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Using the best hashtags for your Instagram is key to getting eyes on your content and expanding your reach.

I was working with a client who had a photography business. She hired us to help her with her Instagram marketing. One of her “pain points” was figuring out the best hashtags to use for her Instagram. 

We sat down and went through what she was doing, and low and behold, she wasn’t using any hashtags at all. But she swore each time she posted, she added them to her caption and hit “post.” 

I sat for a second and thought… Well, technology doesn’t lie and there are no hashtags here… so I put on my Nancy Drew hat and asked her a couple more questions. 

Question 1: Are you adding them to the caption? 

Answer: Yes, each time like you mentioned

Question 2: Are you using a scheduling software to add them? 

Answer: No I’m just posting them throughout the day

Question 3: How many are you adding? 

Answer: I’m adding 35

BINGO – right then and there I knew the answer. Instagram only lets you add up to 30 hashtags in one post and if you enter over 30, it deletes your entire post – hashtags and all. 

She had no idea and was so relieved that that was the answer. She thought Instagram was deleting her content because they didn’t like it. After I assured her that wasn’t happening, we talked about the hashtags she was using and I told her about what I call the “hashtag sandwich.” 

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    The Hashtag Sandwich 

    The hashtag sandwich is something I made up because it’s easy to explain and everyone loves food – amiright!? 

    A hashtag sandwich goes like this: 

    The top of the sandwich (bread) is all about the picture you’re posting. 

    The middle of the sandwich (meat/ cheese/ tomato) is about your industry.

    The bottom of the sandwich (bread) is all about the locations you’re trying to target. 

    Here’s an example of what we did for her photography business. Let’s say her image was of a purple flower. Her top sandwich hashtags would look like this: 

    #Flower #PurpleFlower #Florals #Outside #Nature #Purple #[Type of Flower] 

    Then, let’s say she was a photographer that used a Canon camera. Her middle hashtags would look like this: 

    #Canon #Camera #Photographer #Canon_Photos #CanonPhotography #CanonCamera #NaturePhotographer #Photography #Photographs #PhotographyLovers #PhotographyLife #PhotographyIsLife 

    Then, the last part of the hashtag sandwich is her location. She wanted to target the Orlando, Florida area so here’s what she did: 

    #Orlando #OrlandoDoesntSuck #OrlandoFlorida #OrlandoPhotographer #OrlandoFL #OrlandoIsWonderful #OrlandoLife #OrlandoLiving 

    Hashtag Research 

    But, the key here is how did we get those hashtags? The answer is hashtag research. 

    There’s a lot that goes into hashtag research, it’s kind of like keyword research when writing an SEO rich blog for your website. But, don’t worry it’s not rocket science, it’s simple once you get the hang of it. Let’s dive in! 

    First, let’s keep this example of the photographer. Here’s how to do it: 

    • Open your Instagram app
    • Click on the magnifying glass at the bottom
    • Click on the search bar at the top
    • Type in “photographer” 
    • Then, click “Tags” – the third option over

    This is what it should look like below: 

    Best hashtags

    Once you’ve done this, you can see the top hashtags that people use related to the word, “photographer.” This is a good starting point because a lot of people use these and frequent them. However, let’s take it a step further. 

    Research The Best Hashtags

    One could argue that these are the ‘best hashtags’ for the word photography. However, if millions of people are using them, are they really the best ones for you OR should you look at ones that are less used? The answer is, it depends. If you’re getting a ton of interaction on your posts (meaning thousands or millions of likes) then you can use these. If not, let’s look at ones that are less used. 

    Now that we have this page pulled up, let’s click on the first hashtag, #photographer.” This is what shows up on my feed below: 

    Best hashtags

    There’s a key thing I don’t want you to miss, and that’s the Related section under the “Follow” button. See it boxed in red below: 

    This section is key because you can scroll through to see what other hashtags are being used by the same people who use “Photographer” and they’re less used because they’re more targeted. 

    Repeat Your Research

    The next step is to repeat your research for hashtags that you feel are relevant to your business or your industry. Type your hashtag into the top, look at relevant ones, then, click on that one, scroll through the relevant hashtags, click through them and so on. 

    Do this a couple of times over until you get 75 hashtags that you feel are related to your industry and your topic. 

    How To Use The Best Hashtags, Now That You Have Them

    Now, I’m going to assume you have a list of 75 hashtags that you researched, starting with a broad one, going down through relevant ones and then you got caught up in the rabbit hole – it happens – I know! 

    Now there are a couple of tricks to using them. Here they are. 

    Capitalize or To Not Capitalize? 

    We always capitalize our hashtags because it is easier to read and avoids confusion. I was reading a while ago about a hashtag of “nowthatcherisdead.” If you’re like me and thousands of other people, we read that as “NowThatCherIsDead,” when, in fact it was supposed to say, “NowThatcherIsDead” referring to a former Prime Minister. Here’s the full article to give it a read – it’s eye-opening!  

    Ever since then, we’ve been capitalizing our hashtags and our client’s too – I don’t want to get into a mess with an error that could have been avoided. 

    How Many Is Too Many? 

    This kind of depends on your audience BUT I always recommend 25 per Instagram post. People can now follow hashtags and with that, they stay up-to-date on what people are posting and the type of photos they add. It’s an opportunity to come up 25 more times than posting none. ALSO, this is how people search on Instagram. 

    Do I Really Need To Do This? 

    The answer is yes and no. Yes, you need to do it, and no, you can have someone do it for you – like us! We do hashtag research for clients all the time (and for ourselves too) and we’re pros at finding you the best ones to help your account grow – we did it for one account we manage and we just hit 30,000 followers! 

    At $97, it’s a steal to obtain 75 hashtags based on our research for you to use on your photos and for you to implement them over and over and over again! You can use them on other social media sites too (just not as many!). 

    To learn more about our #HashtagHelp, click here! 

    If you’re not ready to work with us, we have a F R E E downloadable that will help you craft the perfect Instagram page – because yes, that exists too. Click here to download it now. 

    I look forward to seeing how you implement the above and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Instagram or book a call to help with your marketing here.