When it comes to growing your online business, one of the best pieces of advice I have for you is to make your social media work for you. The truth is, there is a lot of competition on social media, and a lot of noise that you have to cut through.
I find that this is especially true on platforms like Instagram, where there is so much competition and the ever changing algorithm can make it difficult to have your content be seen.
One way to help bring as many eyes on your posts as possible? Using hashtags. Instagram has always encouraged hashtags, and by using a combination of popular and personalized hashtags you’ll make your account easier to navigate and your content easier to find.
What are Instagram hashtags?
In short, hashtags are a way to categorize your content and make it more searchable. By using hashtags, even people who don’t follow you can find your posts if they search through any of the hashtags that you use.
Chances are, the majority of people using Instagram aren’t following you (unless you have a billion followers, in which case, write a guest post for us teaching us your secrets?), so by using hashtags you’re extending your reach potential.
In this post we’ll be focusing on personalized social promotion hashtags. If you want to read more about general hashtag strategy to increase exposure, check out this blog post.
But what about the shadowban?
For months, there were plenty of Instagram rumors swirling around, most of them focusing on the fabled shadowban. Basically it was rumored that the shadowban would hide your content from all hashtag pages on Instagram if you used a “banned” hashtag.
That led to people either drastically reducing their hashtag use or ceasing use of hashtags altogether.
Which hashtags are banned?
The banned hashtags are all fairly obvious, things that promote illegal activity, inappropriate content, or content that goes against Instagram’s terms.
If a hashtag is banned, when you search it on the app you won’t see it in the results.
Chances are, if you’re making up a hashtag for your brand it won’t be banned, but if you have any questions, a quick search should clear it up for you.
What are personalized social promotion hashtags?
Social promotion hashtags go beyond the regular hashtags you would normally use to promote your content on Instagram.
When you’re using personalized social promotion hashtags, you create a specific hashtag for you or your brand with the idea that only people posting about you or your brand will be using it.
For example, at Teachable we often use the hashtag #TeachableTravels to highlight the incredible places that members of the Teachable Team travel to. If you peruse that hashtag, you’ll see posts from the Teachable Instagram account and from people on the Teachable Team.
Why create a personalized hashtag?
Hashtags are just another way to categorize your content. By creating a personalized hashtag, your audience can better consume what you post and find the content that is most relevant to them.
This is especially true if you don’t have a very narrow niche. For example, if you’re a lifestyle blogger and you post about healthy eating, sustainable fashion, natural skincare, and travel you may find that different segments of your audience are only interested in a small portion of what you post.
You could divide the four topics you post about on Instagram into four separate hashtags. If someone stumbles upon your profile and wants to see everything you’ve shared about healthy eating, for example, they’d just have to click your healthy eating hashtag and they’d then be taken to a page with everything you’ve shared about healthy eating.
Keep in mind, you can’t just use “#healthyeating” because there will be too much competition. Instead, you’ll need to personalize the hashtag some way. If we wanted to start sharing healthy eating tips on Teachable’s Instagram, we might use the hashtag “#EatingHealthyWithTeachable” or if I wanted to on my personal account I’d use “#MorgansHealthyEats.”
Creating event hashtags
Custom hashtags are also great if you’re going to be hosting an event. You can ask everyone who attends to use the hashtag if they share any pictures of the event on social. This will help you find and engage with any posts that might be of interest to you.
A great way to get people to actually use the hashtag is by incentivizing sharing. Before the event begins, let attendees know that one lucky person who shares a picture using the hashtag will win something (a shout-out, event merchandise, a 1:1 consultation with you, etc.).
Event hashtags are a great way to build buzz, especially if you encourage people to share before the even when there is still time for others to sign up.
Creating a course hashtag
If you have an online course or training, you should also consider creating a hashtag for your students or customers to use. The hashtag can act as a “secret club” of sorts, and you should prioritize liking and commenting on posts using the hashtag.
This is especially great if you’re teaching a course where your students are learning how to create something physical like art or woodworking. You can encourage them to use the hashtag to share their progress.
Another bonus of this strategy is it acts like free advertising. Creating this hashtag and encouraging your students to use it means that their followers will end up seeing content that promotes your online course.
Creating a general hashtag for your business
Even if you don’t have a specific event or product you’re looking to promote with a custom hashtag, having a general tag you use for all of your posts is a good idea. When you use a hashtag, the people who “like” your picture will be shown more pictures using the hashtags you used.
If you’ve got custom hashtags that only you’re using, the chances of your content being shown to the people who want to see it increases.
In our case, we often use the hashtag “#teachable” in addition to our more focused hashtags like “#teachableteam” or “#teachabletravels.”
When to use your personalized hashtags
In short: whenever you post relevant content. When I’m posting on my personal Instagram I hashtag “#morgantimm” (original, I know) every time I post. If I’m traveling I’ll use “#morganmeetsworld.”
The key, though, is if you have a series of specific hashtags for your different areas of focus, only use them on relevant posts. The whole point of using these hashtags is to categorize your content, afterall.
Now, go get started!
But first, don't forget to download our free hashtag cheatsheet!
Let us know in the comments what hashtags you’re creating for your online business so we can follow along!