6 best practices for using Instagram hashtags in 2018

Everyone knows that one of Instagram’s defining features is its hashtag system. Hashtags are a fun way to add dimension to your posts by highlighting keys aspects of it to appeal to people who may be interested in or talking about the same subjects.
For example, if you are marketing fall clothing, it’d be appropriate to add the tag #sweater or #autumn – and you’ll find that your post has been added to a new feed of other posts using those hashtags. It’s an easy way to let the whole world find what you’re posting.
However, not all hashtags are created equal – and just because you tag something accordingly, doesn’t mean that your post will rise to Instagram virality. There are plenty of best practices regarding the hashtag system, and even if you’re a long-time user of Instagram you may not be privy to new practices Instagram has implemented in the past year. Never fear, here’s what we know about hashtags and some tips on making the most out of them on Instagram.
1: Keep it Short and Relevant
Instagram allows you to add 30 hashtags per post, which might seem like a lot of wiggleroom but too many hashtags weighs down a post and can make it seem excessive or desperate for attention. To be honest, not every post necessarily needs one, but there’s not denying that posts with hashtags do tend to see higher engagement opposed to those without.  Still, keeping in mind that a handful is best, it may become harder to decide which hashtags to include in your post.
2: How to Choose 
 
A simple way of picking the right hashtags for a post is by looking at what’s trending. Taking a look at your audience, Influencers in your community and even you competition is a good way to get a feel for what’s considered relevant to your brand and posts. Doing what feels most organic to the post is best, so don’t incorporate anything that’s not linked or relevant to your post to begin with. Instagram’s search function also makes it easy to search subjects and find related hashtags on posts with that subject that are doing well.
3. Don’t Repeat Yourself
Repeating hashtags every post may be an obvious bad idea just because of how boring it is to have a feed with identical hashtagged posts. However, there’s a much more dire reason to avoid this practice. In the past year, users have noticed an incredibly large drop in engagement, and that seems to be linked to a practice known as “shadowbanning.”
Instagram, in an effort to lower spam and automated use on their platform, have been monitoring repeat offenders of hashtags. If it seems you spam your posts out by using the case hashtags for every post, Instagram may consider your posts as spam, and keep them from appearing in the tag’s feed.

As of now, Instagram’s been pretty mute about how they’re enforcing this system, but a best policy is to do as Instagram says and keep your content organic and genuine.

4. Audit Your Tags
Unfortunately, it’s very easy to inadvertently offend someone or include a hashtagged word that recently has been given an uncouth meaning. It’s a good idea to check the tags before using them, as it’s an easy way to make sure your tag is wholesome or at least not totally inappropriate. Researching WHY certain topics may be trending is also wise, because posting in that tag without context of why it’s popular can really leave you chewing on your own foot.
5. Brand Your Content with Custom Hashtags
 
If you’re running a contest or promotion, or have a specific call to action for your audience – it may be a good idea to create your own hashtag based on your brand. This way, users can adopt the hashtag when they’re posting about you, and you can search the hashtag to find a list of posts that are using the tag that was made specifically by you for you.
Making branded hashtags is easy enough, as long as you remember to keep it relevant and easy to use. No one’s going to be able to tag something #pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis but something as simple as #AmityContest is easy to remember, spell, and use. Plus, it’s unique enough that no one’s going to be using it without talking about your promotion.
6. Hide Your Tags
Truth of the matter is: hashtags aren’t very pretty. A perfectly lovely caption can be weighed down by even a handful of hashtags. When this happens, a good habit to get into is to hide the hashtags. The easiest way to do this is either by posting the hashtags in a comment directly under the post, or to insert enough line breaks into the post between the caption and the tags to create some distance and possibly even hide the tags altogether under a “read more” break.
So, there you have it. Using hashtags on Instagram isn’t as easy as it used to be, but by keeping this tips in mind you should be able to get into the swing of things and amplify your voice.

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