Instagram is the best platform for purpose-driven brands to get noticed, build connections and make sales.
It’s not as hard to get seen organically as it is with a Facebook page (if you understand how the algorithm works), and there’s a massive community of like-minded supporters and potential customers just waiting to connect with you.
You don’t need millions of followers to make an income and an impact on Instagram - you just need to find and connect with the right people. One of my Instagram Academy alumni started making sales to strangers over the Summer when she still had less than 500 people in her audience!
One of the most important tools behind this success is hashtags.
How do hashtags work?
Hashtags on Instagram are a way of organising and categorising all the photo and video content on the platform. Essentially, they’re keywords that users can search to find content relating to their interests, location, problems they’re facing or topics they’re curious about.
Every post you create can be accompanied by a caption and up to 30 hashtags, which help your content get discovered.
But to really be successful with hashtags, you need to be strategic about the ones you use. The most popular ones will already have millions of photos associated with them, but this doesn’t necessarily mean millions of people will see and engage with your post. In reality, search results for that hashtag will be moving so fast, because new content is constantly being posted, that yours will probably get lost and seen by less people. With the algorithm now in place, it might not get seen at all.
It’s better to use smaller hashtags that are relevant to your content and community, which your ideal audience are likely to be searching for and which have good engagement behind them.
How do you find good hashtags?
The best way to find hashtags is to look at which ones your audience, competitors, industry leaders and influencers are already using.
When you type your hashtag into Instagram’s search bar, it will also give you relevant suggestions that are closely related to yours - and it will tell you how many public posts are already associated with your hashtag.
Remember, if you’re a smaller account you’re more likely to get discovered for smaller, highly targeted hashtags.
It’s also important to switch up your hashtags in every post to avoid being spammy and make sure you get seen by as many people as possible. If you’re always using the same ones, you’ll eventually notice your engagement start to drop, because nobody new is seeing your content.
Be intentional about the hashtags you use - keep them relevant to the topic of the post and what your ideal audience are interested in if you want to grow a highly engaged, targeted following.
What can the right hashtags do for your business?
The right hashtags will help you:
By carefully selecting the right hashtags for my posts about ethical and sustainable living, I've been able to attract a highly engaged audience of over 24.5K ethically focused followers who can't get enough of my content.
Plus my hashtags put my content in front of at least 80-150 new people per post, which means I’m constantly getting my message out there, getting discovered and growing my pool of potential new clients.
In practical terms, that means that when I’ve got something new to sell (like my hashtag cheat sheet), there’s a warm audience ready and waiting to buy. For example, one post on Stories about my cheat sheet brought in 7 sales within the first few hours of posting.