Today we have Nick Foy (founder of AskNickFoy.com) joining us to talk about using hashtags to grow your Instagram. As you may have already figured out, I love hashtags just as much as everyone else hates them! Hashtags combined with great content can grow your account to thousands of followers. Thousands of followers results in recognition in your niche and influencer marketing (aka money and free stuff!!)
Read on to see what Nick has to say about the importance of hashtags
I’m excited to write this post for you guys today because The Liked Photo is one of my favorite websites to visit for Instagram & photography tips. Anna is an expert and someone I recently discovered that I love learning tips from to improve my Instagram account growth.
I want to share with you how I used hashtags to explode my Instagram following for @GolfPracticeGuides from 2,000 followers to 28,000 followers in a 7-month span.
Today we will cover the following:
• What are hashtags
• How to find the right hashtags
• Ranking your photos as the top featured photo for a hashtag
What are hashtags?
For those of you who are new to Instagram, hashtags may be a confusing concept so let’s break it down as simple as possible.
A hashtag is simply a word that follows a number sign and looks like this… #Happy
It has to stay connected as one piece so if you use multiple words, don’t use any spaces! Ex: #TheLikedPhoto
Why Use Hashtags?
Hashtags are used as a way to categorize your photo or to find photos related to a specific word. Social media platforms use hashtags as a search feature so that users can find relevant content they are interested in related to a specific word, topic, and category.
For example, my golf account posts photos of golfers so I would use hashtags relevant to my niche such as #Golf #GolfSwing #TigerWoods
Anyone who searches those hashtags using Instagram’s search feature would see all golf related photos.
You can also click on that particular hashtag to open up the hashtag page and see all of the top photos for that word.
How to find the right hashtags?
To get your pictures seen by the right audience you are trying to attract, you need to research the hashtags that your target audience is using on their photos.
To start my research for my golf brand, I simply looked up a few of the top accounts in my golf niche and analyzed the types of photos they were posting as well as the hashtags they were using. I wrote down a list of possible hashtags and then did further research.
To do further research, you need to search that hashtag and see how many posts are using the tag. Some hashtags will have been used millions of times while others may have been used just a few hundred or few thousand times.
Ideally, you want a hashtag that has been used in the "thousands" of times because this means that your photo can be seen by lots of daily users of this phrase. In other words, you want a hashtag page that gets a high volume of traffic each day but not overly used.
It's important to use hashtags so that your photos show up in the feed of these search pages. Instagram users often browse through these pages which result in views and likes on your photo.
Selecting Hashtags You Can Rank For
The second part of the research phase is determining hashtags that you can rank for.
What do I mean by ranking for a hashtag?
Instagram features 9 photos at the top of a hashtag’s page which mean these 9 photos get seen first by the thousands of visitors stopping by that hashtag’s page each day. By ranking your photo as one of these top 9 images, you’ll get lots of exposure compared to the rest of the photos that get buried away in the feed.
With @GolfPracticeGuides, I noticed I was getting 40-50 new followers every time I posted a new photo. I didn’t think much of it at first other than to take advantage of posting 3-4 times per day so that I could get 150-200 new followers each day.
Eventually, I thought to check the hashtags and see if I was perhaps ranking for any of them and sure enough, I was.
I use 30 hashtags per photo, so I clicked on all 30 and wrote down each one that I was ranking for. It turns out I was ranking for 18 out of the 30 which explains why I was getting lots of likes, comments, and new followers. I had 18 photos being featured at the top of their respective hashtag pages.
How do you rank for a hashtag?
Your photo needs to get more likes and comments than the majority of photos using that same hashtag.
When I researched golf hashtags, I noticed several top ranking photos that were only getting 300-400 likes and 10-15 comments. Since my photos were getting 600-700 likes on average and 20 comments, I determined this as a hashtag I could rank for.
If you want to rank for a hashtag, you’ll have to research the relevant hashtags related to your niche and see if any have top ranking photos with fewer likes than what your photo gets on average.
Hashtags that are used millions of times will be tough to rank for because the top photos will usually have thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.
If you only get a few hundred likes on average, you’ll need to target some hashtags that are used less frequently. Maybe this means pick 10 hashtags that have been used 20,000 to 40,000 times that you can rank for and then pick 20 hashtags that have been used over 100,000 to millions of times that you don’t care about ranking for. This way you are diversified.
To recap today’s lesson, you should be using hashtags on your Instagram photos if you are not currently. It’s a great way to help your photos get seen in the search results for that particular hashtag’s page.
Research hashtags your target audience uses and would be relevant to your brand. Determine how popular a hashtag is by seeing how many times it has been used and look at the featured photos that are ranking for that hashtag to determine competition level.
Try out these tips to start ranking for some hashtags and you should see an increase in engagement on your photos as well as new followers!
If you’d like to learn more about growing your social media following or website traffic, stop by my blog AskNickFoy.com where I teach online business owners and entrepreneurs tips and tricks related to internet marketing.
Nick Foy, Founder