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Hashtags: Why They Matter and How to Make Them Work for You

If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you’ve almost certainly seen someone use a “#,” or hashtag, in front of a word or phrase.

The most obvious benefit to using a hashtag is that your content becomes indexable under that word or phrase. For example, let’s say you post something about a new property on your Instagram account and use #realtor in the caption. Once that post has gone live, your content will be included in search results for #realtor, increasing your potential reach almost exponentially.

A screenshot of the results for an Instagram search for #realtor.
This is a screenshot of the Instagram search results for #realtor. Notice how much content populates around this hashtag!

Hashtags aren’t all created equal, though. Some, like #realtor, are broader and more widely used, which means your content is likely to get in front of a massive number of people, but lowers the chance that someone will instantly see your content if they search for your hashtagged word or phrase. On the other hand, if you use something too specific (#realtorsofcentralmaryland or something in that vein), you’ll carve out your niche quickly, but fewer people will search for your hashtagged word or phrase.

There’s a solution to this hashtag madness, though. Read on for our tips on making hashtags an integral part of your organic content strategy.

Step Into Your Audience’s Shoes

The key to a great hashtagging strategy is making sure your content is primed for discovery. That doesn’t mean you should be trying to reach just anyone, though. Take some time to research different communities on Instagram, taking note of what other agents are doing — you want that content discovered by a highly qualified audience.

You should also browse through location tags around your area — what are people around you talking about? How do they use hashtags? Are there any seasonal or region-specific tags that you could repurpose in your own content? These are things like #summer, #OCMD (Ocean City, Maryland), or #sweaterweather that see wide usage across verticals.

Even if your audience makes their frequently used hashtags clear, don’t be afraid to continue this research. You know your audience better than anyone, but missing out on their favorite trends means you’re losing valuable engagement.

The Goldilocks Approach

Technically, Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post. While that may seem great at first (who doesn’t love expanding their reach for free?), adding too many hashtags to a post can come off as “spam-y” to Instagram users, making your audience less likely to engage with your content.

Start with just a few pertinent hashtags, then take a look at how your content is performing. Are you getting the reach and engagement you want? If not, you can either add more pertinent hashtags to your next post, change the hashtags you have, or trim them for brevity.

Keep it Fresh

Once you find a hashtagging strategy that works for you, it’s tempting to just copy and paste hashtags from post to post. This might work for a little while, but over time you’re likely to see a substantial decrease in engagement. Beyond decreased engagement, reusing the same hashtags too many times can even lead to Instagram marking your account as spam.

Hashtags, like any other part of your social media strategy, need to be kept current in order to have the largest possible impact. Every few weeks, take some time to re-do the research process we mentioned earlier. It may be a little bit time consuming, but putting thought into your hashtags can make or break your Instagram presence.

Now that you’ve got some serious hashtagging know-how, it’s time to get posting!

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