Instagram Hashtags Not Getting You Likes? Here’s What You Can Do

Hashtags are a popular phenomenon across a number of different social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn. Yet, it is on Instagram where hashtags play a central role in the way the app is used.

Instagram lets users follow hashtags on your timeline. For instance, if you are an interior designer, you could follow a hashtag like #interiordesign to stay updated on the latest trends and styles in this industry.

Find the right hashtags

Picking the right hashtag is thus half the battle. Going back the example of hashtags related to interior design, a search on Kicksta’s hashtag generator  lists the following hashtags as having more than a million posts each.Instagram Hashtag Generator

Quite clearly, these are the most popular hashtags related to this industry. Posting content with these hashtags should help you reach the maximum number of users. Right?

Not necessarily. Popular hashtags like these are also the most competitive. With over a million posts made with a hashtag like #interiordesign, chances are that your post with this hashtag could get drowned among several other posts that get made with yours.

Pick niche hashtags

There is another factor to consider here. A topic like “interior design” is pretty broad. What interests one user and fetches likes and engagement may not interest another user.

In other words, when you use broad hashtags, then your post reaches a good number of users who are not particularly interested in what you have posted. Instagram’s ranking algorithm places a lot of emphasis on user engagement. So when that does not happen, Instagram tends to rank your posts lower and lower.

Here’s the fix -try to include hashtags that are highly relevant to what you post. For example, if you are posting about books on interior design, you could use a hashtag like #interiordesignbooks. If your design incorporates a certain element of styling, then use hashtags relevant to this style may be used.

While this does help you reach your targeted users better, this does not solve your purpose always. Niche hashtags don’t tend to be followed as often  as broad hashtags are. Consequently, while engagement stays high with such hashtags, they reach a vastly lower number of people.

Increase hashtag count

It is here that your hashtag count is useful. Instagram lets user add up to 30 hashtags for each of their posts. While many marketing gurus recommend limiting hashtags to around five or six per post, you can maximize reach by maximizing your use of hashtags.

The recommendation to lower the number of hashtags is not without merit though. Hashtags do not contribute directly to the conversation you are making with your followers. As such, cluttering your description field with hashtags can seem excessive and spammy.

One way to maximize the use of hashtags while keeping it clutter-free is by using multiple line spaces between your description and the hashtags. Some users also tend to include hashtags as part of a comment and not within the description.

Trending hashtags

Another problem with hashtags is that new trends emerge all the time. Using the same hashtags for each of your posts can bring down the engagement on your posts over time.

One way to work around this is through competitive analysis. The process here is straight-forward – pick a popular competitor in your industry and look up the hashtags that users tag this company with in their posts. Here is a quick guide on Instagram search from Mentionlytics that explains this process.

  • Enter the name of a competitor you want to monitor
  • Configure the data source for your monitoring and set it to Instagram
  • Sort the results by top trending hashtags to view all the emerging hashtags against your competitor.

Of course, not all of this may be applicable to your business. But if you notice a sharp rise in the number of followers to a relevant hashtag in your industry, it is a good idea to start using this in your posts as well.

Competitive analysis of hashtags

What is your competitor doing that is working for them? A competitive analysis of their Instagram submissions can go a long way in giving you insights to increase your likes as well.

You do this by building a large list of Instagram accounts that cater to your target group – only include those accounts that are fairly large (at least 40,000 followers) and have a highly engaging comments section.

Next, identify patterns in the kind of content they publish. Once you have an idea of what works, produce similar content of your own that can be posted on your Instagram feed. Have at least 30 of such posts ready for submission.

Third, go through the list of popular Instagram accounts again and prepare a list of hashtags that are in the ‘medium popular’ category – that is, about 20K to 200K posts containing them. You may also have a similar list of ‘highly popular’ hashtags – those with over 500K posts.

Finally, schedule your Instagram posts with 30 of these hashtags included in each of them. Generously rotate these hashtags across these posts and schedule not more than 2 per day.

This strategy is helpful in two ways. One, it helps you efficiently replicate the success of your competitors. Also, shuffling your hashtags gives you better insights on which hashtags work and which ones don’t. You can now steadily bring down your hashtags count to ones that work most effectively and stick with them.

 

How Will Instagram Checkout Change ECommerce

Last month, Instagram announced the launch of Checkout, a new feature that will allow users to check out products from brands from within the app and even make purchases without ever having to leave the app.

The feature works quite smoothly on the limited number of accounts that it is now available on. For instance, if you visit the @NikeTraining Instagram page now, you will find a number of posts with a ‘shopping bag’ icon. These are posts with products that you can purchase.

Hitting any one of these posts will take you to the image with a ‘Tap to view products’ message. You may pick the product you like, and then also customize your purchase based on size, color, etc. and make the purchase. Instagram users outside the US are now displayed a ‘Visit Website’ option instead to make purchases directly from the brand’s website.

From a business perspective, this is a huge step for Instagram as it builds a sustainable business model around its current visual social networking platform. The potential is huge. Instagram could, in theory, open this feature to everyone, and this could make way for influencers to make affiliate commissions for products they refer on the app. Today, Instagram does not have a way to monetize the huge influencer marketing ecosystem, which will change with this new feature.

So what does all this mean for the eCommerce ecosystem at large? Although the feature is in closed-beta right now, we expect the Checkout feature to be available to all businesses in the next six to twelve months. When that does happen, we are likely to see a huge churn in the way eCommerce businesses operate.

Think of the small-time retailer selling fashion accessories online. Today, most of them have a store on eCommerce platforms like Magento or BigCommerce. Customer acquisition is a huge pain given that most buyers head to Amazon online. Given that Search engine is no longer a viable channel for these small time stores, most of them head to social media to attract eyeballs to their stores.

Alternately, most of these small time stores who do not sell products that is a good fit for social media (think auto spare parts) choose to list themselves on Amazon instead. After all, if Amazon outranks your website on Google for every conceivable query, it is a good idea to join them rather than fight them.

But with Instagram Checkout in place, store owners no longer have an incentive to run their own store. They may, as well, list their products on Amazon, Facebook (which already has a Store feature), Instagram and every other customer acquisition channel and monetize directly instead of having to bring customers to their website and then translating them into sales. Selling on Instagram has lesser friction than acquiring traffic from this channel and converting on the site.

That does not mean stores will not have a website presence at all. Instead, most store owners might choose to use websites purely for marketing purposes like content marketing or to build a mailing list. Spending on a store may seem like an unnecessary expense.

That could however not be the case if the various stakeholders in the ecosystem adapt suitably. Should Instagram charge users a monthly fee based on the number of products they have listed, that could make the platform less attractive to sellers.

At the same time, should platforms like BigCommerce move away from a subscription model to a model based purely on processing fee, it increases the likelihood for sellers to continue selling on these web platforms while using Instagram as an alternative source. After all, selling on your own store gives you a level of control that would never be possible over third party platforms like Instagram or Facebook.

But from a buyers’ perspective, Instagram Checkout is more user-friendly. Imagine coming across a new seller you want to buy from. If you were to land on their website, you will be required to go through the entire checkout process like entering your billing and shipping details manually each time. With Instagram, all this is a one-time process. You may buy from new stores with just a click of a button without any of the checkout hassles.

In some ways then, Instagram Checkout could do to eCommerce stores what Reddit did to message boards – why sign up on new boards each time you had a question when you could simply ask the same question on the relevant subreddit?

It will be interesting to see how eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce change their models to take on the new eCommerce platform in town. Will this mean an end to a subscription model? Will that mean a fundamental shift in the way customers buy?