For the next installment in my Bookstagram Tips and Tricks series, let's chat about hashtags! Tags are a great way to get your post seen by more people, and a great way to find new accounts to follow! So let's dive right in!
First, let's start with the basics of hashtags, including how many you can have, where I recommend you put them, and some other starting info. Then we'll get into the good stuff.
Instagram allows you to put up to 30 different hashtags on your post. Use them. You obviously don't have to use all 30 on every post, I rarely do, but you can tag more than 1 or 2. I've seen several "influencer"-type bloggers say that the ideal number is 10-15, however, I notice no real difference when I use 15 versus when I use all 30. So I say, add however many hashtags you want and think you need to cover all the relevant aspects of your post.
You can put the hashtags directly into your caption as you're posting it, or you can add into a separate comment if you don't want them, or don't have room for them, in the caption. I do have an opinion on this. I tried both ways for several weeks, and with posts where my hashtags were in the caption did much better in terms of reach.
I say that, but Instagram's algorithm is weird, ever changing, and a pain in the butt. So at the end of the day, put them wherever you want. But my advice is in the caption if you can. If your caption is too long and you run out of room, at least put a few main hashtags in the caption and then put the rest in a comment.
What Hashtags Should I Use?
Okay, I know what you're thinking. Jess, this is great and all, but what on earth should I even tag? Well, slow your roll. I got you. There's a few different types of hashtags I use in each post. So let's walk through those first, and then we'll get in to how to customize them to each post.
I do want to note, that in order to really pick the best hashtags for your personal page and style, it is a lot of trial and error. So, when you pick tags, stick with them for a bit before you change it up. If you change it every day, you won't know if it's really the tags that are causing you to not have the reach you want. Change one thing at a time.
First, I start out with general tags. These are tags pertaining to the day of the week (#MapMonday, or #WomanCrushWednesday), or other general, nonspecific tags. These can also be tags pertaining to you as a person, or your page as a whole. For example, I'm a witch, and my page has a stereotypical witchy vibe, so I always tag things like #WitchesofInstagram or #WitchyVibes.
Once I have my general tags picked out and decided on, I move on to my more specific "bookish" related tags. These make up the bulk of what hashtags I use, because I want other book people to see my posts. These are tags like #Bookish, #BookLover, #BookNerd, and so many others. Find some general bookish tags you vibe with, and start tagging!
Another free tip that I will go into more in a bit, do research on what tags your favorite accounts use. If you find an account that you really vibe with and enjoy, see what hashtags they're using so you can try reaching a similar audience.
Finally, I round out my hashtags with ones that are specific to my post. This can be the type of photo I'm taking (#FlatlayStyle), the title of the book I'm posting (#FromBloodAndAsh), the author (#ScarlettStClair), the genre of the book I'm posting about (#NewAdultFantasy), or just any other topics pertaining to the book (#MythologyRetelling or #VampireFantasy).
Get creative! Your hashtags are meant to reflect what you want people to see about your post. A really good app you can use to help brainstorm ideas is Hashtag Expert. I use just the free version, and it allows you to enter one hashtag you know you want to use, and then it suggests other similar ones. It's super helpful when my brain just doesn't work. Note, this app does have paid features, but I don't use them and honestly don't even know what they are.
Related Post: My 5 Favorite Apps to Use for Bookstagram
One other note, vary the size of your hashtags. When you're going through and deciding which ones to use, don't use all tags that have 1 million+ posts in it, or your posts will never be seen. You want to vary with some bigger ones (500k+), some medium tags (100k - 500k posts), and some smaller ones (less than 100k). This keeps your posts from just getting lost in the shuffle of bigger hashtags and gives you a chance to be seen.
Use your imagination. For example, if you're posting a picture of you reading a book in bed with some blankets, tag things like #CozyBedroom or other similar themes. There's no real rules here, you can tag whatever you want! Just try to vary it up a bit and get creative.
If you need help planning out or keeping track of your hashtags, check out my Bookstagram planner printables in my shop. The daily post planner has a spot for you to list out all the ideas for hashtags to help keep them straight!
Now, let's talk about actually getting engaged with hashtags to boost your own engagement. For now, Instagram seems to promote posts in hashtags of accounts who interact with other posts in that same hashtag. This may change tomorrow, but for now, here's my advice.
Find some hashtags you personally like to see things from, and follow them. Interact with the posts in the hashtag, liking and commenting. This boosts your own visibility when you tag these hashtags, and gets you exposed to more people.
Secondly, when you finish your post and share it, go into a few of the hashtags you actually used on the post, and do the same thing. Like, comment, share a few. Again, this gets your post boosted in the hashtag and gets your post exposed to more eyes. You don't have to go through every single hashtag and like, comment, or share a 100 posts in each. Just pick 3-5 tags from your photo and go like 10-15 photos, comment on a few, and share some you really like. It doesn't need to be time consuming but will make a world of difference.
We all have accounts we drool over and love, or aspire to be like. Go to their pages, and do the same thing on some of their hashtags that they used. Again, visibility is the name of the game with hashtags. That is their purpose, so that's what you should use them for!
Finally, vary up the order of your hashtags. If you post the same general and bookish tags in the same order for every single post, Instagram will likely flag you as a bot (it happened to me). So you can save your hashtags in a note, if that's easier for you, but vary up the order of them each time you post. Maybe one day, start with you post specific tags, then your general ones, then your bookish ones. Change the order for the next post. Variety makes you seem human, and makes the Instagram gods less likely to lock your account for suspicious activity.
Download the lists of hashtags for free! Click below to download.
Is there anything I missed regarding hashtags that you want to know more about?? Leave me a note and I'm sure I can manage a part 2!
Try these tips and let me know how they work out for you!