Why Hashtags Are More Important Now Than Ever Before
One of our favourite social media platforms is changing, and we’re not talking about a pretty new logo. Last week Instagram announced the release of their updated logo and format which shows a few aesthetic changes… but there’s chatter that they’ve added an algorithm change in and just distracted us with a pretty new logo. However, when talking to those who have been using Instagram for their business for the last few years, it’s easy to see that Instagram may have been making changes over quite some time.
While there’s no official word about algorithm implementation dates or releases, it is generally quite agreed upon that Instagram engagement has been decreasing over the last 12 months. Posts that once gained a large amount of likes and comments, are now lucky to see half the love.
This is debateable. Again, with no official word from Instagram we can’t go pointing fingers and blaming them. However, there have been reports of changes to the order of the Instagram feed from being chronological to algorithm based. This may be operator based too depending on if you’re using IOS or Android. At present my feed is still being shown in chronological order.
It is important to be aware though that despite whether or not your Instagram feed is shown in chronological order, there is a chance your followers still may not see your posts. This just goes to show that hashtags are more important than you might think.
Think about it. If one of your followers follows say 10,000 accounts, there is no way Instagram can show them every image posted from those accounts. So in some ways your feed is already based on an algorithm.
Another possible cause for the drop in engagement is us. The users. Pure and simple. With other mediums like Periscope and SnapChat coming through, it is possible that our audience is using Instagram a little less than previously. In addition, we are so numb to being fed information constantly, it usually takes something extraordinary to pull us out of our daze and react – be that with a like or a comment.
Do you engage as much on these social platforms as you once did? It’s so common now just to keep scrolling through. So how do we get our content in front of people?
The Work Around
I’m hesitant to call it the ‘solution’ because I don’t think there is an actual problem as such. I believe that if Instagram has released an algorithm, or will release an algorithm, that it means we will be seeing much more higher quality content on Instagram.
And really, that’s what I’m there for. As cute as your puppy dog is, it doesn’t influence my life seeing his little face 5 times a day. I want to see something that speaks to me.
So the first and most important thing we can be doing is sharing high quality content. Are you sick of hearing that yet? The reason it keeps coming up is because it really is that important.
Don’t just post a picture and run. Put some real thought into the caption that goes with the image. Make it high quality and detailed. There are times I’ll post in excess of 300 – 500 words in a caption. Give your followers a reason to seek you out. Make them excited to see your content.
But What About The Hashtags??
I know there are a few key influencers out there who have grown their following without having to use many hashtags but I honestly don’t believe this is going to be the way Instagram will work moving forward.
As we have established, it is getting more and more difficult to be seen on Instagram and using hashtags is one of the best ways to put your content in front of more eyes. It is obvious that hashtags are more important now than ever before.
With the feed becoming algorithm based, users aren’t going to continue to scroll through their feed anymore until they find the last point there were up to. Instead they will be seeking out posts they are interested in.
Hashtags give you the opportunity to put your content into these search results. If you’re not using hashtags, then you’re pretty much relying on your followers seeing your post in their feed.
How To Use Hashtags Effectively
Now, before you go and run off and add 30 different random hashtags to your posts, just remember that while you have the ability to use 30 hashtags, it’s not always wise to use them all.
If you use all 30, then a follower comments with a hashtag, their comment won’t be allowed because you’ve already reached your hashtag limit. I always recommend using 25 relevant hashtags for this reason. Yes, all 25 (or as close as you can anyway).
To keep your account looking tidy it’s also a good idea to put your hashtags in the first comment after you post your image.
And to keep track of relevant hashtags as well, you can use an app like Evernote to put all the hashtags you regularly use in and then copy and paste to the comments. So much easier.
So before you write off Instagram and become discouraged with the lower engagement, be sure to give the hashtags a good run and see how it affects your engagement. You might be surprised at how much difference a few hashtags can make.