Three Hashtag Strategies for Instagram Success in 2018

 Photo by  NeONBRAND  on  Unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Let’s talk about how to win on Instagram this year.

Consider this: Over 10% of the world’s population is currently on Instagram. As of December 2017, they reported 800 million monthly active users. So if you’re a photographer who wants to extend your reach and you’re not on Instagram, you definitely should be.

Here’s the thing though: Most of us have an Instagram; it’s getting our work noticed that’s the biggest challenge. The dreaded algorithm is a fickle beast, and with each update seemingly punishes photographers by delivering their images to only a handful of people. Is it even possible to get noticed anymore?

Thankfully, it absolutely is. Today we’re going to break down THREE best practices that you can implement on your Instagram today to start seeing growth this year.

I’ll start with something obvious, but that’s easily overlooked by many of my clients:

1) Know Your Audience

Who are you trying to reach? Knowing your target demographic is crucial to successfully increasing your reach, engagement, and conversions (whether that’s someone booking you, wanting to pay you for a promoted post, sending you free swag, whatever!)

The biggest mistake that most people make on Instagram is not having any idea who they want to attract, so they just throw a bunch of hashtags together and hope for the best. (Does this sound like you? If so, don’t feel bad. I was guilty of this too!)

Think about the kind of photography you do and the value you create. Who’s your customer? Is it newly engaged couples looking for wedding photographers? Actors and actresses looking for updated headshots? Customize your hashtags based on your specific niche and the audience within it.

2) Diversify Your Portfolio

Many photographers are guilty of only using super generic hashtags that have well over a million posts, meaning their images are quickly buried, giving them practically no visibility.

Think of hashtags as a mutual fund. (If you know nothing about mutual funds, just bear with me, this is an easy analogy.) You want to diversify your chances of being discovered by choosing a mix of popular hashtags and niche hashtags. If you only use super popular tags or super niche tags, you probably won’t see much growth.

Let’s use myself as an example. I’m a portrait photographer, blogger, and marketing strategist -- I help photographers grow their online presence and create a side-income for themselves. Which hashtags should I use to increase my reach? Here’s a look at some of the hashtags I use in my posts:

#blogging #buildyourbrand #businessowner #dowhatyoulove #entrepreneurmindset #folkportraits #freelancephotographer #inspiredaily #liveyourpassion #microinfluencer #northcarolinablogger #pursueyourpassion #selfemployed #sidehustle #smallbusinessowner #stayinspired

Some of the hashtags, #folkportraits for example, are SUPER popular, so the odds that I become one of the top posts there are unlikely. Other hashtags, like #northcarolinablogger, are very niche. That one only has 2,717 posts!

Using hashtags varying in popularity maximizes your visibility. Give it a try and measure your results.

3) Mix it Up

This is a point I mentioned in a post last week. Instagram wants users to find exactly the content they're looking for when they click on a hashtag. So it doesn't help at all to use a popular hashtag if it's not relevant to the content you're posting.

Many photographers use the same copied-and-pasted hashtags over and over in their posts, but you should avoid that. Some people have reported that using the same hashtags constantly can result in being “shadow-banned” by Instagram, where the reach of your post is severely restricted, and in some cases not seen at all.

Whether shadow-banning is a thing or not, it’s a good idea to mix up your hashtags so that they’re relevant to the image you’re posting. Remember: Good content + specific audience + relevant hashtags = success.

If you made it this far, congratulations! You’re serious about your Instagram success and many opportunities await you. 😉

Over to you.

Have any questions? Let’s start the discussion in the comments! Happy to help you all. 🙌🏽

Kevin Kleitches