7 Deadly Hashtag Mistakes Commonly Made By Instagram Marketers
Who doesn’t love sprinkling their Instagram posts with fancy hashtags that roll right off the tongue and get your followers to share your content?
We’re all guilty of trying to come up with the perfect hashtag strategy that will make our content go viral, attract new people into our communities and blow up our online presence.
After all, the latest market research speaks positively about the use of hashtags for promoting your content.
According to the latest data from SproutSocial, hashtags are extremely important for optimizing engagement rates and helping people discover your content.
Specifically, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag had engagement rates that were 12.6% higher than posts without hashtags.
However, people have started to abuse hashtags to no end.
Much like the poorly written blog articles that are endlessly stuffed with the same keyword to try and rank higher on Google’s search engine (SPOILER: That doesn’t work anymore), people are randomly using hashtags in the hope that it will help their account become bigger.
Here’s the thing: It actually doesn’t.
What happens is that you end up looking like a spam bot account. You know, the kind of account that Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm is specifically designed to identify and terminate?
You definitely don’t want that.
Instead, you want your hashtags to work FOR you. You want to attract highly-engaged, targeted followers that will easily become warm leads. From there you can easily convert those leads into sales and eventually turn your loyal fans into lifetime customers!
Remember this: Your #1 priority is to develop a loyal community of real, targeted and engaged followers who are genuinely interested in your content and will buy your products and services from you.
That is the most sure-fire way to creating an Instagram account that is always growing in size while staying consistently profitable.
If you want to do that, you’re going to have to avoid the 7 deadliest mistakes made by Instagram marketers when they try to use hashtags.
MISTAKE 1: Using Too Many Hashtags
Hashtag oversaturation is NOT cool. It also doesn’t work at all.
Just because you have the freedom to post 30+ hashtags on a single photo does not mean that you should be doing this.
Let me save you months of wasted time and tell you exactly what happens if you do this:
At first, it may appear as if your likes and follower count is going up. Your engagement rates will definitely increase, and it will seem as if your army of hashtags are doing their job effectively.
Not so fast!
Over time, you will end up attracting the wrong people. People who are not interested in your niche, and people who may not see your Instagram page or your published content.
You’ll also end up attracting spambots.
In the long term, you will end up with lower engagement rates and your number of engaged followers will also decrease. On top of that, it will be much more difficult to make it onto Instagram’s Explore page (which can do WONDERS for skyrocketing your growth).
And as any good marketer knows, the number of followers you have on social media DOES NOT always mean you’ll make more money.
So here’s what you need to keep in mind:
The overwhelming majority of large, profitable Instagram pages rarely use hashtags except in certain instances where they are specific to the brand or a given post.
You should use no more than 5 hashtags on any given post, and it’s fairly normal for successful accounts to keep their total hashtag count under 3.
MISTAKE 2: Using General, Broad Hashtags
If you are dead serious about turning your Instagram page into a growth machine, you’re going to have to ditch the generic-sounding hashtags.
You’ll have to get rid of any irrelevant hashtags that are not directly related to your niche.
Building a highly targeted following requires the use of highly targeted hashtags. It’s as simple as that.
You need to be able to attract the right people while keeping away people who are looking for something different.
Here’s a quick example:
If I have an account that pertains to Instagram marketers, using hashtags like #marketing and #socialmedia won’t fly. Too generic.
Likewise, #motivation and #hustlehard have NOTHING to do with the type of content I’m publishing.
Now if I have something like #instagramMarketing on my page, then we’re on the right path. See how that works?
SIDE NOTE: Avoid using hashtags that have a “4” in it, or anything that looks spammy. They tend to attract spammers like crazy.
MISTAKE 3: Failing to Do Your Due Diligence
It’s time to roll up your sleeves, open up your computer and get ready to do some hashtag research.
Here are a few easy steps you can follow that will only take a couple of minutes, while guaranteeing that you end up with the few hashtags that will actually help you attract targeted followers to your account:
1) Put yourself in your target market’s shoes
Load up Instagram’s search bar and ask yourself the following question:
“If I am a follower in my niche and I was searching for content that was relevant to me, what specific hashtag would I search for?”
This will take a lot of practice before you get good at it. You may find that what you end up searching for is not always the same thing as what your audience is searching for.
When you enter your first guess, you’ll be provided with a list of other hashtags. Each hashtag will come with useful data that includes how many posts and shared images on Instagram have used this specific hashtag.
Here are a few tiny tips that may help you speed up your research process:
- Avoid generic-sounding industry jargon. For instance, if I am an avid runner, I am far more likely to search up #runningshoes instead of #Adidas.
- If possible, use hashtags that are different from competitors in your niche. Your competitors may give you ideas on good hashtags to use, but ultimately you want to focus on hashtags that are unique to your target audience.
This free online research tool will do wonders for your hashtag investigation.
Not only will you be able to get a ton of real-time data about any hashtag on Instagram, but you’ll also be able to see what your successful competitors and fellow influencers are using.
You’ll be able to find similar hashtags to the ones you may be currently using, which will provide you with some fresh new ideas while you’re publishing content.
A friendly tip: Don’t bother targeting hashtags with 500,000 associated posts and above if you are a smaller account (<100,000 followers).
When you are still growing your account, more popular hashtags will bury your content underneath the more popular accounts getting higher levels of engagement.
Starting with less popular hashtags will help your posts climb up to the very top of somebody’s search feed when they type in said hashtag.
And that’s it! That’s really all you need to do for Instagram hashtag research – nothing more or less.
