I will be approaching this subject from an interiors instagram account perspective, but these principles can apply to any area of interest.
It’s a funny little symbol the # – an octothorpe is it’s official name but it has become more commonly known as a hash (on a phone, for example “press hash”) or a hashtag. Hashtags were first proposed on Twitter in 2007 and Chris Messina is credited as “the godfather of the hashtag”.
So, why does this symbol make a difference to social media and how can you use them well?
On Instagram a hashtag groups together photographs or videos, almost as you would a photo album. You can click onto that tag and see all the pictures or videos associated with it. It can be a great way to find other accounts, inspiration for new ideas and, of course, when you use the hashtag on your posts then it allows it to be seen in that group also. It is also possible to follow hashtags and they will appear on your feed just like any other account you follow.
How to use hashtags on Instagram
Instagram have imposed a limit of 30 hashtags per post, so it is important to use them well and, you may as well use them all. This means that not only does your post appear on the feed of your followers but potentially appear in 30 other hashtag feeds. This can really help to grow your account.
How do you decide which hashtags to use?
To think of 30 different hashtags off the top of your head could be really hard and you want the hashtags to be relevant and meaningful to your posts, so how can you do it? Read on for four ways to do this, that I have found to be helpful.
- Check out other accounts and what hashtags they use
As an example, we live in a Victorian terraced house in the North of the UK that we are currently renovating and it has lots of period features. This means that a lot of the accounts I enjoy following have similar houses, similar décor and are also renovating.
Going onto the posts of accounts I follow and seeing what # they are using has been really helpful because it just makes sense that I would want my posts to appear in a similar hashtag.
Some examples are: #beautifulhomesinthenorth #periodhomesofinsta and #victorianrenovation. Head over to your favourite accounts for inspiration and see what hashtags they use in their posts and you may able to find some new ones.
- Use a brand’s hashtag when featuring their product
When tagging a brand or small business in your pictures, check and see if they have a hashtag that you can use.
For example, I have bought from H&M Home, Made.com and Rust-Oleum. Each of these brands have a hashtag and you may find that they want to feature your post on either their Instagram feed or their website.
Often more than a tag in a picture is needed and the hashtag is what their team will use to find posts and this can draw you to their attention.
- Use a hashtag app
Hashtag apps (and there are a number of them out there!) can be really useful when you want new ideas and want to mix up your hashtags. If you search for “hashtags for Instagram” then a number of app suggestions will come up. One that I have used in the past is called HishHash.
They enable you to search for hashtags, save them into groups and mix them up too before then pasting them into your drafted Instagram post.
- Follow @sophiecsophiedo and take note of her monthly hashtag roundup
This is an interiors hashtag summary, and is a great reference for each new month. Sophie works hard on preparing a monthly round up of current hashtags for the following month.
Sophie prepares a summary of which hosts to follow, if there are any themes and whether there are any prize givers to follow too.
I have used 30 hashtags and I have followed all the hosts – now what?
Using the right hashtags can help your account to grow; but how does this happen?
The key is “engagement”.
Essentially this is liking and commenting on other posts – ones of accounts that you already follow, but also by going into some of the hashtags you have used in your post and seeing what other posts appear. Scroll through and have a look!
If you like the colour of their sofa then tell them, if you want to know where the wallpaper was from (and they’ve not already tagged it!) then ask nicely, if they’ve mentioned in their caption that they’re starting a new job then wish them well. This way you will find new accounts to follow and the likelihood is that, if you’re using the same hashtags, they will follow you too.
Hashtag + “engagement” = growth
In addition to this I would say that it is a good idea to keep a list of your favourite hashtags somewhere. I keep mine in my notes app and then I can copy and paste onto my post and switch them around.
If you have an iPhone then there is also a way to save your hashtags under a text replacement. This means that you could programme it to enter your hashtags for a picture of your bathroom as soon as you type “bathroom”. Head to Settings > General > Keyboard and see what you think.
It is also good to use hashtags that vary in the amount of posts – some have millions whereas some have less than 10,000. This increases the chance of you being seen as the more posts a hashtag has, the easier it is for a post to be ‘lost’.
Think about what hashtags others may use to search for new ideas, and then you should have some ideas of what your followers may be searching for too. Before I started the panelling in our bedroom, I searched #wallpanelling and #wallpanellingideas so I often try and use these hashtags when posting a picture of the panelled bedroom.
After following all of this you may start to wonder, ‘could I host my own hashtag’?
How to host your own hashtag
The first interiors hashtag in the UK was #myhomevibe and was hosted by @_lisa_dawson @deecampling and @around_houses. Since then there are many other hashtags that have been created and hosted, so are there too many and is it worth hosting your own?
Absolutely not and absolutely yes!!
What are some things to consider before starting yours?
- What are your interests?
As I said earlier, we are currently renovating a Victorian terraced house in the north of the UK that contains lots of period features. My interests mainly fall under DIY, renovation, period homes and interiors.
I created #styleitreal to try and combine inspiration and renovation so that renovation accounts could share their projects and other accounts could share posts that would inspire.
The hashtag #periodhomesofinsta was created by Jo of @life_with_holly and I was excited to be asked to help co-host along with @_thegreyhouse and @love_this_old_house as there is nothing I like better than a minton tile discovered under a carpet or original stained glass windows that flood light and pattern into a room.
- What does your account represent?
Once you have established what your interests are, think about what your account represents. As much as I love and appreciate other interior styles, it wouldn’t make sense for me to create a hashtag centred around living in the south of the UK or a scandi style of interiors, when I don’t live in that area or show that style in my home.
- What name do you use for your hashtag?
Only you can decide what name would be best but here are a few tips that helped me:
- Keep the name memorable – there are so many out there so keep it pithy.
- Keep it relevant to your interest – it needs to be easily recognised and not ambiguous.
- Check whether the hashtag exists already – you can do this by searching the hashtag on Instagram. It is possible that I may have been used already but if its only a small amount of times then you should be ok!
- How will the hashtag be run?
Once you have decided on a brilliant name for your new hashtag, you need to decide how it will work. Will you be hosting alone? Will you do shares on your stories? Will it have a separate page and will there be re-shares on there? Will there be a prize giver? There are lots of options available and there are no right or wrong ways to do it.
You need to make sure that it is run in a way that you are comfortable with and realistic.
It is exciting to start a new hashtag, so spread the word so others can start using it too and, if its an interiors hashtag, let @sophiecsophiedo know so that she can add it to her list!
I hope that this has been helpful and that if you are thinking about starting a hashtag of your own, that it can help motivate you to do this. A lot of this information has come from my personal experience, so I am sure there will be other ways but I have tried to cover them all.
If you have enjoyed reading this then please comment below or share so others can read it too – thank you!