Hello readers and writers! You are reading chapter five of my upcoming e-book, Finding Your Future Fans. Please enjoy these tips for the writer hoping to master Instagram to find readers and sell some books.
Hashtags are tricky—even if you know what they are and what they do. To bring everyone up to speed, a hashtag allows for your content to be searchable. Similar to alt tags for images on a webpage, your hashtag should describe what’s in the photo or caption in order for social media users to find your content.
Hashtags basically help folks find your work even if they aren’t following you. This can be helpful if you’re trying to get your work out there without paid ads, right? Now that folks can follow hashtags like an account, this could help you get in front of more people.
However, hashtags are not that easy; if you search for which hashtags to use or to ditch, the lists could change on a monthly basis. How can you possibly win? Here, you’ll learn the basic principles of how to use hashtags and how to keep up with the trends and updates.
Determine Too-Popular, Not Popular, and “Just Right” Hashtags
If you’ve put a hashtag on your photo, you’ll know that as you type, it’ll show the hashtags people have already used and how many times. Finding popular hashtags are tricky because if you use one that has been over-used, it becomes too saturated; your post essentially gets lost. On the other hand, if you use something hyper-specific, hardly anyone will think to use that hashtag to find you.
Thus, I would recommend using a mix of hashtags based on popularity: rare, common, and popular. You can look at the numbers tied to the hashtag to know what I mean: less than 1k is rare, 1k to 1 million is common, and anything in the millions is too popular.
An example of a rare hashtag is #witandtravesty. It’s a hashtag I created for my website. The more I use it, the more it’ll eventually grow. Just about every company I like has their own hashtag so their fans can post about their product or service.
An example of a common hashtag is #writergirl. It’s unique, it’s specific, but it’s still trending with 50k+ posts.
Finally, a highly saturated or popular hashtag would be #writingcommunity with over 4 million posts as I write this chapter.
I use a
Research Which Hashtags Will Propel Your Reach
Top hashtags for someone else will likely not help you. For example, most of the top hashtags work mainly for photographers. So, to speak to the book community, you need to use top hashtags that appeal to readers.
The easiest way to do hashtag research is by Googling the top hashtags based on the current month or year. Yeah, you really have to be that specific. Again, you might see some of those generic hashtags. You can define your search by typing in certain keywords like “book” or “writer.”
You can also use online tools to help you discover new hashtags. I recently discovered Keyword Tool (link in the resources section). You can type in a word like “book” and it’ll populate a list of real hashtags with that word in it, plus how many people use it. The free version, like many sites, are limited, but it could help you start using better hashtags.
Finally, do some digging on Instagram. If you’re worried about taking a lot of time, set a timer for just 20 minutes and scroll through your feed. Find images that you like or you think your followers would like. Then, look at the caption or the first comment and look at the hashtags. What are folks using in your community? If it’s working for them, it could work for you.
Keep a Master List of Hashtags
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to keep all your hashtags in a reliable place. I like to divide mine by post type. I use certain hashtags like #bookblogger and #witandtravesty for posts about my website or blog posts, whereas I have some like #writingcommunity when I’m posting about books or authors. I also have a few hashtags like #destinyseekerbook or #igreads that accompany pictures of my book.
If you divide your hashtags by the main types of post you plan on sharing, this will make it super easy to include hashtags to your post. You’ve done most of the guesswork and now you just need to copy and paste your list of hashtags. You can create a note on your phone or a Google doc like I do.
Here’s a quick peek at some hashtags I use regularly that I keep on my master list:
#amwriting #authorlife #indieauthors #instawriter #lifeofawriter #nanowrimo #womenwhowrite #womenwriters #writer #writerlife #writers #writerscommunity #writerscorner #writerslife #writersofbookstagram #writersofig #writersofinsta #writersofinstagram #writing #writingcommunity #writingtips
Notice the three separate hashtags #writersofig #writersofinsta #writersofinstagram. This hashtag splintering likely resulted from #writersofinstagram being too saturated. Don’t be afraid to use all three even if it looks a bit annoying. I doubt your followers will judge you for that.
Decide How Many to Use
In 2019, you’re allowed to use up to thirty hashtags. That’s a LOT. So when you’re creating a hashtag strategy, you can decide to put in however many you think you will need. I almost never use all thirty hashtags—mainly because I can only think of so many relevant hashtags for my posts. If I’m sharing a selfie or something not book-sale related, I probably put around ten hashtags on my post. I up the amount if I want more people to see what I’m posting.
Some major companies will actually test out the
This 30-hashtag cap could change in the future based on Instagram trends, so check online before dumping all your hashtags. Instagram does have a feature where it stops you from posting if you share too many hashtags.
Does it Matter Where They Go?
As of right now, it doesn’t really matter where the hashtags go. That’s great! Most folks either put the hashtags in the caption (e.g. “I’m participating in #NaNoWriMo2019 this year!), at the end of the caption in its own paragraph, or in the first comment. As far as I know, it’s a matter of preference based on which style looks the best to you. If you’re unsure, just look it up at least once a year to see if anything changes.
- Use a mix of hashtags based on popularity.
- Research industry-specific hashtags to reach your audience.
- Keep a list of your go-to hashtags on your phone or computer.
- Determine how many hashtags you actually need to be seen.
- How do I use hashtags on Instagram? via Instagram
- The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2019 via Hubspot
- Keyword Tool to find top hashtags
- The 2019 Instagram Hashtag Guide—How to Use Them and Get Results via Hootsuite
- Instagram Hashtags: The Ultimate Guide (2019 Update) via Later
- The Definitive Guide To Instagram Hashtags
Read the Other Chapters
- Chapter One: Understand Your Target Audience
- Chapter Two: Be Authentic & Unique
- Chapter Three: Shed Some Light on the Subject
- Chapter Four: Be Present in Your Content
There you go! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please give me your suggestions of what you’d like to see in future chapters. Or, tell me what I missed in this chapter; did you have more questions? Contact me or comment below. Thanks, friends!