Hashtags continue to be an integral part of content marketing strategies, but with algorithms across social media platforms, it may be hard to know if your hashtag strategy is as effective as it once was.

The hashtag focus this month is Instagram - where hashtags can truly make or break your content marketing strategy and engagement tactic.

Below are our recommendations to maximize hashtags into your Instagram strategy.



1. Goals and Metrics

When approaching hashtags on Instagram, the first thing you need to consider and prioritize are metrics. Who is your target audience? What are your engagement goals? And what is your strategy to reach these people and bring them in as loyal brand advocates?

Outlining these goals will help you accurately analyze and research the right hashtags to reach your target audience.

Some things to consider when doing this research:

  • How often is content posted in this hashtag?


    If it’s a large quantity, it’s good to mix up the types of hashtags you are using. For example, you could use a less popular hashtag with 1,000 posts AND use the very popular hashtag that has 500,000 posts. This way, you can expand your reach beyond the most popular hashtags. Finding a good range is key to driving your content to your target audience

  • Is my audience engaging with users who are using this hashtag?


    Look for high-quality engagements like comments. Likes are great but comments are key

  • What type of content is being generated with this hashtag?


    Really look at the content that populates when searching this hashtag. Is it mainly spam? If so, it’s good to avoid it and not include it in your content marketing strategy


2. Number of #'s

How many hashtags should I use? Is the number one question I hear with clients, time and time again. This is an algorithm centered debate that all strategists have looked for answers to. While you can include 30 hashtags in a caption and 10 on your Instagram story, should you max out every time you post? The answer is no. My colleagues and I are continuously testing analyzing and changing our strategy but we have seen a sweet spot of about 10 to 12 hashtags on a post for our clients. There are many factors like the target audience and goals that will influence your strategic approach.

When you max out using all 30, your content appears spammy, scattered and not targeted. By aligning your goals and target audience you can strategically plan the 10 to 12 hashtags that will expand your content’s reach and drive your brand awareness further.



3. Caption vs. Comment

As most Instagram users have seen, there are two approaches to hashtags for Instagram posts. The first is integrating hashtags into your caption. The second is going back and posting a comment to your post with the intended hashtags. We have been testing both over the past few months and continue to do so to see what really drives reach further.

The answer? Both. We have not seen one tactic stand out from the other but we like to integrate both approaches to continue to monitor and watch how our results and analytics in comparison to one another. I encourage you to do the same to truly see how your audience responds and engages with both approaches.

Zilker Media Instagram Caption Zilker Media Instagram Caption


4. Instagram Hashtags Bans

A growing topic in the Instagram community is hashtag bans. Over the past few months, Instagram has been quietly banning certain hashtags that are either inappropriate content or generating massive amounts of spam. But as you may have seen it’s an evolving process as they work to fine-tune some issues.

Staying up to date on these hashtags are critical - using banned hashtags can result in your other hashtags not working as well and overall killing the reach of your content.

Unsure if a certain hashtag is banned? Here is a good list to get you started.



5. Creative Hashtag Strategy

Lastly, creative hashtags for strategies - should I generate my own hashtag? Yes! I highly recommend creating a hashtag that fully brands your campaign that users can use especially to build online communities.

This is a great way to not only build brand awareness but to fully track your campaign's efforts from user-generated content. As you work to create this hashtag for your campaign, make sure it is not already being used and that you can fully own the results of it - this is the best way to generate engagement solely for your brand or client.

Be sure to be consistent and have fun with the creative hashtag campaigns. At Zilker Media, one of our favorites is our #ZilkerMediaMondays where every Monday we share a fun fact from one of our team members.

Zilker Media Instagram Post Zilker Media Instagram Post

Make the most out of integrating Instagram into your strategy and consider these tactics when approaching hashtags within your content marketing.

Curious about the state of hashtags for Twitter? Take a look at my previous blog post here.



Author Bio:

Nichole Davidson Williamson

Zilker Media Brand Strategy Director