#Hashtags are an integral part of social media, especially Instagram. They help you reach your target audience, increase engagement and build your brand. Hashtags can genuinely take your business from zero to hero (read our blog on the importance of social media for your business), but if used too often or without a clear strategy, they can become pointless and ineffective. Hashtags are powerful but they need to be understood.
First things first, what are hashtags?
Hashtags are a # symbol followed by a combination of words, numbers, and emojis, e.g. #BestFriends, #SouthAfrica.
With millions of photos posted on Instagram every day, hashtags become Instagram’s sorting method. It is a highly efficient way to deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags sort posts into categories that help you reach your target market and, more importantly, help your target market find you.
Anyone who clicks on a hashtag or searches for it will see a page with all the posts tagged with it. Hootesuite clearly explains for us that, how high up on a hashtag page your post appears depends on its frequency of use, the popularity of your post (current likes and engagement level), when you shared it, and your audience strength.
Ultimately, hashtags make you discoverable.
Ok, so how many hashtags should we use?
There is a current misconception that more is better. People think you need to hashtag wildly for your post to be found more easily and reach more people.
But this is NOT necessarily the case.
Fewer is actually better. Less is more, as the saying goes! Using a few carefully selected hashtags will generate better results.
According to a research done by Quintly, most profiles use 1-3 hashtags.
Profiles that have less than a thousand followers would be wise to follow this trend as it has been proven to increase engagement. However, for those who have an audience that exceeds a thousand they tend to get more interactions when they didn’t use hashtags at all. Yes, you heard correctly! Now that goes against what we all have previously been led to believe.
Lastly, how do we choose our 3 hashtags wisely?
A good way to optimize your fewer hashtags is to narrow your hashtags. Use more specific, smaller-volume hashtags. You will compete in a smaller pool which is better for your brand than using very broad hashtags that are saturated.
When a business has been careful to select more specific hashtags that relate to their services or products, they will be found by people who are searching more specifically. You are exactly what they want. This creates happy, satisfied and loyal followers.