On every post about Instagram tips, you find “use relevant hashtags to reach your ideal customer”. While it sounds like great advice, anyone else totally confused on how to find the best hashtags for your business? #handraisedemoji
And I know you’re not the only one because some of the top hashtag-related searches on Google are asking kind of the wrong questions.
People are searching ‘hashtags for likes on Instagram’ or ‘free Instagram followers’. And unfortunately chasing vanity metrics won’t result in actual money in the bank (which from here on out is what I’ll assume you’re after… not just a bunch of random followers).
When I review other Etsy sellers or online shop’s posts on Instagram, hashtags are one of the biggest missed opportunities for business owners and one of the top mistakes I identified in this post. Not to say there’s really a “bad” way to use them, so let’s say, not being used to their full potential?
I think as business owners we sometimes get too involved, we dig too deep into research and essentially overthink the entire thing which complicates it. Often the hashtags are (likely unintentionally) very focused on the shop + business owner, and not enough on how a customer uses Instagram.
For example, if you were a new expecting mom you’d probably be really into finding ideas for baby products.
Ask yourself seriously, ‘Would I really take the time to search through the entire #etsyseller hashtag feed?’
There are over 7M posts under the tag #etsyseller!
Might one person want all of those things? Sure, but unlikely they’re going to search through all those interests. There’s a TON of product categories in there, and you’re only interested in new mom or infant related items, remember?
The problem here is the hashtag #etsyseller is defining the shop or brand itself, and your potential customer doesn’t identify with that.
Instead, you’d probably hang out in feeds like #newmom #newmomlife, #momoftoddlers, or #motherhoodunplugged looking to connect with other moms, ask questions, and get inspired by others who are going through the same thing or have experienced advice to share.
Check out the #momoftoddlers feed… speaks a little bit more to moms right?
So today we’re going to discuss three easy components to find the best hashtags for your business that will attract your customer on autopilot (and therefore get more likes on Intagram… grow your followers… get more comments, and build your Instagram account in a much more sustainable way than the “quick searches” I mentioned above).
(PSSST. COME JOIN ME ON INSTAGRAM AND DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WORKSHEETS HERE TO USE AS YOU READ THROUGH + FIND THE BEST HASHTAGS FOR YOUR BUSINESS!)
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3 Components to Finding the Best Hashtags for Your Business
Part 1: Descriptions / Components of Image
(20% = 6 hashtags )
If you’re putting together a cohesive Instagram feed, you should have a few themes that run throughout your profile. So take advantage and hashtag those descriptive components of your image, but be specific + niche down to capture what your products/brand are really about in your customers’ mind.
We’re limiting these to just a few as hashtags should not be treated like a running Etsy tag list. If you used all 30 to simply describe your product, you’d be missing out on a ton of exposure!
The best hashtags describe your customers’ lifestyle + interests, not your product attributes.
I like to think of this group of hashtags as covering the broadest customer base and speaking to your product or brand intentions in a clear manner.
These are also the hashtags you’ll change up depending on your image and should closely tie back to what’s actually featured in the photo.
Brainstorm situations or places where your customer would wear or use your product.
For example, if you sold bath products, instead of using #bathbombs (which strictly describes your product), use customer-focused hashtags like #bathbombaddict; and lifestyle hashtags:#pampernight, #spanight, #relaxmode, or #mombreak
This naturally places your brand alongside situations where she wants your product, without having to ‘hard sell’ to her.
Part 2: Customer Centric
(60% = 18 hashtags)
Get deep with your customer. And by deep, I of course mean, GET WEIRD.
Or funny, silly, witty, whatever it would be if she was your bestie and you guys were sharing that image. This is where you want to put the majority of your energy into researching.
What are some hashtags your top followers / engagers use? Are they a #paperaddict / love #whiteonwhite / crazy about hashtagging emojis like I am? (yes, you can actually hashtag emojis #😍)
The key takeaway is that your customer likely (definitely) is not searching for #etsysellers #shophandmade or #grandopening.
Think about if you were looking for woodland themed nursery items for your new babes room, would you search #etsyshop and wade through the millions of posts in hundreds of categories; OR would you search #woodlandnursery and #nurserydecor?
RIGHT. I think we all know the easy answer to that one, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to find your customer by thinking more like her.
So if you see a post promising the “best hashtags for Etsy sellers” or handmade jewelry hashtags… go in cautiously. Do you want to attract other Etsy sellers? If not, you need to do your own research that revolves around your customer.
No worries if you’ve been doing it this way, but flip your perspective today and for at least half of your hashtags, think “what would my customer search?”
In a way, give yourself some freedom to be less strategic – in theory – and be more like your average customer that likes to look at pretty things in pretty little squares. Oh yeah, and then fall in love and spend all her money.
1 | Grab your free worksheets to record hashtag ideas.
2 | Dive into her shoes and creep around posts of competitors + followers that receive good engagement
3 | Spend some time on the questions below to brainstorm a hashtag list that revolves around your customer. Based on each image post, select from your list to ensure the hashtags still relate and make sense to what you’re posting.
Going back to creating your “themes” here, you could easily make a set list that goes with each. So if one of your themes is jewelry stacks, #stacksonstacks, #armcandy, #armparty #jewelry, would be ones you could always apply to those images. No more stressing out about each post!
