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Here's how to get more out of your Instagram Stories with the right hashtags.
Take a look around… hashtags are everywhere. Well, not literally sitting on the seat next to you, but you know, on social media, on marketing campaigns, in group chats, in sarcastic conversations… everywhere.
On Instagram, almost every post you see is accompanied by hashtags. But, lately the questions we’re getting most are specific to Instagram Stories. Should you use them on Stories? Do they even work? HOW do they work?
So if you’re curious about hashtags for Instagram Stories and how to put them to work for your business, this is the only FAQ guide you will need. Bookmark it!
Let’s start with the basics. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the # symbol. It’s used across most social media platforms but is especially popular on Twitter and Instagram. For example, #PhotoOfTheDay or #FitnessGoals.
Hashtags on Instagram become hyperlinks meaning, when an Instagram user taps them, Instagram shows you a page of (almost) all content on Instagram using that hashtag.
Okay you get it, Instagrammers love hashtags but what purpose do they serve for brands and Instagram marketers? Let’s find out:
As we mentioned before, Instagram hashtags have their own pages on the platform. Hashtag pages feature the top posts using that tag as well as the most recent content and Instagram Reels.
When you add a hashtag to your content, it appears on the related hashtag pages. If your content generates tons of engagement, it may even show up in the top content for the hashtag and better yet, you may get featured on the explore page.. This exposes your content to new users and makes your brand easily discoverable to potential new followers and customers.
The most popular reason Instagram account holders use hashtags is to add context to their content. Hashtags are a quick way to explain what your content is about. They tell your followers as well as the Instagram algorithm a bit more about your content and clarify who the content is relevant for.
Adding hashtags to your Instagram content is a popular way to try and extend the reach of your content on the platform. Your content shows up on the hashtag page. Plus, people have the option to follow hashtags and have top content directly show up on their feed as well. So if you use a hashtag that a lot of people follow, you may potentially reach new audiences who don’t even follow you… yet!
Note: simply adding tons of hashtags to your content won’t automatically improve its reach. Your content must be valuable and engaging and send the algorithm all the right signals! The algorithm must see that people are liking it, commenting on it, sharing it, and spending time consuming your content.
If the signals look great, your content is more likely to be surfaced alongside the relevant hashtags on the hashtag page as well as other areas on Instagram. Check out this Twitter thread for a more detailed explanation.
You don’t just have to use the hashtags everyone is using. You can also create your own branded hashtags and use them as a branding opportunity. For example, Nike uses its #JustDoIt hashtag to encourage its community to share.
For the launch of Heineken Silver, @heineken used the #HeinekenSilver hashtag across its Instagram content.
Hashtags can also be a great way to build a community around your brand. You can encourage your community to share content using specially created hashtags. They don’t just have to be your brand name.
For example, DIY lifestyle influencer @genevavanderzeil creates inspiring new DIY projects regularly. For each new major project, she comes up with a themed hashtag and encourages her community to use the tag when they recreate her projects. The content tagged with these hashtags then also become inspiration for anyone else attempting her projects in the future.
One example of her hashtags is #Uptiled
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You see hashtags on Insta posts all the time, but something that many of you seem to want to know is whether hashtags work on Instagram Stories?
The short answer is yes. But. There’s a but.
Adding hashtags to your Stories can be helpful for expanding their reach and having them show up on the hashtag pages. But, you should know that not every Story that is tagged will show up on the hashtag search.
Yes, unfortunately, this is true. While almost all posts tagged with a particular hashtag show up on the hashtag page, this isn’t the case for Stories. The algorithm is much more selective about Story hashtags.
As you can imagine, there is a huge volume of Stories published on Instagram daily. For Instagram to consider your Story worthy of featuring on the hashtag page, your Story must be good quality and effective!
What do we mean? Well, you must follow certain Instagram Story best practices:
Obviously, all your Instagram content must be optimized for mobile. Yet, we often notice brands forget about this!
The quality of your content can have a big impact on whether or not your Stories are engaging for your audience. If you’re posting content that isn’t optimized for mobile viewing, your audience will Swipe away.
Create your Stories content so they’re the right size. The dimensions for Instagram Stories are 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels tall (1080 x 1920, or 1080p resolution). Your Instagram Story size should have an aspect ratio of 9:16. The minimum width is 500 pixels, the maximum video length is 15 seconds, and the accepted video file types are MP4, MOV, or GIF.
