In my last post about how to get sponsored on Instagram, I promised to talk about an effective hashtag strategy for travel bloggers. Specifically, I am going to talk about how to get featured as a “Top Post” in multiple hashtag feeds!
Understanding Hashtags on Instagram
Think about hashtags as if they are your keywords in a blog post. The hashtag feed on Instagram will then be your Google Search results, and the “Top Posts” in a hashtag feed are the first page of Google!
As you know, Instagram limits you to a total of 30 hashtags per post. So, treat every single hashtag as an opportunity to get featured as one of the top posts within your chosen feeds. As a result, not only will your engagement increase, your post will be viewed first and for longer by other users and potential clients too.
What Makes a "Top Post" on Instagram?
Instagram’s “Top Posts” take into account the speed of interaction (likes and comments) and engagement ratio (interaction compared to total followers). You are then competing with everyone who has used that hashtag in the past 24 hours or so.
It’s important to note that there are numerous variables, so I’m not trying to give you the perfect formula. However, there are a few techniques you can learn to dramatically increase your chances of success. In this blog post, I talk about a technique I use frequently, but please let me know in the comments if you have any more!
An easy takeaway: If, like me, you are yet to achieve thousands of likes and comments consistently per post… IGNORE POPULAR HASHTAGS!
Most of us here are travel bloggers, but do you know what hashtag you will never see me use? #travel
It’s like trying to rank on the first page of Google for “travel” as a keyword. Even though your blog post is about travel, it is just too competitive! Some of my best performing blog posts include niche keywords and search terms.
Using popular hashtags might get you a few quick likes but with an endless series of new posts, your post will disappear from the feed in seconds. It’s much more effective to utilise all of your hashtags and aim for a top post in order to get featured for longer.
So, this method is what I like to call…
The Hashtags Snowball Effect
So, you are not going to get into the “Top Posts” in a popular hashtag without a million followers or an effective hashtag strategy. You need to start small and build up to it.
The secret is simple; it’s much easier to get a top post in lesser-known hashtag feeds. That’s why it’s important, especially for beginners, to use both popular and niche hashtags (< 300k posts). By doing this, you will gradually build your engagement and feature as a top post in larger hashtag feeds as your engagement snowballs!
Start low. Aim high.
- 2 hashtags with feeds of < 20k posts
- 5 hashtags with feeds of < 50k posts
- 8 hashtags with feeds of < 100k posts
- 10 hashtags with feeds of < 300k posts
- 5 hashtags with feeds of < 1m posts
Remember: Adjust this method depending on your following and engagement rate. I am basing the above on a 10k account with 400 likes per post and 10+ comments. Decrease your participation in popular hashtag feeds (> 300k posts) if you have lower engagement, increase the amount of popular hashtags if you have more.
Keep on testing. If you are smashing the first few tiers with ease, try increasing your number of higher tier hashtags.
Additional Tips to Boost Your Instagram Game
Hide Your Hashtags
To maintain clean and visually-appealing posts, try not to share all of your hashtags in the caption. Hide them immediately afterwards in a comment.
Better yet, include 5 dots on individual lines so they are hidden further in a drop-down shelf.
Avoid Spammy Hashtags
I.e. #like4like, #follow4follow. It can be tempting, especially for new users. But if you look at the accounts who participate in these tags, it’s unlikely that any of them truly care about the content you are posting.
Your hashtags are your KEYWORDS! Think about what your brand represents and what your post is saying. It is better to get attention from an audience best suited to you. Be specific in order to build a meaningful and more engaged audience.