Let's Talk Business #1
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Instagram Hashtags 2020
Hashtag—hashtags… is that how this works? Heh, well… no. But let’s go over how they DO work and whether you should be using them. Let’s talk business: Hashtag Edition.
What Are Hashtags?
Let’s be honest, pretty much anyone reading this knows what a hashtag is, but I had to start somewhere.
TLDR: It’s a way to label a post by preceding a topical tag word with the hash symbol (#).
Hashtags are metadata tags that can be added to a social media post in order to highlight or categorize the post. This makes it searchable, discoverable, and in some platforms, puts it in a gallery or directory page of everything marked with that hashtag. This means that people who don’t even follow you can see your posts. See the appeal?
Hashtags are a free and accessible way to get eyes on your social media posts.
Though this may seem simple—and in some terms, it is—possessing a true mastery over the hashtag takes a bit of knowledge.
Luckily for you, I’m here to give you a little of that necessary knowledge. I’m doing my karmic feats for… forever. I’m never helping you again…
Let’s move on!
How Do Hashtags Work on Instagram?
We’re going to focus on Instagram, specifically. That’s easier on me… shut up, I’m writing it.
Anyway, on Instagram, hashtags are pretty much the same as they are everywhere else. When you put them in a post, you’re effectively labeling that post with whatever metadata you’re using (that particular tag).
On Instagram, your posts also go on a page that others can follow or search for, with nothing but posts and stories that include that hashtag, including yours.
These hashtags can be put within the caption of your posts or in the comment section of that post. There are reasons to consider which one you use, but we’ll go over that a bit later.
On Instagram you can use numbers in your hashtags but other special characters (aside from underscores) or spaces will break the tag, making it either useless or turning it into a tag you didn’t intend.
Remember that you can only tag your own posts. You can’t throw tags into someone else’s unwitting post. That could turn bad pretty quickly, right? Troll heaven!
Here’s an important bit of info: At the moment, you can only use up to thirty (30) hashtags in a single post. You’ll know if you go over because it won’t let you post with more than thirty.
Are Hashtags Still Worth Using in 2020?
Just kidding. Seriously, hashtags are indeed still relevant and worth using in 2020.
In fact, the numbers have been crunched on many occasions. It’s been found that having just a single hashtag in your post can increase engagement by an average of 12.6%.
That’s a sizable jump for such a small effort, right? Just one can do all that and you can have up to thirty of those suckers working for you (more on that later).
Using hashtags is still a great way to increase engagement and reach. For any indie creator, entrepreneur, or solo marketer, that’s an invaluable tool at your disposal. Finding free and easy ways to grow awareness of your brand is always worthwhile, in my humble opinion.
After all, more eyes could mean more mullah!
Using Instagram Hashtags in 2020
Now that we’ve established what hashtags are and that they’re worth using, let’s get into how to go about putting them to good use.
How Many to Use
Let’s touch on the amount of tags to use again. We know that we can use up to thirty of them in a single post. But should we?
Well, it’s debatable. You’ll find some that advise using less hashtags because using so many can look “spammy” and causes less engagement. There’s even some old data I found that suggests this is true.
However, I know many folks that have found no drop in analytics while using the full amount.
Some are worried that stuffing thirty tags in a post, though allowed, will penalize you somehow. But that's not true. In fact, Instagram’s product lead stated that this is not the case.
You can probably find someone somewhere that says any arbitrary number is correct. Ultimately, you just want to use as many relevant tags as you can.
I, for example, hardly ever use all thirty because I can’t think of thirty super relevant tags to use… shut up, I try. If you simply stuff your post with hashtags just to hit the max, you may not be doing yourself any favors. If you don’t use enough, the same can be true.
You’ll want to find good and highly relevant hashtags for your posts. We’ll touch on this point again in more detail, later.
The quality of your hashtags is important. In order to market to the right crowds, you’ll need to pick tags that reach the demographics your posts may interest. Research your audience!
One thing’s for sure, using none has the worst results.
As far as the aesthetics go, there’s an easy way to fix that. Put the hashtags in a comment on your post, instead of the caption. There is no difference to Instagram. This clears up your post to look more pristine.
If you want to take that a bit further, there is a nice trick that you can use.
Place five consecutive periods, each on a different line. Like this:
Doing that will cause the comment to collapse, hiding all those hashtags you put in there and making everything look a bit cleaner.
Make sure there is no space after any of the periods, or it won’t work.
Don't Get Stagnant
I’ve been guilty of falling into this. You want to avoid using the same hashtags over and over again.