Size aside, the next most important best practice to keep in mind for all Instagram content but especially Stories in this case—create quality, engaging content.
Make your content interesting, useful and valuable for your audience to keep them engaged. If your Stories are nothing special, they will swipe away without engaging with you. And you know what that means? It sends the algorithm Gods a signal that your content isn’t interesting!
Your Stories don’t have to be slick like the big brands. In fact, the beauty of Insta Stories is that they can feel a bit rawer and off the cuff. However, you must put thought into everything you post.
Think about why it’s interesting for your audience. How can you get them to engage with you through this Story? What can you share that will keep them watching through multiple sets of Stories?
Your Insta Stories come preloaded with a bunch of fun and interactive elements. Make full use of them! It’ss a simple and fun way to engage your audience and get them to interact with your Stories.
Use Polls to get opinions. Ask questions. Invite DMs from your audience. The Insta audience is very familiar with using these features, so the more you use them, the more interaction you’re likely to get over time.
As we discussed earlier, you may like to consider creating a branded hashtag for your business. Use it liberally across all your content, even on Stories. This is especially great if you want to invite community engagement with your content and want them to tag their content too.
Did you know that the hashtags you’re most likely to show up for are often location-based hashtags or location tags on Stories? A location hashtag is more niche (it essentially whittles down your competition to just the people in your area). So it’s a lot more likely your Story content will be displayed, or ‘rank’.
If it’s relevant to your content, consider using location-based hashtags within your Stories content to try and give your content a boost in visibility.
Location isn’t the only hashtag of course. To put your Instagram Story hashtag strategy to work, you should ideally experiment with a variety of different tags.
Some hashtags are too big and popular and even if they’re relevant to your brand, it’s possible you will never show up on the hashtag page for them. However, a smaller, more niche tag may offer you better opportunities. Experiment with different tags to see what works best for you (and what doesn’t.)
Most of us know how to make hashtags look better on Instagram posts. You add a long gap between your caption and the hashtags or some of us even prefer to add them to the first comment. But what about Stories? How can you add multiple hashtags to your Insta Stories without it looking cluttered?
The recommendation from the pros is to hide your hashtags. How? One way is to add your hashtags and then pinch them to make the text as tiny as possible. Move them to the corner of your Story so they’re out of the way. Another way you can hide your hashtags and make everything more aesthetically pleasing is by placing a gif sticker over your hashtags.
Ultimately, the best “best practice” for your Instagram Stories is to create content that sends all the right signals to the Instagram algorithm. If your content is engaging, and continues to interest your audience, the likelihood of your Stories appearing on hashtag pages increases.
So long story short, there are no secret hacks or a foolproof list of hashtags to use for Instagram hashtag Story success. Focus on creating quality content for your Instagram Stories instead of getting too caught up in hashtags.
The easiest way to add hashtags to your Instagram Stories is by using the hashtag sticker. Add your Story content and then type out your hashtag within the hashtag sticker. You can only add one of these per Story.
If you’d like to add more, you can simply add a hashtag using regular text. You can also use the location sticker as an additional type of tag.
Stories can usually include upto 10 hashtags. But, this doesn’t mean you have the licence to go crazy and spam every Story with multiple hashtags. This will do you more harm than good as Insta will view you as spammy.
Our recommendation is to add no more than 3-5 hashtags per story. If you’re only using the hashtag sticker, you’re already limited to only one tag per story. Here’s some more advice, direct from the horse’s mouth i.e. the @creators account:
The best hashtags for your Instagram Stories are relevant hashtags. Tags that are meaningful for your brand, for your content and for your target audience.
Don’t be tempted to go with the popular hashtags alone. Tags like #NoFilter, #InstaGood or #PicOfTheDay are not going to be very helpful for reaching new audiences with your content. Instead it’s better to come up with a strategy that focuses on niche hashtags.
Not sure where to start with the right hashtags? Here are some types of tags to consider for your Stories:
Instagram Stories should be an essential part of your Instagram marketing strategy. They’re an authentic, engaging way to connect with your audience. And often, they require much less effort than creating carousel content or videos for Instagram Reels.
Sked Social can help you streamline the entire process for Stories. From bulk uploading content to automatically posting to Stories even while you’re asleep, it’s the Instagram marketing sidekick of your dreams.