OK, so you’ve read through Instagram for Makers: Begin an Adventure and you’ve got your business account all set up. And now you’re wondering, “Where do I go from here?” “How do I get some traction?” “How does my account get found?”
Well, my friend, let’s talk about hashtags and how you can use them to get our posts found, grow your following, and gain some momentum on Instagram.
What are Hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#) or pound sign, for those of us over 30, that helps identify the content of the post or image being shared. Hashtags help others to find your content. By searching or, now, following hashtags on Instagram, your potential customer (whether they follow you or not) will be able to find your post and engage with your awesome content and maybe, even, start following your account
Let’s take, for example, you just finished up a traditional granny square afghan. You take a photo to post to Instagram and want to be found by afghan lovers. Simply use the tags #grannysquare and #afghan, and you’re well on your way to being found. Whoohoo!
But, being found by people who love your image is just the beginning. There are even more reasons that you’ll want to use hashtags, in a strategic way, on Instagram.
Why Should I Use Hashtags?
Well, the whole point of social media is to be seen. By using appropriate tags, your post can be discovered by anyone interested in your topic or product. This is amazing because what would normally be seen by only your followers can now be found by hundreds of thousands of potential followers, fans, and customers.
So, by using a well-planned hashtag strategy, you can broaden the reach of your handmade business.
Not only will it broaden your visibility, but the right tags can also help you:
- Connect with your favorite brands,
- Network with your peers,
- Be seen by influencers,
- Engage with potential customers both locally and worldwide,
- Grow your “know, like, and trust” factor, and
- Bring you out from behind your computer screen and into the lives of the people you’re trying to connect with.
And, now, with the ability to follow hashtags (the way you would follow a friend or business), your strategy becomes even more important because your post will be shown in the feed of tag-followers who have already expressed interest in a certain topic…by following the tag…thereby placing your post directly in front of the very people who want to see it.
For example, I use a branded hashtag in order to find content to feature on my page. The tag is #mycrochetbiz. I follow that tag so that when someone uses it, the post goes straight to my Instagram feed. No longer do I have search for the tag…it’s right there. This follow feature has helped me easily discover and impulsively engage with a new designer and artisan accounts!
How Should I Use Hashtags?
We’ll get into an exact strategy for makers in Hashtags 102 but, first, here are a few quick guidelines for using hashtags.
- No more than 30. New Instagram users may not know this, while others will say, “Duh!” But it’s important and I don’t want to go without saying it. If you try to use more than 30 hashtags, Instagram will not post your image (or comment). You don’t have to use all 30, just don’t try to use more than that.
- Fewer may be better. Research indicates that using anywhere between 2 and 9 hashtags seems to be the sweet spot for optimal engagement.
- Be relevant. Now that users can follow hashtags, your image will be in the feeds of thousands of strangers. If they find your content irrelevant, they can flag your post by selecting “don’t show for this hashtag.” While the flag is meant to make adjustments for that specific user’s feed, if your post is flagged repeatedly, the algorithm is going to recognize it (and possibly YOU) as something people don’t want to engage with…and then your post is toast.
- Mix it up. Sure, you could make a list of hashtags that you love and simply copy and paste those into each caption (or comment…it doesn’t matter which). The algorithm may recognize that as spammy and decide to ignore or, even worse, shadowban your account. You don’t want that. Instead, create lists for different types of posts. For example, I have different lists for products, patterns, quotes, encouragement, business advice, personal posts, and features. And even within those lists, I mix it up every so often.
- Diversify. Use both highly popular and highly niched tags. This will help you reach a wide audience as well as a highly specific audience. Shoot for those tags that have between 10,000 and 1 million uses. To see how many times a tag has been used, simply begin typing (or search for) the hashtag and Instagram will show you its popularity.
- Keep it Short. Hashtags that are too long become unreadable. Nobody wants to look at #APatternIDesignedJustForYouBecauseYouAreAwesome when #crochetpattern will suffice.
- No Punctuation. Be careful that you don’t want to use apostrophes or any other punctuation in your hashtag. When you do, your tag will stop at the character just before the punctuation and will make your tag nonsensical.
- Experiment. Everyone’s followers will engage in their own unique way. Experiment with tags to see which ones bring you the most engagement and which seem to be the most popular with your particular market.
Hashtags are a handy tool to help you get your posts and products found, to build your following, and to connect with like-minded artisans. Use them wisely and you just might find great success using Instagram as a marketing and connecting platform.
Now for our maker hashtag strategy. Head on over to Hashtags 102: Best Practices for Creative Businesses to learn more.
If you haven’t already set up your Instagram business account, click on over to Instagram for Makers: Begin an Adventure for a tutorial.
Want to know where else you can promote your crochet business? Check out my post: How to Use Pinterest for Your Etsy Shop. This post begins an entire series of step-by-step helps for increasing engagement no your Pinterest profile, views to your Etsy shop and sales!
Want to save yourself some trouble? Grab your credentials to my Crochet Business Resources Library and have the Hashtags for Crochetpreneurs spreadsheet and many more useful worksheets, checklists, and spreadsheets available, at your fingertips, to continue building and growing a crochet business you love.
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