarize hashtags are really your gateway to visibility and to being discovered, and it’s a constant test. What works today may not work for you next week. So for example, right now, what I’m noticing as we record this episode for Instagram reels, I notice when I only use three or four hashtags, my visibility goes through the roof and I am being discovered through the export tabs. So it’s interesting that they allow you to do 30. Now, when I use 30 in my posts that works better than if I were to only use three or four, but for some reason with Instagram reels, I noticing three or four hashtags results and more visibility. So you really have to pay attention to your, um, to your insights. And I also want to mention, and I’m sure you’ll agree with this with me, Sandy is you also, you cannot just make your list of hashtags and you’re done. You have to make sure that you go in there at some point in the future and check out that hashtag hub because the content within that hub could change and no longer align with your brand or your message. And you may not want to associated with that hashtag and I’ve had that happen.

Now that is a great story because I did want to point that out is like don’t ever use a hashtag. You have not researched, like if you have not checked that hashtag hub, please do not do that. And if I could share kind of a, I dunno if this is kind of a funny story, but like you’ve just said that you had it happen to you. So one of my clients also did that. She, um, hopefully this is appropriate to share, but she, she mentioned how, um, she made up a hashtag servicing, you know, it was called, Oh, what was it? Serious inquiries only because she didn’t want to deal with people who were just gonna, you know, you know, lollygag and just ask her a bunch of questions and, Oh boy did. I knew that I, when she told me that, I said, Oh gosh, did you post that yet? She says, yeah. And I go, okay. So I went over to best tag hub and yeah, it was definitely not appropriate for her innocent smiling face to be there in that serious inquiries. Only hashtag hub.

Only imagine I can only imagine how many sugar daddies were in that hashtag hub, right.

Or even the attraction to the sugar daddies. The

First thing that popped to my head with that

One, it didn’t pop to her as she was being very innocent. And, uh, yeah, we quickly took that one down. So yeah, definitely making sure that you research each and every hashtag don’t just, you know, and that is even happened to me where I’ve, you know, I just keep telling you guys use your, your city and your state. I’ve done that here as well. Use one of the cities, um, that are close by me. But someone had like, uh, totally taken over that hashtag hub with swimsuit models and had nothing to do with the city or in the state. But he was the only one posting and they were all swimsuit models and it was his photography and stuff. But so now it wasn’t appropriate for me to really show up there because I wasn’t going to get the right audience or the right looks, you know, for me. So yeah, it definitely is worth the work.

Right. So we basically covered the fundamentals of the hashtags. I was hoping that we can move this conversation into a more, um, strategy, almost like what you need to do with them, because now you’ve done the fundamentals, you are researching hashtags. We put them in our posts. We put them in our stories. We use them in our reels, but are we done?

No, we are not

Right. So where does like the actual work come from? Because a lot of people are going okay. I posted my hashtags. Nobody’s finding me, what are your tips, how to take our hashtags to the next level?

Well, it definitely is work. So just know whatever. I mean, it’s going to take some time set aside some time, manage your time, because this is where you have to be now. Like when you look at a platform like Instagram, yes, this is work. And people are like, Oh my gosh, is it worth it? Yes, it’s worth it. Um, so definitely take aside that, you know, set aside that time to get in there. And when I say work your hashtags, that means that the hashtags that you’re using, you need to actually literally go into, let’s just say, hashtag social media, tap on hashtag social media, get into the hub. And the work starts with you looking through the top and the recent posts. I usually like to tend, I tend to like to be in the recent section because it is a little bit smaller and local, um, and not so much influencer where it’s not even my target market, you know?

Um, so what I do is I Def I get in there and I start looking, you know, like this is kind of a strategy that’s kind of based off of, um, I don’t know if you get no Gary, Vaynerchuks, you know, dollar, eighties, a dollar 80 a day or something like that strategy. It’s outrageous. I’ve, I’ve made it simpler for me anyway. Um, all right. Yeah. You’re getting in there and you’re going to engage with accounts that genuinely stand out. I look for the ones that stand out. He recommends going through the top nine. Um, but not always does it stand out with me and we have to remember when we are engaging on social media, we are trying to be ourselves. Yes. Ultimately we have something to sell at the end of the day, but you’ve got to relate and then they’ve got to relate to you.

