How To Gain Followers With a Proven Instagram Hashtag Strategy

How To Gain Followers With a Proven Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Updated July 24, 2020
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Put your virtual hand up if you would like Instagram growth and need an Instagram strategy for your own, or your social media clients' accounts!

Of all the social media platforms available, Instagram is the one growing fast, furious and with fervor, and not just among the demographics of youth and Millenials.

Instagram has found favor among those with gray-ish hair and grandchildren, too

Digital marketing is shifting.

Emphasis is put upon videos, livestreaming, stories, and human-to-human connections, away from self-promotion and pushy sales tactics.

Our team at Social Media Pro is preparing some amazing content to be made available to you soon to teach you The InstaPro Hashtag Stacking Method.

While we wait for the roll-out of this method, we are going to take a look at what it takes to grow Instagram using a proven hashtag strategy.

In this article, you will learn how to research to use the best hashtags for organic Instagram growth.

Instagram Organic Growth vs Instagram Ads

One of the cool things about using Instagram vs Facebook in 2019 is that organic reach is not dead on Instagram. 

Organic Instagram posts reach followers, but also reach those not connected or following accounts, even if no ads are run. This can be accomplished with a solid Instagram (hashtag) strategy in place.

In contrast, getting organic reach on Facebook is harder and harder to attain. It’s not impossible by any means, but you’ve got to work harder and, yes, smarter, using techniques like Facebook groups and other social channels to push relevant content to Facebook pages.

Running ad campaigns and boosting posts is not something that most small business owners find sustainable for the long run. In contrast, figuring out how to hone in on a target audience with trending hashtags, trending topics and the right number of hashtags, just to name a few things, can have a large impact on the overall social media marketing results on Instagram.

As much as the need for Facebook ads seems to be almost mandatory to get any sort of reach at all on that particular platform, Instagram ads aren’t as widely used, and not used by as many people.

Instagram ads are a great way (and short-term solution) to bring attention to a service, product or campaign.

We have found that there is no immediate or pressing need to use Instagram ads consistently if you put some time and effort into organic posting and strategy.

Here's the thing: Celebrate it while you can as no one knows when the next Instagram update comes! For all we know, Instagram organic reach will be a thing of the past soon enough.

Instagram Hashtags Basics

So let’s dive in! 

Before getting to any Instagram hashtag strategy or research, we want to share the Instagram basics.

Check out these FAQ re Instagram hashtags.

Where should hashtags be placed; in the caption or the first comment?

The argument between caption and first comment supporters is on-going. New studies come out supporting one or the other. 

Last year, we concluded that putting your hashtag in the caption made the most sense for busy social media managers. However, since then several Instagram scheduling tools have added the ability to schedule those first comments, taking away the time component.

We stand by our advice of repeated testing what works best for your audience with regard for hashtag placement.

How many hashtags should be used per Instagram post?

The limit of hashtags per post is 30. 

Why would you not want to use 30 and reach as many people as possible? We aren’t sure who thought up that argument, but we see no basis for anything other than trying to use the maximum number of hashtags unless of course, you are a huge brand or influencer who has a large following already.

Does using 28 hashtags vs using 30 make a difference? Most likely not a noticeable difference. Using only 4-6, as some experts advice vs 30, is not a good idea.

What type of hashtags should be used? 

We usually advise our students to group hashtags into several categories.

These include

  1. Brand hashtags
  2. Location hashtags
  3. Product/service hashtags
  4. Trending hashtags

Using a variety of hashtags from each group will give you a well-rounded group of tags to use. 

Tools to Use for Instagram Hashtag Research

Doing hashtag research is the first requirement for increased Instagram organic reach!

It is an amazing way to find new hashtags to use for your upcoming campaigns and posts. 

Here are several tools to check out.

  • Hashtagify
  • Smarthash
  • Ritetag
  • Tailwind
  • InstaVast

NOTE: We recommend you only use Instagram approved partners for any Instagram related tool!

If you are serious about Instagram and hashtag usage to increase reach, boost engagement and grow a following, we highly recommend you use the following ‘tools’:

  • pen and paper
  • 15 minutes

Do your due diligence inside the Instagram app for best results! 

instagram pro tar'lese trainer

Instagram Hashtag Strategy Research Explained

Here is how you do this hashtag research. 

A) Start by putting a keyword into Instagram search.

Say the keyword is #plants. The hashtag #plants has been used 26.2 million times as of today. That’s a lot. We don’t recommend you use that one – as your post would get buried in the Instagram feed within mere seconds of posting.

Instead, find related hashtags that say similar things.

Think about the

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • How
  • Why

of #plants

Maybe #greenthumbs or #greenthumbsandiego would be better – less usage of the hashtag. 

B) Next, think about the end-user – if you were looking for information about #plants, what would you be typing into Instagram?

Look to what hashtags others are using in that same industry. Try ‘shortening a sentence to create a hashtag, too.

Example “Plants that are toxic for pets” could become a hashtag #toxicplants  or #toxictopets

C) List the hashtags you are finding into groups by usage.

One list should be hashtags that are used <10,000 times. Another list should hold hashtags used 10,000-50,000 times. The third list should contain popular hashtags that have been used between 50,000-100,000 times. Lastly, a list of the most popular hashtags containing those super hashtags used more than 100,000 each.

D) Once you have these lists of keywords and hashtag, use additional SEO tools (like Answer The Public) to find even more hashtags to add to these lists. We recommend you use something like Evernote or your notes app to keep track of these groups for easy ‘copy and paste' function for when the time comes to post.

E) Now it's time to do split-testing!

Test for the timing of the posts, groups of hashtags and number of hashtags in each category. Using the 5-5-5-5 method is a good way to to do this testing. (5 of each category and/or list)

Remember, getting it ‘right' or hitting a sweet spot will be different for every account you manage.

Implementing an Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Last but not least, you have to be willing to do the work!

Implementing a hashtag strategy requires you do the work, consistently for at least 21, preferably 28 days.

Use DMs, stories, commenting and liking posts to grow your reach.

Really what we are telling you here is to go ‘old school'.

No

  • Tricks
  • Quick Fixes
  • Automation

Instead, talk to human beings!

Have conversations, throw everything you have into engagement and test those hashtags to see which ones give you the best reach. Think quality over quantity of posts.

We promise you, you will see results and grow your Instgram following!

Stay tuned to this blog for the exact blueprint of the InstaPro Hashtag Stacking Method, giving you even more Insta-results.

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