Why I Was Wrong About Instagram Hashtags (And It Hurt My Growth)
Instagram hashtags are still an essential key to exposure, growth, and engagement in 2019. This article looks at some best practices for using hashtags and how it can be used to grow your audience.
I have been on Instagram since 2009, and just this past week, in the middle of November of 2018, I realized that I have been missing out on a fundamental part of Instagram culture that has done nothing but hurt my growth and exposure: hashtags.
Now I know what you’re thinking…
Cameron, how could you possibly not know about hashtags and their value?
You’re telling my you’ve considered yourself an “influencer” for the past 4 years but only NOW realize the power of hashtags.
Is this ANOTHER article about hashtags….
Ok so look, I used to think that hashtags were worthless. They were ugly, bulky, and took away from the image. Well, in some sense, they are, and they do, but we’ll get there. First, listen to this story.
Last week, in a deep trench of thought about why others were growing on Instagram and why my page had been stagnant for the past year, I decided I needed to try something new. I saw that some of my favorite accounts that see consistent growth week after week were using that classic, big block of hashtags either in their description of as the first comment on the photo.
Now earlier they year I had tried this method on a few photos, but never really saw any benefit from it. However, I was open (and desperate) to try new things, so I gave it a try.
It might have been luck, timing, or some other random occurrence, but when I checked the insights page on this post I made from beautiful Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, I could not believe the exposure this photo had.
Let’s look at the data
First of all, at the time of posting I have 20,380 followers on my Instagram account, and this was one of the first photos to reach 1000 likes in months.
Diving into the analytics, I think the most valuable and impressive number here is the figure “7,420 accounts reached; 47% weren’t following you.”
As you can see from the impressions breakdown, an amazing 3,558 impressions came from THE HASHTAGS! I feel like this is some kind of miracle! Having my post be able to be exposed to so many people beyond my following is so valuable for growth and brand awareness.
Furthermore, from this increase in exposure, likes, and engagement through comments, saves, and sends, the Instagram algorithm favors this post more than usual, and thus pushes it to more of my following.
So overall, the hashtags made the difference on this post! Since I discovered this victory, I have used the same block of hashtags on my last 8 posts and have seen 6x the number of profile visits this week vs. an average week for me.
Per Instagram’s policy, only up to 30 hashtags work on a post, and from some of the research I’ve done on other blogs, it looks like there is no downside to using all 30.
Of course there are best strategies for using hashtags, but I will save that for another post.