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Hashtags for reach, necessary?

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

What is a hashtag? How do we use it?

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Instagram & Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic. You must have noticed ‘#MeToo’ trending on all social media platforms during the ‘Me Too Movement’. This hashtag proved invaluable for providing and following up-to-the-minute news about the movement. Hashtags for such situations also provide a way for the public to express their sentiment — something many of us feel compelled to do in the case of a disaster. When it comes to natural disasters, a hashtag is like an information lifeline. We cling to it, to learn more about the event and provide an emotional outlet. Hashtags, however, are not limited to big news stories. Not only Small business marketers, but also social media influencers have cracked the code and figured out inventive ways to use hashtags. But before we talk about the ways, let’s learn how to hashtag.

We obviously start with the # sign and follow it directly with letters and sometimes numbers. Simple as that.

Where do we use hashtags?

We know how to create a hashtag. Now let’s talk about where to use it. In this case, we’re going to focus on Instagram. Hashtags can be used to complement photos shared on Instagram and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers. Some hashtags were created specifically for Instagram photo challenges. #ThrowbackThursday, for example, encourages users to post retro photos.

Will using Hashtags get me Likes?

Twitter started the trend of hashtags. But soon, with the growing popularity of the concept other social media giants stepped in & implemented the same feature. Since we’re focusing on Instagram, I did a little experiment to see what difference does it make when you use Hashtags for your photos on Instagram. When Instagram was first launched in 2010 it obviously didn’t have a lot of users. I remember being among the first batch of people to make an account over there. Back then it was only used for it’s wide range of filters to apply on the photos. With not many users, it was very easy to showcase your photos on the platform. So we didn’t really have to make much effort to be visible. Today, Instagram boasts more than 1 billion active users. It’s very hard for even known people to get their creativities out in the open world. This is where using hashtags comes in. During the Me Too Movement, users would search ‘#MeToo’ on Instagram to know more about the movement & too look up posts related to it. This way, it got the exposure it needed. But as I said before, hashtags are not limited to big news stories. People have been using it as a way to get the desired reach. In order to do that, you can use any hashtag that describes your post....or even any that doesn’t. That’s basically what I tried out in this experiment. Does using more hashtags get you more likes? YES! Even if it isn’t related to the kind of post you’re putting up. But is it a wise thing to do? Let’s find out.

Instagram post without hashtags

I have roughly around 2,000 followers on Instagram. I barely use any hashtags for my posts because well, I frankly used to think it’s a bit silly using keywords to get likes. So here’s a picture that I posted without adding any hashtags to the caption.

Well, just around 300 likes out of the 2000 people that follow me.

Here’s another one

Again, no hashtags & just around the same amount of likes.

Now lets try...

Instagram posts with Hashtags

Here’s a pretty cool picture of a cute dog basking in the sun. Deserves a good amount of likes doesn’t it? Well currently, we have a significantly lower number than we would expect. Now let’s trying adding some hashtags.

So I've decided to add hashtags that seem appropriate considering the picture while keeping in mind that they need to be common & something that people would normally like to search.

#dog #cute #doglife #petstagram

As you can see, the amount of likes have been significantly increased! That is because I've enabled Instagram to get my creativity out in public.

Instagram Post Insights

If you have a business account or a creators account, you can actually check the amount of people that have visited your profile through a particular post & also the amount of people the post reached.

Hashtags for reach, is it necessary?

Absolutely yes! However, Using hashtags that have nothing to do with the post will surely get you more likes but will leave a bad impression on how your overall profile looks. Makes you look desperate if you ask me! The right hashtags appropriate to the post is the way to go!

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