I've been on a mission, and let me tell you, it hasn't been easy. Instagram changes algorithms all the time on us, and just when we do something that seems right, we fall all over again.
I've been working on finding a solid recipe for success on Instagram for a year now and one proven method to grow your Instagram is hashtagging! So here they are, my top 5 Hashtags to Grow Your Instagram!
1. Hashtag your Heart Out
So let me tell you about my own experience; trying to put my pride first and thinking "30 hashtags seems a little desperate, I'm just going to do a couple, and sometimes none at all, and just take it from there."
After testing this, I realized I had to set my pride aside. If Instagram lets you use 30 hashtags, why not go for it?
So how do you even know what hashtags to use? Here are simple steps to help you find the best hashtags for your profile.
Use Your Bio! Your bio (if well written) will cue you in on exactly who you are, or who you are wanting to be on Instagram. Lets take my profile for example.
If we use my biography to find hashtags for @lees.garcia, we can start very easily. Here are a few of the hashtags I know I am always going to use: #missgrandinternational #mgi2014 #leesgarcia #fromleeswithlove
So how do you find the Right Hashtags that are going to work for you??
The best tip I can share with anyone is: STOP USING POPULAR HASHTAGS!
I used to love using hashtags like #love or #me, and those hashtags are not going to get you to where you want to be. The reason why these hashtags don't work is that you are already competing in an oversaturated "hashtag market," and when you search for the word love on tags on Instagram, the results are 1,223,590,438 as of 1/5/2018.
A Hashtag works like a search engine. If you search for something like #pink, you will most likely get millions of results, most of them probably coming from Victoria's Secret or other pink items. If you want to be seen and you are selling a pink shirt, you should be using hashtags such as #pinkshirt, #pinkfashion #wearpink and this will raise your odds of being seen on Instagram.
Now let's talk real numbers, unless you are already "Insta-famous," choosing to compete with these hashtag is unrealistic and will make you feel stuck forever.
So what you do instead is find hashtags that define who you are and define your market as well. Who are your followers and what are they looking for when they find you?
Find your competitors or people you love to follow and aspire to be like and see what hashtags they are using. Can you apply them to your profile? Can you find some hashtag inspo and alter those to fit your niche or style?
2. Test Your Hashtags!
I'm going to level with you here and tell you that even though word of mouth says not to change your Instagram to business because you will lose your engagement, I highly recommend you do so. By doing this, Instagram will track your algorithms for you and tell you when it is best to post, time and day included. Here is a preview of mine:
No matter how great your hashtags are, by posting at peak times, you will give yourself an even stronger advantage. Now that you have this in mind, how can you tell if your hashtags are working?
Test by posting in your peak time and adding your 30 hashtags -- this should automatically bring you new likes, more comments, and new followers. To verify that your hashtags are doing something, your cheat sheet is "top posts."
Find hashtags you'd like to use that have different reaches, from 5,000 to 10,000 to 50,000 to 100,000 as your test. Find your highest ranking hashtag and go from there. Try to find hashtags that will feature you in their top posts section, and if you find one, stick to it!
3: Be discreet, not desperate!
If you're like me and have problems putting your hashtag pride aside, you most certainly can put your hashtags in the comment section. Be quick enough to be your first comment, and your hashtags will be buried in all the comments that come afterwards. It also makes your post look much cleaner, and it looks like you haven't used any hashtags at all. Bravo!
Top tip, the faster you post your hashtags, the more likely your target market will find you. The hashtag algorithm does not start working until you put the hashtags on your post, which means putting hashtags on an old picture won't help you because the algorithm won't count any likes or comments that were posted before that.
#4: Change it up!
If you have the luxury of time, find new hashtags you can use! (I do this every so often to make sure my hashtags haven't gotten oversaturated. Rumor has it that shadow bans occur when you use the same hashtag too often. Avoid doing that so you can be seen on the gram.
What is shadow banning? An account may be posting and using hashtags but Instagram does not pick up on it, making the user seem invisible under that hashtag feed. By changing your hashtags once in a while you can avoid the dreaded shadow ban.
Don't know what your niche is? I've partnered with The Insta Boss Club to provide an Ultimate Hashtag Kit, where they put together 90 hashtags for your specific Instagram Account!
#5: Join Groups with Hashtags!
I created a test hashtag #fromleeswithlove that as of right now has no posts except for my own, but this will be helpful if I decide to make a group where other members can join and search for this hashtag and like/comment on other posts as well.
There's plenty of groups on Instagram or Facebook that related to different types of Instagrammers that could potentially have their own hashtag.