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Not sure which Hashtags to use? Workshop #6

Do you struggle to find which hashtags you should use and ultimately resort to the easiest ones? Such as #singer? Don’t worry, we’ll help you find the right ones with this workshop, but first we need to explain the importance of why using hashtags such as #singer is actually hindering you, and trust us, it is.

Background (understanding Instagram algorithm)

In order to explain this, we first need to look at social media at a high level. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms you use are businesses, profit-seeking ones too.

What does that mean? It means they want to make money. Duh, right? But how do these platforms make money? The main revenue model for the majority of social media platforms is through running ads.

In order to make money off ads, they need people to see those ads. So these companies ultimately have two options, 1) get more “customers” using their product or 2) keep “customers” on their platform for longer, so that they can show them more ads.

While acquiring customers is every businesses goal, it is often more expensive and time consuming than simply nurturing the ones you already have.

Confused? It’s okay, we’ll explain, and we promise this will relate back to using appropriate hashtags.

You’re a “customer” of whichever social media platform you use, let’s just say Instagram. Every time you’re on Instagram, Instagram makes money off you by showing ads to you, and with it being cheaper and more time efficient to nurture customers over acquiring new ones, Instagram focuses a large proportion of their time and money to learn how to get you to stay on their platform for just a couple extra seconds.

Why just a couple extra seconds? Well… it may seem like a short time, but having you on their platform even that little amount longer allows them to show you one more ad.

So the question you’re probably wondering is, how does Instagram do that? It’s quite simple, they show you content that you want to see. That’s it. That’s all it is.

Sounds simple enough right? And that’s because it is, but where it gets tricky is with hashtags. Instagram automatically analyzes every single post you create.

They keep an abundance of analytical information, such as how many people saw your post, how many of them scrolled by without taking action, how many of them liked your post, shared your post, commented on your post, etc.

This information is then used to know whether people like your post. If many users simply scroll right by it, then Instagram is not going to push it in front of people.

Why not? Because Instagram wants people to stay on their platform for a couple extra seconds, to show one more ad, to make a little more money.

If your post is continually getting scrolled by, and another post in your same niche is getting lots of attention, this tells Instagram that the post getting lots of engagement is more likely to prevent someone from leaving the app right now, than your post.

How hashtags may be hinder you

While it may come down to quality of the post, more often than not it comes down to targeting, (using the wrong hashtags).

Let’s explain. If you use popular hashtags, such as #singer, #singer-songwriter, #musician, #unsignedartist etc, you’re reaching people that may or may not be interested in your posts.

For example, let’s say we’re an a talent scout for a country label and you’re a pop singer. We’re exclusively looking for country artists and so if we are looking for artists in #singer and we see you as a pop singer, we’re scrolling right by.

This information does not tell Instagram why we scrolled by, but simply that we did indeed scroll by, without engaging with your post. If this continues to happen, your post will not be pushed by Instagram to more people, because once again, Instagram simply wants to show posts that have a bigger chance of keeping someone on their platform, for longer.

While that was a fairly extensive background, we felt like it was needed, because we hear way too many musicians say, “hashtags are better than none and so I’ll just use random ones, or generic ones.”

While it sounds fair in theory, it has only been hurting your account.

Now you’re probably dying to know, what can you do and what hashtags should you use, so that your content gets pushed by Instagram to reach more people.

The answer is to use hashtags that are targeted. By this we mean hashtags that the only meaning they could have is something that relates to you and your music.

For example, #singer could relate to tens of genres of music, tens of styles of music, singers from all over the world, and so the chances someone looking in #singer is looking for what you have is very, very slim.

Whereas if you’re a pop singer and you used, #popsinger, you’ve already narrowed your audience dramatically. Everyone that looks in #popsinger is therefore looking to find a pop singer, which you are (at least for this example).

If we’re being completely honest however, #popsinger, while better, is still extremely broad. The more narrow you are, the smaller your reach may be, but the more engagement you will get (as your audience will be more targeted). This will tell Instagram people like your post and so the platform will naturally push it to more people.

Which hashtags should you use

It is tough for us to provide hashtags to use here when we do not know about yourself, but our recommendations include hashtags with:

1) Your city/state/country with what you are - for example if you’re a country artist from Nashville, then #nashvillecountryartist could work.

2) The emotion or “vibe” that you want to give off with your post, or when your post should be seen/viewed - for example if you sing about breakups, then #breakupsongs could work.

3) Sometimes where you live is not the same as where your target market is and therefore you should find hashtags that relate to your target market - for example let’s assume you’re a rapper from India, but your target market is the US, then #usrapper may be a good one, because if your market is the US, it does not really matter where you are based.

Something to note is, when finding these targeted hashtags, you probably will not find any that are outrageously popular (as you are looking for targeted ones), but still try and get a variety in the amount of uses they have.

Hashtags that are more popular (used more) will generally get you more engagement soon after posting, whereas hashtags that are not as popular will generally get you more engagement over time and therefore a combination of both is a recipe for continuous engagement.

Furthermore, as hard as it may be to find targeted hashtags, we also recommend switching them up from post to post, rather than using the same ones all the time.

The reason for this is that Instagram may flag accounts that use the same hashtags as spam, which could result in your posts not reaching as many people as they should (even if you use the best possible hashtags).

Your Turn

Now it is your chance to use this information and find some hashtags. Remember, this is a workshop too. We’re here to help you succeed.

We know that was a lot of information and so if you have questions, definitely contact us for clarification, or to review a list of hashtags you came up with.

Stuck on finding hashtags? We can help with that too. Contact us here.

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