The Art of Hashtag Discovery

The secret sauce lies in the OG (original gangster) method from Twitter-ers: You know, the hashtag — also once known as a number or pound sign. Oh, the good ol’ days. But this little ol’ symbol is a gamechanger for yoursocial media marketing strategy.
So, of course, you engage with people on the network and at times it does seem like a game, however, you must remain authentic when liking a photo and commenting (yes, more than just an emoji is best). Yeah… yeah… but get to the point, but why do they work?
Hashtags work because they allow you to connect your content with a bigger picture, a bigger network, a bigger theme that your desired audience and network are already using, making your photos (and therefore your brand) easier to find.
Let’s see this magic at work. Navigate to the “search” section of your Instagram app. Here you can search for any topic that you’re interested in and find other people who are posting about this topic. Note: The search doesn’t have to be a hashtag outright.

What’s also great is just by entering a term you think your audience relates to the Instagram search allows you to see the Top overall. From the top down, you’ll first see the accounts you follow that have updated recently plus the most popular hashtag for that term and gives suggestions of others you may be interested in. There’s also a place to toggle over to People which shows accounts related to your keyword, Tags for common hashtags used, and Place to suggest those locations nearby that cater to your search term. Take “coffee” for example:

The other way hashtags help your biz is by joining in on related content. For instance, if you look at a photo in your feed you like and you click one of those photos’ hashtags, you can see other posts using the same hashtag to find new people. Easy, peasy! Similarly, when you click to follow someone that’s of interest, suggestions appear for other accounts to follow similar to the person you just followed.

Next is figuring out what relevant hashtags coincide with your brand and the audience you’re trying to attract. A best practice is to find a group of up to 30 hashtags that you can use every time you post to Instagram. Many accounts will utilize their top 3 hashtags in their caption, while the remaining 27 hashtags will be used as a “First Comment.” How to segment these 30 hashtags:

  • 15 should describe your business and the purpose of your account, industry terms
  • 10 should describe your ideal audience
  • 5 should be hashtags that are trending currently (these would be the 5 that would change up every time)

Hashing out the appropriate tags: Finding that happy medium.
When selecting hashtags they should have less than 1 million posts associated with them and between 5,000 to 500,000 posts. This frame makes sure that enough people are using and seeing this hashtag without it being so common that your content gets buried. Finding your hashtags is a cinch, but does take some time. We always say set your timer for 5 minutes grab a pen and a piece of paper and feverishly write all the terms or phrases that come to mind when thinking about your business. Repeat this brain dump for terms that describe your ideal audience. After, we suggest going back to the Instagram app and searching these terms to find those that hit the sweet spot or happy medium identified above. You’ll also want to do a quick overview to ensure those posts that are associated with that tag make sense for your business. 

Happy Hashtagging!

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