OK, I'll admit it, I was a longer convert to Instagram, perhaps it is my age, but I get it, I understand it's value for business, life, the universe and everything, but what I don't get it hashtag stuffing!
#OMG #whatisthepoint #olderchick #enoughisenough #whydotheydoit #toocoolforschool
So first some basics, what is a hashtag?
Originally a hashtag meant using the # symbol to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. This meant that you could follow trending topics or other people could follow your conversation via the hashtag link without previously being connected to you.
It is a great way to be part of a conversation.
I myself had my 5 minutes of fame this week via the #qanda hashtag ( unfortunately not one of my more profound tweets!)
This simple but highly effective tool is now used in all other social media platforrms, for exactly the same reason. However somewhere along the way this great tool for indexing and organising and finding information has been hijacked to reduce their value by jamming posts with huge streams of hashtags that are meaningless at best or offputting for viewers at worst.
Instagram is the key offender, but facebook also comes in for a beating and this looks much worse and is less likely to be accepted by your audience who are not use to the jarring display of to them non-sensical streams of words.
Yes you need to understand your audience.
So if you are looking to engage with the 13-16 y/o female demographic or the yummy mummy market you can get away with more hashtags in your feed, as long as you understand what you are doing.
An Instagram account I follow that uses hashtags really well (in fact they are a great example of excellent Instagram use) is TYPO.
Typo uses Instagram and hashtags really well. They are fun, but focussed on their product, so they have relevant hashtags, but not too many of them. They normally tend to have around 4 or 5, but all related to what they are talking about in a language that is a nice fit with their target demographic.
Below is a good example of what NOT to do.
Tek Tek yarn is a typical example of bad use of Instagram and excessive use of hashtags.
Your guess is as good as mine as to what this business is looking to achieve. Our resident Yarn-a-holic on the team unfollowed this business without buying anything from them due to the annoying way they tried to communicate with her.
On a sidenote, Tek Tek Yarn does have a great facebook page, so perhaps they like all of us is on a steep hashtag learning curve.
Just stuffing your Instagram feed ( or Facebook, Twitter or Google+ feeds) with excessive hashtags with no plan or strategy in mind is bound to fail. Everything that you share on social media should resonate with your audience. Yes you can tap into trending hashtags, but you should pick and choose what and how you do this.
Watch this video as Jimmie Fallon and Justin Timberlake absolutely nail the ridiculousness of hashtag stuffing.
Some how tos
- Be specific - don't just fill your feed with random hashtags that you see everyone else doing. If you don't really 'get' what they mean your audience has NO CHANCE
- Focus on your topic. Always have a lead in to your hashtags, for business you need to ensure you have a story around your image, and just dumping a stream of hashtags is not really going to adequately explain your story
- Limit your tags - each market will be different, so I am not going to be too prescriptive here, but suffice to say, if you have about 20 hashtags, you are clearly being excessive. I would think that 10 is pushing the envelope
- Avoid having more than 3 or 4 words in each hashtag, long sentences are also very hard to follow and can detract for other more successful hashtags in your stream
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