6 Common Instagram Hashtag Mistakes and How to Fix Them

By Bradian Muliadi  | Jun 16, 2020 10:45 (edited)

Hashtags are undoubtedly one of the most important elements of social media marketing. Studies show that by just adding one additional hashtag, you can increase your discoverability by up to 12.5%. However, this does not apply to just any hashtag, and hashtags with high volumes do not always work effectively in social campaigns. Here are some of the things you should avoid in selecting hashtags:

1. Choosing Hashtags Only based on Popularity

It is tempting to use a hashtag merely based on its popularity. The reason is usually because we think that if we appear in a popular hashtag, more users will discover our post. Unfortunately, people often forget that a popular hashtag is used in so many posts that it’s incredibly difficult to land on the first page upon clicking that hashtag.

There is no one-size-fits-all rule of what size of hashtags you need to use. As a brand, you need to be able to keep track of your engagement because that strengthens your chance to appear at the top of a hashtag page. We strongly suggest starting with hashtags that have the small-to-medium reach, but maximum relevance to the topic or audience you are addressing.

2. Not Knowing The Content of The Hashtags

Specific hashtags are often used by a specific group of people. This is why it is important to view and learn what is in the majority of posts that use that hashtag. For instance, if you see more memes in the hashtag search results, it is best not to try to promote your brand there. 

The reason for this is simple, the content shown in hashtags search results indicate what kind of content people look for when searching or following such hashtags. If your post is not aligned with the rest of the posts, it is rather unlikely to perform well.

3. Using Only International Hashtags

International hashtags are typically more popular, and since they tend to ride waves of trends that transcend geographic boundaries, it is tempting to want to tag along.  However, the majority of businesses on Instagram are local businesses that cater to local markets, whereby sales is driven by local users as it is easier for them to purchase in local currencies with local shipping options. So do keep in mind whether you are a business targeting a local or international audience, and don’t just join international hashtag trends just because they are trending - sometimes local hashtags could get you better exposure and engagement among your target market.

4. Not Using Day-to-Day Words

Put yourself in the shoes of your target users and imagine searching for your product or service on the Instagram search bar. Users are likely to use simple and short word combinations as the majority of Instagram users use smartphones to browse the app. It is unlikely that they will be using industry-specific jargon or inconveniently long phrases.

Think about which words are more popularly used by users of your target market. Do they use abbreviations? For example, is it more common to type “Singapore” or “SG”? “Used” or “Secondhand”? Run some tests using the Instagram app and Instagram hashtag analytics to fine-tune your hashtags selections based on content reach, type, and engagement.

5. Using Outdated Hashtags

Just like every other social media strategy, hashtags are not exempt from constant change and evolution. Most hashtags are only popular for a short period of time before users lose interest or competition saturates the market.  Make sure to use freshly trending hashtags to enhance your discoverability.

6. Copying Hashtags from Other Instagram Profiles

Hashtags that are used by your competitors can be a good source of inspiration, but it does not always mean you should copy their hashtags. First of all, hashtags that work for other Instagram profiles may not necessarily work as well for you. So you should not blindly do so without prior research. Secondly, copying all the hashtags from a competitor means you are going to compete directly against a first-mover without a unique angle. This is not a very strategic move because, in the content-saturated world of social media, you should always try to find a differentiated approach to carving out an audience.  A good way to start would be by combining data-driven hashtag research together with a creative content strategy to devise a campaign that would head-turning and thumb-stopping.

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