Last night, I was browsing through Twitter when I saw a question about Instagram hashtags. My friend, Melodie Tao of Marketing Melodie, started the discussion with a really awesome tweet. As a lover of all things Instagram, I was more than happy to jump into the conversation. I gave a somewhat brief answer as you are only given 140 characters per tweet. I received a response from someone else saying that my answer would make a good blog post. Of course, I could not resist the suggestion.
Melodie’s tweet about Instagram that sparked this post was:
“As an Instagram newbie I want to know: Is there a hashtag feature I don’t know about? How come some always hashtag 10 things in their photo?”
I am proud to admit that I am an Instagram hashtag junkie. I absolutely love adding many relevant hashtags to each image that I post on the social networking/photo-sharing platform. The hashtags serve several purposes. I use them to take from the network (by using them as a tool to get followers) as well as give back to it (by using them as a tool to find photos that I will, most likely, enjoy and “like”).
Hashtags on Instagram work the same way as they do on Twitter. They make your content searchable and they increase your visibility. If I post a photo of my dog, I may hashtag as many as 10 items (give or take) in the photo.
Sample hashtags for an image of my dog include:
Those are just a few of the “keywords” that I will use. In order to make it a searchable hashtag, the number sign must precede the word. For example, if a hashtag that I want to use is “Labradoodle,” I will write “#Labradoodle” when I post the image. These hashtags are what categorize my images on the network. Anybody looking for pictures of Labradoodles can search Instagram by clicking on “Tags” and entering the word “Labradoodle.” I just did a search and many images of my dog appear. If people have an interest in Labradoodles, there is a good chance that they will follow me when they see that I consistently post (and label) images of Labradoodles.
I love the hashtag feature because I love looking through the creativity of others according to things that interest me. I often search for tags such as “ocean,” “puppies,” “candy,” etc. This is how I find fabulous Instagram users to follow. I am always looking for new photographers via hashtags which, in my opinion, is maximizing the tagging feature.
Choosing your hashtags is important. I would not recommend using random hashtags if you are genuinely looking to build your following. For example, when I chose to use the word “Labradoodle” as a hashtag, it was not by accident. I did a search for hashtags and found that there are over 7,000 images with that hashtag. The word “Labradoodles” (a one letter difference) only has about 200 images associated with it. It stands to reason that people who use particular hashtags also search for that word so the more popular the word is, the better. Although it might not be recognizable to some people, there IS a method to the hashtag madness!
If you are new to Instagram and are looking to build your base of followers and/or find new users to follow, I definitely recommend using the hashtag feature. If you do not use any tags, it is very unlikely that your images will be found. We do not want that, right? Tag away and let your creativity shine!