The Instagram Reach Dilemma, hashtags to your rescue

Organizing and categorizing makes things easy to find. Just like we name our documents, save them inappropriate folders and store it on our system drives, Instagram segregates posts and makes them searchable based on the #tags used to describe the picture. This means using the right hashtag makes your post easily discoverable by your target audience. Instagram now allows the users to follow hashtags which means if your content is catchy and memorable, your post will find its way on users feed. According to research, a post with at least one #tag has 12.5% more engagement than a post without any hashtags. Hashtags are clearly very important for increasing engagement for your post.

While the reach of the post is dependent on the hashtags you use, it is very important to use the right hashtags. Some of the important things to consider while tagging your post are as follows:

Branded Hashtags versus Community Hashtags

Hashtags representing a particular brand, or a company like #forever21 may have a more concentrated and narrow reach. On the other hand, community hashtags like #travel or #design are more generic in nature and have a wide reach. Be judicious when you use frequently used community hashtags as your post might get lost in the clutter of millions of others using the same hashtag. When creating your own brand hashtags, make sure that they are easy to remember and yet unique. If concatenating words to make a hashtag get others to look at it so it does not have an unintended meaning (Oops!). Amplify it by using it yourself and encouraging your customers, influencers and employees to use it. Do it right and you may have free social media traffic coming your way if your brand hashtags become popular..

Use Hashtags Relevant to the Content.

Card imageRelevance matters! Using irrelevant hashtags just for the reach can make your posts look like spam to Instagram users and worse to the Instagram algorithm. Some widely used hashtags may also expose you to bots. Have you seen a bump in your follower count after a post only to see it plummet in the next day or two? Well, you got bots.

Do Not Overuse the Same Hashtags.

Card imageAvoid overuse of any particular hashtag. The temptation of using a hashtag that works is great, but overuse of a particular hashtag would create monotonous content. This goes against the basic rule of creative and quality content and thus may lead to a decrease in engagement. Keep track of all the hashtags you have used and try using a different combination of these hashtags also with some new ones to match the content of your post.

Hashtags are your answer to increased reach and engagement, but it is not as easy as it sounds. It is very important to use the right hashtags - take a look at the posts for that hashtag and you may be surprised - it may not be what you expect. Instagram bans hashtags for reasons like spamming, offensive tags or tags that violate the Instagram user policy. Using these hashtags for your post may also decrease your reach and may also lead to your account being shadow-banned - your posts are not being shown because the algorithm considers them spam and you don't even know it! Hashtags should be researched before using them or you can use online hashtag generating tools to identify relevant hashtags for your post. Some of the tools that I find very useful for hashtag generation are Influencer Marketing Hub, All #ashtag and Rite tag.

The former two tools are free while the latter is paid, but they are extremely helpful in identifying popular hashtags. While tools can generate the relevant tags, they will not help you find the your own most effective hashtags. Use QMocha to find which hashtags are working for you and to find the optimal number to use for your account..

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