Questions to consider
- Who is your customer?
- What is she obsessed with?
- How does she use your product?
- What other hobbies does she have that are related to your product?
- How does she spend her day? #sundayfunday #caturday (I know you’re out there!)
- What are her interests?
#homedecorideas #colorfullife #studentproblems #bookworms #wristcandy #makeupaddicts #shoppingaddict #wanderlustlife #falldecor #mommyhood #fitmamas #fitmomsinspire #handletteringpractice #colorhunters #colorcolourlovers (ha, not a mistype)
- What Instagram challenges/popular hashtags would she be part of?
#DScolor #DSpattern #DSlettering #DStexture #thatsdarling #darlingweekend #mybeautifulmess (actually any of her hashtags: #ABMlifeiscolorful #ABMhappylife #ABMathome #ABMtravelbug #ABMlifeissweet #ABMlittlethings #ABMcrafty) #flashesofdelight #teg30daychallenge #photosinbetween #lovelysquares #livethelittlethings #livebeautifully #livecreatively #fromwhereistand #pursuepretty #everysquareastory #bandofun #bandogirlgang #thehappynow #postitfortheaesthetic #psimadethis
Start by typing a keyword into the Instagram “search bar”. From there it will give a potential list of hashtags below. Click through those and check out the type of images shared in each; are they something your customer would be interested in or inspired by? And does your content complement and fit the vibe of that hashtag?
This group of hashtags can stay consistent with each post. Once you do your research and put together a strong list, you can rotate a group of these in every time as they’re the overarching themes your customer is searching for or inspired by.
Part 3: Community / Business Owner Related
(20% = 6 hashtags)
These are the ones I see that are most overused, but don’t worry, I LOVE them and you definitely should still use them! They’re great for connecting to other makers and small business owners that can support and lift you up.
Just be sure they’re not the only ones you’re using as you’ll be missing a huge base of customers that aren’t other small business owners and won’t be looking for these hashtags.
#communityovercompetition #womeninbusiness #risingtidesociety #makersgonnamake #TNChustler #creativebiz #etsyfinds #savvybusinessowner #supporthandmade #handmadeisbetter #craftsposure #mystudiotoday #onmydesk #smallbusinessowner #shopsmall #smallbusiness #girlboss #bosslady #craftsposure #creativityfound #calledtobecreative #thecreativegrid ( <<< that’s ours!)
HUGE, REALLY BIG, TIME SAVING TIP:
Use text replacement to save your favorite hashtags by category so you’ll never forget the best ones to use and always have them handy!
For example, I have #blog saved as a shortcut that expands into ten blog-related hashtags and #etsy saved to expand into etsy & specific retail hashtags. In the above jewelry example, you could save #jewelrystacks as a shortcut for #stacksonstacks #armcandy #armparty #jewelry #jewelrystacks
For your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Keyboards > Text Replacement > Add New!
Then next time you post, just type in your shortcut and your replacement text options will pop up just like a spelling suggestion would, just accept and bam! Time saved + stress-free posting!
You could save a shortcut for each of your “Instagram themes”, one for popular hashtag communities and one for building small business related relationships; then all you need to do for each upload is throw those two shortcuts in and add a couple descriptions for that specific image! Annnnnd DONE.
Two final tips for using Instagram hashtags:
Hashtags go both ways
1. Use creative/business related ones to reach out to potential wholesale accounts, brand partners, or blogger collaborations.
These are hashtags you may or may not use on your own posts, but can also be used to find new partners to work with. Scroll through their feeds and leave likes and complimentary comments on posts you connect with.
2. Use “Outreach” hashtags to connect with customers:
A hashtag you may not use on your own posts, but still relates to a part of your customer profile
Example: you sell natural make up, so your customer may also be interested in clean eating. Using those hashtags on your post wouldn’t be relevant, but you can use them to engage with her.
Hashtags are all about the mix
- Use a mix of categories: product-related, customer interests, lifestyle, and brand feeling. Only 30 #hashtags can be used on a single photo so when creating your shortcuts or brainstorming ideas, keep that in mind!
- Use a mix of sizes: focus on the 400-800k range, choose 5-10 niche under 200k, use 3-5 above 1M. review the count under “most recent” in a hashtag feed and use a range. Bigger is not always better as those feeds move faster and your post will get lost more easily.
- Mix it up: Don’t use the same “hashtag set” with every post. With the latest Instagram shadowban swirling around, Instagram may be marking accounts that use the same hashtags as spammy. So come up with a few sets you can rotate between and always add in a couple highly relevant tags to each post. I also suggest not always using all the way up to 30 tags, as it may appear a little spammy. So if you can’t come up with 30 relevant tags for each post, don’t stress. 23… 25… 28. That all works too.
Grab your free worksheets!
If you want to learn more about how to use hashtags on Instagram or need guidance on the research process:
I wrote an ebook that gives you the exact process I use for my clients: Hashtag Discovery Workbook.
Each business and customer base is unique so while I can’t give you a blanket set of the best hashtags to use, I can walk you through:
- my hashtag research strategy step by step
- how to maximize your exposure by getting into the Top 9 Posts section
- other tips + tricks on making hashtags work for your specific business and grow your followers
Want to take action today? Grab the Hashtag Discovery Workbook – learn more here.
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