Monday, 30 April 2018

Following Hashtags & Growing Your Instagram Audience

Do you follow any Instagram hashtags? If not, you are seriously missing out, not only on discovering amazing new accounts that aren't selected by Instagram to be on the Explore page but also on reaching a much wider and more relevant audience.  I'm so excited to share this as discovering this feature has been one of the things that brought me round to LOVING Instagram again and actually seeing a benefit from using it to promote my blog and other online ventures. It's easy to feel stuck in a rut, that your images are only getting seen by the same few people - break out of the mold and start using these hacks (are they hacks? I feel like hacks might be one of the most overused words on the internet) to set yourself apart from the masses!

 I've spent the last few weeks looking for information about this relatively new option and for once, the Blogosphere has come up wanting. I'd love to know about any other articles written on this subject from a similar perspective.

Here is how you do it, really simple. Just type the hashtag you want to follow and then click 'Follow' on the search results screen.

Easy right? The results will show up between content from users you have chosen to follow along with the username of the creator and the relevant tag.

I've always struggled with hashtags and which ones are the best to use. It's all very well that there are over 2 million posts under #nomnomnom but is anyone actually SEARCHING for that hashtag? It doesn't seem likely to me. I believe that there is a big difference between hashtags that are top searches and hashtags that are used on the regular. It's pretty hard to find this information online as it changes so often. One of the things you can use the follow hashtag feature for is to follow hashtags that you have been using on your own content, see how your content fits in and what other users are tagging their similar content with - #ukbloggers is a great one to start you off.

It's not the simplest thing to find out how many people follow individual hashtags, I have yet to find this information in a useful list form that I can link to. Occasionally, slid into my regular feed I'll see a little section like this which is another great place to find relevant hashtags to put in my caption:

Since I started using this trick, I've have a major jump in my Story views. As you can see above, following a hashtag means that all Stories marked with that hashtag will show up in their own little circle on your Explore page.

I've followed my hometown hashtag and I find that people tend to tag their Stories when they are going to the gym or eating out, it's given me a great insight into where is best for Sunday roasts in my town, as well as helped me to discover lots of local content creators who I like to follow and support. I now make sure to add a hastag and a location tag to every single one of my Stories and no word of a lie, it's improved my Stories views by hundreds. I used to get around 100 views on most of my Stories and since I've been tagging as much as is relevant, I've jumped up to getting an average of 400-500 views each and quite a few of those viewers turn into followers. The tags don't need to be super-obvious, you can actually make them small enough to blend in pretty well with your image if you don't want them spoiling your aesthetic.

Some of the biggest success I've had from this has come from locations and event tags. I've already mentioned above how using a tag relevant to my home town (literally just the name with a hashtag before it) has made a significant impact on my Instagram Story views, but I've also found that some of the best way to get views from new potential followers is to use relevant event and location tags on your images and Stories wherever possible because people are following these high-traffic hashtags.

When the #trippinwithtarte event happened, I did an experiment to see if this hashtag was getting a huge number of views on Stories. I used some actual Tarte make-up so my post wasn't a total sore thumb (keeping things relevant is key to turning all this extra reach into a growing audience) and I actually hit nearly 900 views on the Story.

I tag a location into all my content now, both my pictures on my main feed and my Stories and although I've been trying quite a few new things to grow my Insta, I'm convinced this has had a significant impact.

I also followed the #trippinwithtarte and several other major beauty launch hashtags and will continue to do so. This means I get some great beauty content and I'm coming across new make-up artists and beauty bloggers on my feed that I would never have found through the explore page. I try to engage with as much of this content as possible too, which also generates new followers and engagement on my own account. Now, I look out for hashtags that are relevant to the UK blogging community and I follow them to, I've really found some amazing Instagram profiles this way that have inspired me to become a better creator myself.
Once you have spent a few days adding these tags to your Stories and posts and finding new bloggers and creators through hashtags that you are following, you'll be able to start using this information to improve your reach and impressions. If you have found a tag getting you a significant increase in Stories, chances are it will have the same impact on the main content that you are pushing out, as it often means there are a lot of followers of this particular hashtag. I have found that many of the hashtags that I use regular don't have anywhere near the impact that I thought they would when I include them on Stories, so I've dropped them out of my regular copy & paste hashtag job and I'm switching in tags that seem to attract a much higher number of views.

The only way that a new follower will come across your Story is if they are actually searching for the specific hashtag that you included, so experiment with lots of different locations, events and individual tags to try and build a unique set of hashtags that will contribute towards getting your content in front of a wider audience.

Every individual will have a different set of hashtags that work for them and will be following a completely different set of hashtags themselves. You can see which hashtags a user is following by clicking the 'following' number on their profile and then selecting 'hashtags' on the page that their following list is shown. This is super interesting as it's a great way to find new hashtags to tag and test out, but it's also one of the things that promoted me to write this post. So few of my favourite social media agencies, influencers and content creators are following any hashtags at all! It's such a useful and interesting feature that I've made it my personal mission to try and get more people following hashtags in this way. Many of the bigger influencers that I follow have created their own hashtags for their fashion, travel or lifestyle content and this is another fun way to utilise this feature - you won't miss any of their content.

You could follow the tag for your favourite photo editing app, your favourite brands, influencers or charities to see their content more regularly. What about following the hashtag for a festival you are attending or your favorite resturant or holiday destination for serious lifestyle inspiration. Which hashtags are you following? I'd love to hear them in the comments below,

Katy x

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