So if you know, uh, I don’t know, uh, fall decorated, patio stands out to you. What do you immediately think? Oh my gosh, that’s so beautiful. I would do that. How did they do this? Well, tap on that photo, make sure the account is legit. You know, that it’s not like just the one that’s put together or it hasn’t been posted in since, you know, 2018, but you know, checking those things. But then I’ll get into that post. And I will legitimately say right, what I’m thinking in my mind, Oh my gosh, that’s a beautiful, you know, entryway. How did you get this? You know what color is the paint of the door? You know, whatever it is, whatever came to mind genuinely. Um, and that gets the conversation started. Now. It may not be that this person might, you know, for me, you know, like you said, I’m working with realtors.

It may not be a realtor. Might just be somebody in the community. It doesn’t matter. I’m building a relationship. I’m nurturing this. We’ll know if it goes on or, you know, later on or not. If they see it. Um, and you know, what happens is you’ve made a comment, not just a single emoji, please do not do that. You know, actually state your sentence cause you burned networking here. You know, we’re talking to people. Um, but what ends up happening is more often than not those people are going to respond back. They’re going to get to your account. They’re going to see if you’re legit. They’re going to do exactly what you just did. You know, especially if they’ve got something to sell, right? Um, so you may just build that, you know, back and forth camaraderie, whatever it is. And eventually you take that into your DMS.

You start those conversations and you nurture those, those leads. Those are your leads, those any type, any type of comment, anything that’s coming in, these are leads. People don’t understand that, right? It’s just that simple. So what you do with that lead, uh, is, you know, your sales process from that point on, but the work really is in doing, you know, doing that and doing it like per hashtag, so many times over. And so set yourself up a schedule. So that’s why it’s so much work because you’re like, Oh my goodness. Now I’ve got to do this. And I do this for, you know, five more other accounts just on this one, hashtag times 30, right.

A follow-up tip to that is, I know a lot of people might be thinking, well, why am I don’t want to bother with that? Or that’s too much work. And it’s actually not that bad. Like you said, set a schedule. So I know I’ve mentioned this on a past episode, but I do the 10, 10, 10 rule where like 10 minutes of my day, I am concentrating on people’s posts and my own newsfeed and doing my posts. And then I later on in the day I do 10 minutes in stories. But what I like to do at the end of the day, it seems like after dinner, once the dishes are done and the kids are kind of relaxing, I’ll spend 10 minutes. And that’s what I worked in my hashtag hubs. I’m not doing every single 30 hashtags, you know, all the time. I might just pick five that day that I’m going to work on. And then it’s 10 minutes and I’m done and I move on. Don’t overthink it. Just know that it’s always a process. It’s always going to take some time, but you need to just fit it in that, that is aligned with you. If you can’t do 10 minutes, then do five. But as long as you’re putting in the work, what’s so great is you will see growth over time. So just those little five, 10 minutes a day, just imagine the relationships that you will generate in three months. That’s, what’s so cool.

It really it’s so true. It’s absolutely true. And it’s so fun. And it’s funny that, you know, we’re, you know, we’ve known each other and ruined our little social media group too. And it’s just like, those are the people that you come to and be like, Oh my gosh, I was in this hashtag hub for three months and now I know this another, my bite, or now they’re my friend or, you know, whatever. It’s just so exciting to share that stuff. But when you do realize the work that you’ve put in, um, and it’s, and it is rewarding and it also is a learning experience too, you know? So we, we have, that’s how we stretch. That’s how we grow. And like you said, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. So it does take time, you know, so definitely put in the time and get that, you know, really the time managed is really important. So I like your 10, 10, 10, I think that’s awesome.

Yeah. I think it works well and it just gives, um, women entrepreneurs just like a starting point and then they can figure it out what works for them and their time and based on their business. Exactly. Customize it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Sandy, you have been a wealth of information today. Where can our listeners find you on social?

Well on Instagram, socially branded lives. Um, I’m also at socially branded live on Facebook. My name Sandy DeMarco on LinkedIn, YouTube, socially branded. Yeah. I’m kind of everywhere. Even on your Amazon Alexa for socially branded we’re there. Yeah. Well, thanks. So, yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for being on the show and I will make sure that all your stuff is in the show notes so they can come on over and, uh, chat you up. I have one more thing to add. I definitely wanted to offer your listeners if they wanted to do a little hashtag audit type in a still strategy session to just, you know, use one of those, you know, your favorite platform to connect with me and just say you were coming over from Alison’s podcast and I will gladly get on a chat with you and, um, you know, shut that up with you, help you out with that. That’s awesome, Sandy, and I will make sure that your links are in the show notes so people can just click on you and then set up that quick little meeting to do a hashtag audit. What an awesome gift. Thank you. Yes. Thank you. Hey there,

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