Why It’s Time to Update Your Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Opinion: Marketers need to adjust their tactics for the new algorithm

Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6 percent more engagement than those without

Trying to stand out on an application with more than 800 million monthly users is no easy task.

While the Instagram shadowban may have scared you away from using hashtags on the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network last year, they’re still an effective way to get more Instagram followers and increase your engagement.

From following hashtags to adding them to your Instagram Stories, hashtags are an important tool to help you grow your brand this year.

Instagram’s algorithm favors posts with high engagement, meaning that the more likes and comments your post receives, the more people will see your post. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6 percent more engagement than those without.

And although each Instagram post allows up to 30 hashtags, research on the topic suggests that the optimum number of hashtags is fewer than 10 per post.

Most often, the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users are. When Instagram hashtags are overused, they can be confusing and frustrating and take away from your story. However, when used properly, hashtags are a great way for individuals and brands to increase their posts visibility and engagement.

Now you can follow your favorite Instagram hashtags

Instagram rolled out the ability to follow hashtags last December, which means that instead of users having to scroll through a feed to discover your tagged content, your posts could show up automatically in the feeds of potential new followers.

On the flip side, users also have the power to mark your hashtagged content as something they don’t want to see.

Once users are following specific hashtags and suggested posts begin showing up in their feeds, they will have the ability to select a “Don’t Show for This Hashtag” option to mark content that is not interesting or relevant to them.

While this new feature was created to tell the Instagram algorithm what type of content users enjoy, having too many of your posts marked with Don’t Show for This Hashtag could potentially raise a red flag on your account and negatively impact your other content, as well. Make sure you’re only including relevant hashtags on your Instagram post, or you may run the risk of losing engagement.

Add hashtags to your Instagram Stories

By using hashtags within your Stories, you’re giving your content yet another way to be discovered by a new audience.

If you didn’t know, most Instagram geo-locations and hashtags have their own Stories attached to them. While this is an underutilized feature, you can expect it to gain popularity as users become more comfortable with creating Instagram Stories.

Instagram users can add hashtags to their Stories by using the hashtag sticker or typing them out with the text tool.

If an Instagram hashtag is popular enough, users will be able to view an active, real-time Instagram Story when searching for the hashtag. Hashtag stories show up across the top bar of the hashtag page along with the new “follow” button.

The different types of Instagram hashtags

It’s important to note that there are two main types of Instagram hashtags: branded and community hashtags. Understanding these differences will help you determine which hashtags you should be incorporating into your posting strategy.

Branded hashtags are specific to your business. They might contain your brand name, your products or a specific campaign. Creating a catchy and memorable branded hashtag will make users excited to share it.

REI created a community with its #optoutside hashtag, reaching more than 6 million posts and encouraging audiences to explore the great outdoors.

Branded hashtags are also a great way to start a conversation around your business or gather user-generated content to repost on your feed.

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