What does #hashtagresearch mean?

Updated: Jan 3

Recently, I posted a question on my Instagram asking my followers if they do any hashtag research. The majority of my followers all said they are just on Instagram for fun and don't really pay attention to hashtags or worry about them. However, the ones that use their Instagram for business purposes were inboxing me like crazy asking me to expand on what the heck I was talking about...

Here are my suggestions for nailing your hashtag strategy on Instagram:

  1. Think about your Instagram goals. Whether it is to gain a larger number of followers or engage with a more local (but smaller) audience - you need to know what you want to accomplish. These goals alone can tell you what type of hashtags you need to be using.

  2. When you think about your goals, make a list of niche hashtags or key words. If you know you want your customers to come from a local area, list some hashtags that apply to your area or market. I.e. Here, in Champaign, Illinois we have a few popular local hashtags including #chambana #outsideofordinary and #champaignillinois More than likely, people following these hashtags are potential clients from our local area. If your audience is large scale, but you don't have many followers yet you need to build a smaller following, locally, first. I.e. If you want to be a famous fitness blogger, you need to start within your area first like #midwestfitness This hashtag is small enough for you to get noticed but not so small that no one cares. And, another tip: ENGAGE with people using the same hashtags as you!

  3. Now that you have a good list of hashtags, use 3-4 per post and monitor. Monitoring is the most important piece of hashtag research. It is the only way for you to know what is working and what is not. And, not to confuse you even more... but a hashtag that worked 6 months ago on your account may not be what works for you anymore. Instagram is constantly changing their algorithm and if you want to have a digital presence, you have to follow suit.

Sounds easy enough right? Goals, Niche, Monitor. The hard part is being consistent about how you monitor. And, I'll be the first to tell you, that success isn't immediate and Instagram values long term consistency. There is no "instant fix" to social media, but if you invest the time and energy into your accounts it will help you in the long run to grow your business. Or, if you have the resources, you can hire a marketing agency to handle this for you.

If you're ready to take the leap and invest into social media yourself, be sure to monitor and reevaluate on the regular!

How to monitor your hashtag strategy:

  • Old School: Create an excel file and record number of likes, comments, dates, new followers, etc. based on when the hashtag is used.

  • New School: Download and use a monitoring system like Sprout Social, Iconosquare, Socialpilot or tons of others!

Tell me your favorite hashtag research strategies in the comments below!

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