I like to keep templates in my Notes app on my phone and paste from there. It’s easier than typing every time. However, you want to make sure you’re not just posting the same stuff in every post. It can actually be detrimental.
You ideally want to reach out to as many different relevant parties as possible. Using the same tags will keep you firing into the same target. Mix it up.
What I like to do is keep a core template of hashtags for each type of post I tend to make, then throw in some other good hashtags that I’ve researched. This keeps me from having to type out all of them and keeps it fresh with some different tags each time.
You should probably avoid just using the most popular tags in your posts. This is for a few reasons. For one, those top hashtags are high competition. Some say above 500k is considered high-density, to others, one million plus. Either way, it’s just how the cool kids say popular.
Using a tag that has a huge reach can certainly be beneficial, but not if that’s all you’re throwing your hat into. You'll get lost in the static.
You should mix in some high-density hashtags for sheer reach, along with many more well researched tags. You’ll want to have a chance at standing out in some of these hashtags that you’re utilizing. Using some more modest low-density hashtags can help you do that.
Your posts can get better ranked by being liked and commented on. The more and the quicker it comes, the better. Finding highly engaged hashtags can be just what you need, even if they’re not super popular or trending. Niche tags can still help you get more focused engagement.
Avoid Banned Hashtags
Believe it or not, Instagram actually bans certain hashtags. This usually comes after a tag has been abused and used in a spam-like manner.
This is yet another reason not to just throw popular hashtags into your post without researching.
It’s not as easy as it should be to know what’s banned and using one could cause all your other hashtags to not work, and could even result in your account being penalized.
They’re also being banned both permanently and temporarily on a regular basis, so it’s really kind of a pain. They can jump in and out of ban. However, not realizing it is still no excuse and, like I said, it can bring down consequences on your account. No good for anyone trying to grow their page.
How do you know if a hashtag is banned, then?
There are plenty of tools and apps that you can use to help with this stuff, but I’m going with a raw approach so that anyone can use this.
Here’s how you check.
Go to Instagram and click the magnifying glass icon. This is the Explore page.
Search for a hashtag in the search bar.
If that hashtag doesn’t pop up in the dropdown, then it’s banned.
However, they still can pop up. So you’ll need to actually tap the hashtag to go to its page.
If the hashtag is banned, it will have a message on the page, “Recent posts from [hashtag] are currently hidden…” and that’s your signal not to use that particular hashtag.
If you’re going to use hashtags, you need to know which ones to use. Yes, you could just come up with a topical word and tag it with that. But that’s not going to be your best bet. There are tried and true tags to use and ways to find new ones. Relevance and a strong circulation is important.
So, where should you research good hashtags?
One place to start is with hashtag generators and search engines. These can give you a quick way to find those coveted high-density and trending hashtags everyone loves. They can also help you find niche tags.
It’s a decent place to start your research because it provides a quick ad easy directory of useful hashtags at a few clicks of the mouse. Sites like hastagsforlikes, all-hashtag, and seekmetrics can all help get you started.
There’s a ton of these out there and some keep it simple and just give you a list of the biggest hashtags—like top-hashtags.
But probably the best way to find the good stuff is taking a more foot-to-pavement approach.
Manually researching hashtags can highlight the niche and truly engaging hashtags out there. Looking through similar posts and digging into the groups and communities around the niche you’re involved in is the way to find the gold nuggets.
Simply make use of the Explore options. Use the search function and start poking around. Instagram will dropdown suggestions for you when you start typing, so look for something topical and jump down that rabbit hole. Simple as that.
Remember this: posts with hashtags have been shown to increase likes by up to 70%.
That increase in engagement is certainly worth the time spent lurking around for a few minutes to find worthwhile hashtags, right? Yes… yes, it is. That was rhetorical. Don’t be daaafft… *raspberry*.
Anyway, take a look around your community and see what’s working for others. It’s that easy.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re extracting the good hashtags, so do some crosschecking. Gumshoe! And don’t be afraid to be a bit of a thief. In this case, at least.
Some Hashtags to Try For:
I’ve done a little research using the methods above. I tried to list a handful with a mix of both high and low-density hashtags. If you’re in any of these niches, feel free to try them out.
Writers and Authors
Remember, hashtags and social media in general are only a small portion of a well-rounded marketing strategy. But well thought out posts with hashtags remain a free and easy method to get eyes on your stuff.
Use up to thirty.
Don’t reuse the same ones over and over again.
Avoid using banned hashtags.
Research your hashtags.
That’s pretty much it. So, get to it!
Also, follow me on Instagram… BOOM! That’s what this was all about. Just one big ploy to get followers… MUWAHAHAHA!
Seriously, follow me. I need you.
My Instagram: Here