Hashtags are everywhere and a smart social media manager should know how to use them across different social media channels like a boss. You need hashtags to boost the reach of your social media content, gain followers and ultimately market your business to a larger audience in less time. And to make this happen, you need a definite strategy to select hashtags for your content on social media. As this post is specifically targeted for Instagram, the points discussed below are mainly for Instagram hashtags.
This blog will help you understand why you need a strategy for Instagram hashtags, what is the density for your Instagram hashtag and how to choose the perfect hashtag group for your posts.
The blog is divided into the following parts:
- Why you need a strategy for Instagram hashtags
- Know your Instagram hashtag density
- The formula you can follow
- Learn by example
A. Why you need a strategy for Instagram hashtags
You might have noticed that whenever you search a hashtag on Instagram, you get the results in two separate sections (Image attached below). One is 'Top Posts' section and another one is the 'Most Recent' section. Instagram's algorithm selects the most popular and engaging photos for a particular hashtag and then show them in top posts while the most recent section displays all other posts for that particular hashtag just sorted by their posting time.
The goal of social media managers should be to get their brand's posts featured in the Top Posts section of Instagram hashtag search results for a long time against a particular Instagram hashtag. This improves the brand exposure bringing more followers and engagement to the brand's Instagram account.
So, how does Instagram decides which posts to feature in Top Posts section and which not? Well, Instagram's algorithm ranks the search posts based on popularity in terms of likes, comments, and overall engagement. Not only these numbers, but the algorithm also tracks how quickly the posts get the engagement. Thus to teach Instagram that your post is highly engaging, you need to generate a lot of engagement around your post in a short period of time just after posting it.
And this is where the real work is needed. Yes, you need a well-defined hashtag strategy here.
So, let's dig into the details around how to build a winning Instagram hashtag strategy for your brand.
B. Know your Instagram hashtag density
Instagram hashtag density is an important thing to consider while selecting the right hashtags for your brand. Hashtag density is nothing but a number that tells you how much this hashtag is used on Instagram or how popular is this hashtag. This is simply the number of Instagram public posts which are linked to that hashtag.
To know the density of your Instagram hashtag, just go to Instagram hashtag search section and type the word for the hashtag. The number below each hashtag in the search result is the hashtag density. (See the image below)
The hashtag density number tells you:
- The level of competition for the hashtag.
- Amount of engagement in terms of comments and likes for this hashtag.
- The chances of your Instagram posts to be featured in the Top Posts section for the hashtag.
So, it's pretty much obvious that:
- High-density Instagram hashtags are difficult to rank because a lot of people are using them.
- Low-density Instagram hashtags are easier to rank because a smaller and more niche audience segment is using them.
So, how much hashtag density is good for your brand?
The choice of your hashtag density should be compatible with the number of followers you have.
Generally, you should use hashtags with density size of approximately five to ten times of the number of your followers to optimize the performance of your hashtags.
If your hashtag density is 1M (high-density) and your number of followers are 20K, the used hashtag will not be effective. Here the hashtag is a high-density hashtag and your content will be wiped away in a blink.
If your hashtag density is 10K and your number of followers is 1M, then again it's not a good choice of hashtag because, considering the number of followers you have, this low-density hashtag will limit the reach of your brand.
So, if your followers are 20K, the good hashtag density should be between 100K and 200K.
Here is the formula you can use:
So, which Instagram hashtags perform well; high-density or the low-density hashtags?
Ideally, you should combine both high-density and low-density hashtags in your posts. This mix will determine the engagement and reach of your content over a period of time.
If you use only high-density Instagram hashtags, it will get lost among the thousands of other posts but if you mix it with some targeted and niche low-density Instagram hashtags, it will be in the high-density hashtag search results for a short time plus in the low-density search results for a long time or may be in the top results section of the low-density hashtag search results. This way, you get the best of both the worlds and your posts live longer in search results.
Here is an example:
Suppose I am a small fashion brand with a follower base of 10K and I want to post the below image about our new summer collection, then my choice of Instagram hashtag group will be like this.
So, instead of only going with the #Fashion which has around 405,886,148 hashtag density, I will combine this high-density Instagram hashtag with some mid to low density Instagram hashtags which are relevant to this image. They can be #FashionWear (232,610) and #SummerFashion (90,768).
Tip: For fast and repeated use of Instagram hashtag groups, you should keep a list of the most relevant Instagram hashtags in a spreadsheet or a note-keeping app. You can then mix and match these for the specific theme of your content. You can always revisit this list based on the engagement you get from the previous posts.
Hope you like the blog and implement these strategies in building your winning Instagram hashtag strategy.
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