hour day that I sign into Instagram to peruse the feeds to see what fun updates or interesting projects people have going on, I see the same hashtag mistakes over and over and over again. I feel that people are finally catching on to the importance of hashtags, but I keep seeing the same cringeworthy hashtag mistakes that contribute to the notion that hashtags are evil or they don’t work or that they’re spammy.
Before you go and post your next pic, read through this post to make sure you’re not committing the following hashtag mistakes! Your Instagram account (and you) will thank me for it, and don’t forget to get your free Instagram strategy worksheet at the bottom of this post (I got your back, Boo) 😘.
Hashtag Mistake #1: Not Using Enough Hashtags
If you’ve been reading my other guides and blog posts: you can skip on down to Hashtag Mistake #2 😜. I cannot stress it enough, if the maximum amount of hashtags you can use is 30, then why limit yourself to less than that? If one hashtag can increase your engagement or get you in front of 5 additional people (for example), and if 30 hashtags could get you in front of 150 additional (targeted) people, then why wouldn’t you want to get in front of more people? I get it–there are several blog posts out in the interwebs stating that using more than a handful of hashtags may look spammy or distracting, but there’s a way to “hide” your hashtags so they don’t take away from your message. If you haven’t tried using the full 30 (targeted or appropriate) hashtags, pleeeaase try it out and let me know how it goes. If you’re not sure how to hide your hashtags or how to find the right ones, check out this in-depth blog post here.
Hashtag Mistake #2: Using Vague Hashtags
Case in point: Emilia Clarke. Now I looooove me some Khaleesi, and I know she’s not using these hashtags to grow her following or to be “discovered” by other people, or to even categorize her posts, because #DontDrinkAndDriveDragonsCapieche only pertains to her IRL (unless you’re in Westeros). However I do see people go off on hashtag tangents, and no one is going to look up #thesearemycrazyeyes (I just looked it up for the sake of this post, it has 7 posts), so only use a weird or vague hashtag if you’re trying to make a statement, or it’s an inside joke, or if it’s on your personal Instagram account.
Hashtag Mistake #3: Using Hashtags That Attract Competitors
Are you using the full 30 hashtags, only to find that you’re attracting direct competitors to your account? A lot of people make the mistake of solely focusing on their industry when coming up with their hashtag list, and sure enough the only other people searching those hashtags are other people within that industry. This is why it’s important to do a little bit of social listening and use hashtags that your target audience or ideal audience is using. Here’s an example: say you sell those magical wraps that melt away fat in a matter of days. Your target audience for this is new moms that are trying to get rid of the baby weight. Rather than using #fatloss, #weightloss, or #bikinibody (as extreme examples) in your posts, use hashtags that these new moms are using when posting and perusing Instagram: #newmommy, #newmomproblems, #newmomlife, etc.
Hashtag Mistake #4: Using Too Many (And Incorrect) Hashtags Within The Caption
Have you #seen Instagram posts that #look like this? The #person seems to be #hashtagging just about every #word or every other word, and it doesn’t #makesense. This seems to me more of an Instagram newbie (rather than veteran) mistake, but I still see if often enough where it makes me cringe (and makes me want to anonymously email them and tell them that’s not how it’s done). Just to reiterate, hashtags are used as a categorization tool, as well as a discovery tool, so make sure to use relevant hashtags that apply to your post, or that you want to try to trend for. If you’re going to use any hashtags within the caption of your post (rather than in the first comment), it’s best to use two hashtags max, and make sure that the hashtags apply to the content within your post or your industry. If you want to include the rest of your hashtags within your caption, then try to bury them a little bit by adding a series of periods like this:
Hashtag Mistake #5: Using Hashtags That Are Too Generic or Popular
If you use hashtags like #instagood, #likeforlikes, #f4f, #love, #nice, #happy etc–I am willing to bet money you’re getting spammy comments and followers that are the complete opposite of your ideal audience, or people who follow you then unfollow you if you don’t follow them back. Do you know what happens when you use those hashtags? Your post gets buried in the feed in a matter of seconds, meaning very few people will see it (#instagood has 533 million posts, and #love has over 1 blllion–meaning people use them all the time). Not only that, but spammy auto bots will then be triggered to follow your account (and then unfollow you if you don’t follow back), or to leave annoying comments like “best one yet!” or “good one!” or my favorite “love this pic!” on a post that has a video rather than a picture in it. In addition to that, you’ll be attracting the wrong people because your hashtags are not specific to your audience, and you also risk the chance of your post showing up right next to a nudie pic or an inappropriate post (since those tags are so popular, spammers use those hashtags). Also, don’t use hashtags that are trending (like #JustinBieber) if your post has nothing to do with that trending hashtag, because then you’ll look like the spammer.
Hashtag Mistake #6: Using Trending Hashtags Without Doing the Research Behind Them
Funny story: I have a friend, Dani Austin and she’s an Instagram and YouTube whiz with tens of thousands of followers on her social media profiles. She’s a beauty and fashion blogger, and is signed up with Like To Know It to earn referral commissions for the clothing that she posts. She had been using the hashtag #ltkbump (because she saw other people were using it), but she didn’t realize that it’s for Like To Know It bloggers who are pregnant! Take a peek at the her post below:
Editing THE FUNNIEST video for tomorrow featuring my bro @landonaustin. 😂Can’t wait for y’all to see. In the meantime, I wanted to share this off the shoulder top under $50 with y’all! 🦋 Deets 👉🏼 http://liketk.it/2qdns #liketkit @liketoknow.it #ltkunder50 #ltkunder100 #nordstrom #ltkbump • – – #iamtheeverygirl #ootdsubmit #dailylook #inspo #detailsoftheday #instagood #igdaily #instashare #styleblog #dallasblogger
She is naturally slim, and clearly she doesn’t look pregnant! She realized her error and actually did a funny Instagram Story on it, but her posts were very often making it to the Top Posts (or Top 9) for that hashtag, and I can imagine what sort of backlash could have occurred for showing up cute and slim amidst a sea of preggo bellies. In the last two years, I’ve seen or read about countless hashtag faux pas that Fortune 500 companies have innocently and mistakenly used, that have had serious repercussions and people coming out of the woodwork to express negative sentiment. If you’re not 100% sure what a hashtag means, I recommend you research it beforehand to see what sort of posts pop up, to avoid a funny mistake like Dani’s or a more serious mistake that can turn into a PR nightmare.
Now, if you have a following of tens of thousands of followers or hundreds of thousands of followers, then the “rules” are a little different, but then I don’t know why you’d be reading this post 😜 I’d love to hear what other hashtag mistakes you see people doing on a daily basis, and then we can brainstorm how we can get this blog post in front of them 😉. Make sure and comment on my last Instagram post and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to enter your name and email below so I can send you your *free* Instagram Strategy worksheet to help you plan your content for the next week, month, or quarter.
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