For general learning today, I listened to Tim Ferris interview Seth Godin on his podcast. It was a pretty good episode and I took away a few key points: “sell what people want to buy”, “if something isn’t working it might be your business model” and that in business we have choices and you have to pick your poison.

My Poison today is going to be hash tagging on instagram. I want to know what hashtags I should be using and if they even matter. As part of my research I listened to the Stevie Says Social Podcast episode 56 and some google searches.

Currently, my hashtag game is pretty weak, this is not an area I have spent too much time considering. Rather I have a set of approximately 20 tags and I use these on each post with maybe a variance of 1 or two new or altered words. I only use tags on instagram, however I have an employee who often copies the hashtags from instagram over to our other social media platforms.

From what I understood of the podcast, hashtags can get you likes but they aren’t going to get you substantial growth if you aren’t using the correct tags as people will follow and then unfollow. If I remember clearly (50/50 chance at time of writing this) I also believe that it was determined that using hashtags on facebook and LinkedIn don’t really work, if anything they will reduce engagement. The overall point of the podcast was to demonstrate that using hashtags should not be the focus for growing a following online and this is one of those 5%er type things where you can use them well and it might give you a 5% edge (I made up this figure).

Sprout Social has a blog on “how to use hashtags on every social media network”. I am already cautious as I think it is in their best interest to make more work for people to keep their platform busy. I do like that they compare hash tagging to categorisation. It is a simplification but I am all about that. Using more than 2 hashtags on Twitter or Facebook = not good. Using 10 hashtags or more seems to lessen engagement but it looks pretty same-same when looking at their graphs. One piece of useful information is they list trends that most companies can use for topical content:

  • “Events and conferences (#WorldCup)
  • Holidays or celebrations #WorldPizzaDay)
  • Popular culture topics (#GameofThrones)
  • Popular hashtags for days of the week (#TBT)
  • General interest topics (#blogging)

I’ll probably be avoiding holidays such as #worldpizzaday though cause, who cares, but the other listed items are useable information.

The article also mentions a few sites where you can have your hashtags found for you and gives you analytics. They are all for twitter and facebook though. Given those two platforms only work with 1 or 2 hashtags I’m not going hard on these but for future reference is interesting.

From my own experience using sites that create hashtags for you, they are pretty hopeless and as the article suggests, it is probably better to go looking for similar content to yours to find relevant hashtags.

I have looked for content similar or related to my business where it is clear a social media expert has been engaged but the hashtags are still very generic. Will give them a go over the next week or two anyway and see how we go.

The best part of the article is using a branded hashtag. We currently use our business name but now I could get creative and make something a little more exciting. For the scale of my business though, this is probably a waste of time and not going to go viral. LOL.

It is interesting to learn that there isn’t any really good analytics for hashtag usage outside of twitter. This in itself makes me question the validity of using the hashtags for legitimate growth rather than ego boosting likes for business that aren’t selling or providing services that are ‘on trend’.

Next I have read an article by CreativelySquared (Jan 18) and they state “on average 5 hashtag views for every 1000 in feed impressions” on instagram. This is pretty shithouse and is worse stats than my estimated 5% figure above. The rest of the article goes on to talk about instagram hashtag theories as no one really knows what the algorithms do. The piece of information I took from this was that it is best practice to use limited hashtags that truely are relevant to your feed and business which means with different content you probably should be mixing up the tags.

In summary: Hashtagging seems to take a lot of work to get it right with minimal pay off. I think I will just come up with 3 # plans and stick to them for a few weeks.

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