MISTAKE 4: Repeating the Same Hashtags Over and Over Again
You know how Einstein always said that Insanity is repeating the same things continuously while expecting different results?
Surprise, surprise! The same thing applies to using hashtags on Instagram.
Over time, you will find the hashtags that end up working well with you. You should definitely keep them in a place where you can easily re-use them again.
On the other hand, changing your hashtags every single day is a bad idea, as your audience will be confused by the sudden changes.
You need the perfect balance between consistency and variety, so here’s how you solve this dilemma:
Organize your hashtags based on the types of posts you are using.
For example, have a specific set of hashtags that you dedicate towards posts about your personal life. Use a separate set for posts related to technical advice. You should also have a third set when you are doing some kind of collaboration with another account.
Since you’re already publishing a variety of content on a daily basis, this will allow you the freedom to rotate between hashtags and attract new followers who are searching for those hashtags.
With that said, there is one exception you should be aware of:
If you are trying to A/B test new content strategies to see which variation will give you higher levels of engagement (likes, followers, comments, etc.), leave hashtags out of your post entirely.
Hashtags often get engagement from people who may not even view your post in the first place, which makes it difficult to determine if your engagement is only coming from people who actually view your content (which is what you are looking for).
MISTAKE 5: Putting Hashtags in The Wrong Place
In the real estate industry, the #1 thing that determines the value of a property is “location, location, location.”
What you’re going to see virtually every Instagram account do is put all of their hashtags at the end of the post, right after they’ve written a cute caption.
However, those same people are missing out on a LOT of untapped potential. Not only are they not attracting as many new followers as they could, but they’re also writing less persuasive captions.
Personally, I like to put my hashtags as a comment on my published Instagram post.
I do this for two reasons:
First, if somebody who doesn’t follow is searching for my hashtag, it will be much easier for them to view my content and see what I’m publishing.
Because my content is right in front of their face, they’re immediately engaged with attractive visuals and they’re much more likely to become a new follower.
Secondly, putting hashtags in the comments allows me more room in the caption to write something that will compel readers to take action.
Whether that’s clicking on a link or giving a shoutout to another account, I can be far more flexible in the approach I take with my caption copy.
That one simple shift can lead to some huge wins. Give it a try!
MISTAKE 6: Not Tapping into Your Local Fanbase
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could target highly-engaged followers in your niche who also happen to live in the same area as you?
If you can attract people who are close by, it’s a major stepping stone for future success.
For instance, you’d have a much easier time setting up a meet-up for your fans or even a paid live seminar that you’re offering. You might not attract your international followers, but you’d have people in your city rushing down the doors to see you!
The easiest way to attract lower followers in your niche using hashtags is through a well-known influencer strategy called “geotagging.”
Here’s how it works…
First, make sure you are using your research-found, street-tested hashtags that you developed as a result of fixing all of the previous mistakes.
(If you want, you may even consider adding a location or city specific hashtag to your post if you’re particularly trying to attract a local audience).
Before you publish your Instagram post, make sure to geotag it so that it shows your area.
Instagram users are increasingly using the “Near Current Location” filter in their search bar (located under “Places”) to find content, and you have the opportunity to be right in front of their face.
If you are a smaller business looking to get a ton of organic traffic and receive local exposure within their city, this is a phenomenal hashtag strategy worth giving a shot.
If not, it’s worth trying if you are trying to attract attention towards a specific location.
MISTAKE #7: Not Seeing Hashtags as Part of a Greater Marketing Strategy
Don’t view hashtags as something completely separate from the rest of your Instagram marketing strategy.
When you combine it with many of the other features the social media platform has to offer you, you can explode your growth at a rate you won’t believe!
While this blog post won’t go over every single combination, here’s how you can combine a massive traffic-getting hashtag with an awesome Instagram Story for ridiculous results.
Create your Instagram story as you normally would, remembering to add value to your audience and ending with a clear call to action (remind your users to SWIPE UP if they have to click a link).
Use ONE hashtag with your Instagram Story that you know will get a ton of traffic. If you followed Mistake #4, you should have a few hashtags that you can rotate frequently.
Then, tag your city of residence in your story, and publish!
Here’s all of the wonderful things that happen when you use this unique strategy:
When somebody searches for the hashtag, they can click the icon for the hashtag at the top of the screen and it will display all of the stories using the hashtag.
It’s a really efficient way to attract engaged followers in your niche who will also buy from you, while repelling people who wouldn’t engage with you in the first place.
This is a FREE strategy that will allow you to put high-quality content in front of millions of potential followers, while exploding your following on Instagram at the same time.
If you really want to go crazy, you can even test different hashtags out:
- Try a popular hashtag in your niche and post at different times of the day, see how many views and new followers you get (you can find this data by ‘swiping up’ on your Instagram story)
- Repeat the step above for every other popular hashtag in your niche.
This form of testing will tell you WHICH hashtags work best for your Instagram Stories at WHAT exact time.
For example, #fitness might give your Instagram Story the most followers and views at 2pm, while #nutrition gives your Instagram Story the most followers and views at 5pm.
Now You Are the Leading Authority on Using Instagram Hashtags – Go Forth and Conquer!
Congratulations – you are now the real deal when it comes to strategically using hashtags for attracting highly targeted followers, increasing your engagement rate and growing rapidly on Instagram!
While hashtags may not be the bread-and-butter fundamentals of Instagram, they are certainly a nice addition to your overall marketing strategy.
Now the ball is in your court – use the tips and strategies in this post to find the hashtags that give you the BEST results for your target audience and your marketing goals.