Thank you for tuning in for Part Two in my series on using hashtags. In Part One, we discussed what a hashtag is and how it helps people find you on social media. Now let’s think about using hashtags on Instagram.

On Instagram, you may use up to 30 hashtags in a single post. That total is cumulative between the post itself as well as the comments you make. There are different schools of thought as to how many hashtags are ideal to use. Some people recommend that you select a specific number of hashtags to use in each post. Some say only 2. Some say use 11 in the caption and 11 in the comments. Some say use 16. And some people recommend that you use all 30 of them. Why do you want to use so many hashtags? Why not use all 30 of them?

Because you are missing an opportunity to market yourself if you do not. Hashtags are like marketing real estate.  Remember that using hashtags helps people find you. If you can identify several relevant hashtags to use, it’s ideal to use them to grow your following. Unless you are an influencer or brand with followers in the hundreds of thousands, you need to use hashtags to help people find you.

Hashtags are like marketing real estate. Click To Tweet

I know, I know…. Hashtags are ugly. You may be glad to hear that there are ways to get around your hashtags being so noticeable in your posts. First of all, not everyone reads your captions or comments. So if your comment is long enough, people who scroll by won’t see the hashtags unless they expand the caption. You can also write your caption in Notes so that you can space out your text and have your hashtags at the bottom of your post after a few rows of spaces. Doing so allows you to keep your feed clear of hashtags, while remaining searchable. You would type a caption that may look something like this:

     This dress is everything!
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#dress #fashion #fashiondiaries…

Something I like to do is to share my Instagram posts to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. When I do that, I post only two primary hashtags in the caption, post the image, and then I’ll go back and edit the caption to include any additional hashtags I want to include. Alternatively, I could post additional hashtags in a comment on the post as well.

Test if you get more mileage by using hashtags in the caption or the comments on your IG posts. Click To Tweet

Test whether you get more mileage by using hashtags in the caption or in the comments of your Instagram posts. On my Instagram accounts, using hashtags in the caption yields more likes, comments and followers than posting them in the comments. It is up to you to measure your personal results and then decide whether reach trumps aesthetics or vice-versa. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

You can't improve what you don't measure. Click To Tweet

Using hashtags that are trending is another great way to help people find your content. Previously, Instagram made trending hashtags available. That is no longer the case, so you can use Hashtagify to search for what’s trending OR you can use an app like Hashtap to see what’s most popular at the moment in relation to a specific keyword. We will discuss how to select the best hashtags in a later post.

When you create your posts, be sure to include hashtags that not only allow people to find the brands and products you are working with but so that your followers can find you too. For example, fans of Social Biz Babes would look for #socialbizbabes to find what other fans are posting. Creating a hashtag that is unique to you and your brand is a great way to drive brand awareness.

When I use certain hashtags frequently, to save time,on my phone, or in some cases, I’ll save it as a keyboard shortcut so that I can quickly move on to my next task. To save time, save strings of commonly used hashtags to Notes or as a keyboard short cut. Click To Tweet

A lot of groups support each other on Instagram to drive engagement. Using hashtags that have been agreed upon by a group is a great way to do this. For example, I participate in a few groups of people who have committed to supporting each other’s Instagram posts at least once a week. To do that, I search the group’s hashtag. It’s easy. I can do this while I’m watching tv or waiting for something. Then I will scroll through the list, post likes, or hearts, as they are shown in Instagram, and comment on their photos. It’s a reciprocal relationship. The others will do the same for me.

I don’t recommend using tags such as ‪#‎likeforlike‬ as people can get a bit grouchy if you are too slow to reciprocate your likes. Frankly, there are so many people using tags like that that that you would spend all of your time liking other people’s stuff. As Sweet Brown says, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But working with a curated group of people to build engagement helps the people looking for you and what you have to offer to find you.

Using hashtags on Instagram is a great way to grow the reach for your business. In our next segments, we will discuss how to use hashtags on Facebook and Twitter as well as how to determine which hashtags are the best for your posts.

Jennifer Quisenberry, Social Biz Babes, founder of Social Biz Babes, social media expert, social media training

Jennifer Quisenberry, founder of Social Biz Babes

Jennifer Quisenberry is a Social Influencer, author and blogger. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and two dogs.