I get it: Instagram can definitely be hit or miss for bloggers!
I discovered early on that I really liked Instagram and I could make it work for me and my blog. I grew my followers from 0-1000 in 4 weeks and kept some pretty decent engagement rates!
After Pinterest, Instagram is my second biggest traffic generator for this website!
But it wasn't always that way...
For almost an entire year, I was making this HUGE mistake on Instagram:
I was using SUPER popular hashtags.
Because I didn't know a ton about Instagram marketing, I figured the best way to get my posts seen was by using really popular hashtags that everyone's searching for.
I would Google "top Instagram hashtags for followers" or "best Instagram hashtags" and up come up with lists of popular hashtags that had over 1 million tags. My posts were filled with incredibly competitive tags every time.
If you're a small/medium Instagrammer, using mega competitive hashtags won't get you anywhere! No one will see your posts and your engagement rates will be atrocious!
There is a huge difference between the top Instagram hashtags for followers and the top Instagram hashtags for followers YOU should be using.
The point of using hashtags on Instagram is to make sure people searching for those topics+hashtags actually see your post. Much like trying to rank for Google, you want your posts to actually "rank" in the top posts sections of Instagram.
If you’re competing with top Instagram hashtags that have 2 million, 5 million or 10 million tags, it’s SUPER unlikely you’re going to show up in the top posts when people search for that hashtag.
So, basically, you’ve totally wasted that tag!
Your post will be lost in the abyss of millions of hashtags and you’ll never be able to compete with some of larger Instagram accounts.
So, what does this mean? It means that your Instagram marketing strategy needs to be tailored to your audience size and average engagement.
What exactly IS the best strategy to use the top Instagram hashtags to your benefit?
Let's take a look.
1. Figure out which hashtags you can compete with
Figuring out which hashtags you can actually compete with (and rank for) is the most important step!
What do I mean by this?
Try this experiment:
On your next Instagram post, use my recommended hashtags for your 30 tags. They're broken up into 4 sections: under 100k, 100-200k, 200-300k and 300-400k.
After 12 and 24 hours, click on all the hashtags you used in your post to check if you ranked in the "top posts" section.
For the example below, I checked the hashtag "#reachyourgoals" and saw that I was getting enough likes to rank in the top posts for a hashtag of that popularity, and anyone searching for that hashtag will see my content.
So moving forward, that's a hashtag I'll continue using!
2. Experiment and change it up
It’s no secret that Instagram won’t like you if you copy and paste the same block of hashtags over and over again. It looks spammy and, not to mention, you’ll be limiting your potential reach if you never experiment with new hashtags!
Keep checking the “Top Posts” section for your hashtag to see if you’re featured. Eventually, you’ll find you can start going after more popular hashtags.
Play around with different hashtags and when you’re looking to increase your visibility and grow your reach, try including top Instagram hashtags that are 40,000-80,0000 higher in tags than what you’re currently ranking for.
For example, maybe you’re consistently in the Top Posts section for #vegetarianism which has 100,000 tags and you want to try ranking for #vegetarianlife which currently has 175,000 tags.
3. Drop the poor performing hashtags
Once you start consistently ranking for higher level hashtags, drop some of your lower ones so you know you’re maximizing your reach with your 30 tags!
Out of your 30 hashtags on every post, the majority of them should be guaranteed ranks while 4-5 can be saved to “test” for higher rankings and see what your maximum reach is for your account.
Remember to leave adequate time for your post to rank!
If you're posting new content TOO often (3-4 times per day) your engagement rates will generally be lower and you may find you're not ranking for top posts as often as you COULD be.
Try to keep your Instagram posts to 1-2 per day for maximum effectiveness.
Have you grabbed a copy of the top Instagram hashtags for every niche? It's definitely going to help you organize your tags!
Hopefully this helps you skyrocket your Instagram followers and increase your engagement rates! Let me know how it works in the comments below 🙂