January 17, 2018

5 Ways To Increase Engagement With Hashtags


Being a business or brand (or blog) online is a constant struggle between trying to get more followers and trying not to embarrass yourself while getting more followers. Should you use hashtags? Should you follow everyone back who follows you? Should you pay for one of those services that guarantees followers?

The one thing I get asked about the most from every client, in every pitch, and from all of my friends is hashtags. I even started holding open Office Hours so you could ask me questions live and get answers in real time. So without further ado....

Here are 5 ways to increase engagement with hashtags!

1) Search for hashtags that describe your product/brand and the people you're trying to reach. Look for hashtags that are relevant, but less widely used, i.e. with 5k-100k uses instead of 1-2 million, that way your post will rise to the top in the section. Hashtags with over a million uses are getting updated every second and your post will get lost in the fray.

2) Use your own name and/or brand as a hashtag. A good hashtag does two things: covers your overall brand, and is specific to your post.

3) Create a community hashtag for your product/brand. Make sure and include the hashtag in your bio:  "Show us how you use our product with #____". Then you can repost pics showing people using your products. A good example of this is, #igotitatgoodwill.

4) Use between 11-30 hashtags on a post to do well in the Instagram algorithm (30 is the max allowed). It's personal preference whether you include them in the post or as a comment.

5) Find brands like yours with a strong hashtag game and copy theirs!

Tips and tricks!

Use predictive text on your phone for the hashtags you use the most so you don't have to copy and paste every time. Open Settings, go to General, Keyboard, then Text Replacement. Click on the + in the upper right corner to add your phrase. The phrase is the list of hashtags you want to fill in. The shortcut is what will automatically expand into the word or phrase as you type, i.e. blog, business, etc.

Look for trending hashtags, but again, beware of hashtags with 1 million + uses. Hilariously, a few months ago, #september was trending, but unbeknownst to everyone using it, they were all shadow banned because the tag got so overused. [insert scream face emoji]

Every 30, 60, or 90 days, do a search of the hashtags you're using and make sure they're still relevant to your posts/brand.

Please for the love of god tell me what a shadow ban is!

Shadow bans happen on hashtags with over a million uses. It's because spammers use the trending hashtags and clutter the feed with content that goes against Instagram's Terms Of Use. So everyone under the hashtag gets a temporary "shadowban" while Instagram investigates and decides which posts get to stay. To avoid this, use a mix of hashtags with different sizes (5k-100k) and beware of hashtags with sexual connotations. As all of my friends in the burlesque community can attest, Instagram is a prude!

P.S. How do I know all of this? Because it's my job!

P.P.S. Overwhelmed? Good news, you can hire me.

2 comments:

Emily Kathryn said...

Hey, Blonde Mule!

To clarify: do all hashtags with over a million uses get shadow banned or is that just if they get too much use too quickly?

The Blonde Mule said...

Hey Emily! Ooh, good question! No, not all IG users who use a hashtag with over a million uses get shadow banned. That's part of what makes it scary - some people do and some people don't. As long as your picture and content match the hashtag, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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