Choosing Common Tags is an Epic Fail
People who want to grow their Instagram walls most often find common hashtags and use the same ones they always use. While this tactic does get more exposure than if you post without a hashtag you have only scratched the surface of getting your content seen and consequently growing your reach.
Influencers' Secret Strategy
Getting your work seen by interested people is the fastest way to grow your followers.
Using hashtags is the way to get your posts seen by people who are not already following you.
Finding the Perfect range of use for each hashtag that corresponds with the size of your wall gives you maximum exposure to people who are interested in your content.
How To Find The Perfect Hashtag
Let’s say you take a great picture of a bird while hiking and you think it would make a great post for your nature-loving audience. You post it, add a catchy comment about young people bird watching too, you tag your location, and are set to add the best hashtags that get your post seen by people searching in Instagram.
You pop on Google and search best hashtags and go to a site that lists hashtags for birds. The list looks something like this:
#birds #bird #nature #birdsofinstagram #wildlife #naturephotography #photography #animals #birdphotography #wildlifephotography #birdwatching #of #ig #best #birding #aves #love #canon #parrots #art #nikon #perfection #pets #parrot #photooftheday #naturelovers #birdlovers #instagram #captures #bhfyp
Copy and paste and you are ready to post. Easy, right? Now people will find me?
Not so Fast!
Some of the hashtags in the list (#of #art #perfection #instagram #ig #bhfyp #captures #best #love) are so generic that they barely even apply, and the volume of competing posts so enormous that your post will never be seen by real people.
Some of these terms are a bit more relevant, yet still so incredibly broad that again your posts will simply get lost in the millions of other posts tagged with these hashtags. (#wildlife #animals #photography #canon #pets #naturelovers #animals #nature #photooftheday #wildlife)
But you have a great post, so won’t people find it?
How Instagram Populates Posts
Instagram populates posts according to how they are hashtagged.
Search #animals in Instagram on your phone. Notice at the top there are 61 MILLION posts that tagged #animals! Awe!! Puppies!
Notice in the first picture above the Top and Recent tabs just below the Related #’s? By default, only the TOP posts are shown to people looking up #animals. That means for every hundred or so posts with #animals, maybe one is popular enough to make that TOP tab. Almost nobody is seeing the RECENT posts, where your bird post is hidden for a short blip before being eclipsed by the millions of other people posting with #animals.
If you click on any one of the puppy posts here in our example, each averages over 10k likes and has 25,143 views.
Take a look at the third picture and notice the number of followers on one of the accounts from those posts. 234K Followers.
@cutest_goldens has 234k followers making it easy for them to rank in the “top posts” section for #animals. It’s their sweet spot. If your Instagram wall has significantly less followers, you can’t compete for that spot and consequently wont be seen using this popular hashtag.
Find Your Own Sweet Spot
The number of followers that your account has, acts as a proxy to determine engagement amount of the hashtag that you need.
Use the volume of posts as a proxy to determine how much engagement the competing posts are getting.
Take a few minutes to check through the relevant list of hashtags for birds, listed above, that apply but are still super popular. Using many of those hashtags wont get your bird post noticed either because they are also too commonly used for the number of followers you have. Again, check the number of likes in the TOP posts section and how their existing audience size correlates with the numbers of likes that post has. If you are still not in that range, you need to drill deeper.
The best app to drill into your niche available today is hashta.gr, by Pound Social. Click here to check it out.