If you're using Instagram, you should be using hashtags on every post. What are hashtags? The nerdy definition is:
hash-tag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search to it.
As a business, you want to make sure your content gets seen by your target audience. If you're an indie dyer, your target audience is most likely knitters, weavers, knitwear designers, knitting magazines, yarn stores...you get the picture. You want your target audience to discover you. Instagram's a vast place-- hashtags are how you stand out; they're the SEO of Instagram.
There are two types of hashtags: Branded hashtags and community hashtags.
A branded hashtag is a hashtag that's unique to your business. It can be as simple as the name of your business, like the one I use, #pigeonroofstudios. A branded hashtag is a fantastic way to aggregate user related content. Remember how we talked about reposting in the last article? This is how you can find posts that you want to repost on your feed. Branded hashtags are designed to connect themes for you and your audience.
A community hashtag is one that connects users around a specific subject or topic, like #indiedyer, or #indiedyersofinstagram.
So how do you figure out what hashtags to use? First, look at other popular posts to see what hashtags other indie dyers are using.
@uschitita, one of the dyers we looked at in the last article, uses the above hashtags. I'm not in Europe, so I would probably use all English hashtags myself, although someone on Facebook did mention that they use a few foreign language ones, which is something I'm going to play around with to see if it expands my reach. The English ones she uses are:
She came up top when I typed in the hashtag #indiedyer, so that's why I'm looking at what hashtags she used. I would also go look at other posts that came up and investigate what they're using.
For finding even more hashtags, look at the top of the image. It says Related: and then a bunch of other hashtags that might be relevant.
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, and you can post them either in the caption or in the comments.
When posting in the captions, I like to separate my hashtags from my caption, so that there isn't a big distracting hashtag mess that might take attention away from my words. So I'll use a period and the return key to place the hashtags further down. When someone clicks on my post they'll see them, but when scrolling through their feed, they won't.
If you place them in the comments, they get hidden nicely by the following comments; it's only when clicking to view other comments that they show up. It looks nice and clean. You want to make sure, however, that you comment with your hashtags instantly so your post performs well.
You also want to make sure you mix up your hashtags. Posting the same hashtags on every post can actually work against you, making you not show up in hashtag searches. That brings me to another issue that you might see around the internet: "Shadowbanning". Is it real? Not really. People will notice that their posts won't be showing up in hashtag searches of those who aren't following them sometimes. It's confusing, but Facebook has admitted that there is a filtering of the content that appears in the hashtag searches. Hashtag searches are personalized, so not the same for each user. High volume or top-performing posts are more likely to appear in a hashtag search. There can be other factors, too....the Instagram algorithms are not always understandable, but it seems like mixing up the hashtags is definitely something that you want to do.
Jenn's Trends has a fantastic blog post on strategically using hashtags. Basically, first you want to figure out which hashtags are the most relevant for you. Start off with using 4-5 really popular hashtags. When you type in a hashtag in search, it'll show how many posts have that hashtag.
If I type in #knitting, there are over 7 million posts related to that hashtag. So for your super popular hashtags you want to use ones like #knitting, #yarn, etc.
Next, Jenn advises using 5-7 moderately popular hashtags. Ones related to your content, but are a little more targeted. #handdyedyarn and #indiedyer are an example-- they still have a lot of posts, but are in the hundreds of thousands instead of a million.
Then, she suggests using 2-5 niche-specific hashtags. Since speckle dyed yarn IS hot right now, and let's say I'm posting some, #speckledyarnissohotrightnow and #speckledyedyarn are perfect.
Finally, use 1-2 branded hashtags; I would use #pigeonroofstudios.
I like to use all 30 hashtags when possible, so I might also throw in hashtags like #mycreativebiz or #makersgonnamake, hashtags that aren't specifically yarn related but are craft/art related.
You might be asking yourself, "Do I have to type each individual hashtag every time? That seems like a hassle." I suggest putting together several batches of hashtags and saving them in your Notes (at least it's Notes on an iPhone; I don't know what it's called on Android), so then you can just copy and paste. Just remember to not use all the same hashtags on every post.
Finally, just experiment, and see what works for you!