In the past year or so, I have found that I’m spending less and less time on Facebook and have transitioned more time and energy to Instagram. To be honest, I miss the ‘old’ days of Facebook before the algorithms took things over and now I feel that I have diminished control over what I actually see in my feed on Facebook. I mainly go online for inspiration and to share my art with others, and I can do without all the drama that seems to dominate my feed more times than not.
Like many other artists on Instagram, I’ve slowly build my audience of followers – a little blindly at first, thinking that my art was enough to get liked and followed. But soon I discovered that just like in real life, sometimes just my art isn’t enough LOL That’s when I started doing a little bit of research into the power of using hashtags on Instagram.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am NOT an Instagram expert, and I’m not here to guarantee that I’m going to help you get 10,000 followers or 500 likes on each of your posts. My goal of starting The #Hashtag Project is to help support fellow artists and our community of creativity to, in our own little way, make Instagram a place for all of us to support one another and help each other grow our exposure and ideas with others.
Finding #Hashtags That Work
Growing your audience on Instagram does take some time, believe me when I say that it doesn’t happen overnight! I’ve read countless articles on how to build audiences by using effective hashtags, and I know that I’m not the only one LOL That was one of the main reasons for creating The #Hashtag Project – to help fellow artists find what does, and doesn’t work when it comes to using hashtags with your posts.
One main goal of building your audiences through hashtags is to get listed in the Top Posts section at the top of your hashtag’s page. That’s the section at the top of the hashtag page (usually 6 or 9 posts) that features the most “popular” posts for that hashtag determined by the algorithms. Getting your post in this part of the page will help grow your audience through followers and likes simply because that’s what is displayed first when you search for that hashtag. Keep in mind that the algorithm determines what posts appear in the Top Posts section, not necessarily the posts with the most likes or an account with the most followers.
Get Specific With #Hashtags
When starting out on Instagram, I knew that I needed to use hashtags but didn’t realize the importance of them. So I would tag my posts with very general hashtags like #art for example. The only problem with this is that your chances of getting listed in the Top Posts section is almost zero simply because #art has over 300 million posts for this one hashtag! If you use the #art hashtag in your post, and then immediately search the #art hashtag you will have to automatically scroll down in the posts just to find your post because there are that many people using this hashtag to post which means that the likelihood of someone new discovering is your post is very limited.
Here’s a specific example of using targeted hashtags…
- #mixedmedia has over 3 million posts
- #mixedmediaart has 500,000 posts
- #mixedmediaartist has 100,000 posts
- #mixedmediacollage has 33,000 posts
- #mixedmediascrapbooking has 3,500 posts
By using a more targeted hashtag, I can increase my Top Posts exposure and in many cases decrease posting in a hashtag that has a lot of spam and posts that aren’t necessarily about mixed media. In my personal experience, by using hashtags with a lower number of total posts (25,000ish is ideal!), I’ve grown my Instagram audience steadily simply because my chances of being featured as a Top Post have greatly increased! And honestly the other artists using a hashtag like #mixedmediacollage are the people that I want to interact with on Instagram simply because they share the same interests as me, inspire me, and will support me!
Before choosing a new hashtag to use, actually search that hashtag and see what’s being posted there! By doing this, you can actually get a feel as to what is being posted with that hashtag and you can quickly determine if this hashtag will actually support you and what you’re posting. Here’s a specific example of how this works using #inspiration… If you look at the posts, there’s everything from quotes to body builders and everything in between but hardly any art.
By using #artinspiration instead, my posts will be joining other fellow artists meaning that my chances of other artists actually liking my post and possibly following me as a user will be greatly increased!
Targeted hashtags is the main goal of The #Hashtag project – to effectively use hashtags that support the artistic community! By sharing these targeted hashtags with one another, we help each other on Instagram!
Other #Hashtags To Use (not featured in The #Hashtag Project)
The #Hashtag Project list can only be sooooo long and can’t possibly feature every single hashtag that you might want to use for your posts. Take a look at your post and what do you see? Did you take a picture of the Eiffel Tower? Some hashtags you could use would be #eiffeltower, #paris, #france etc. Although these might not be targeted enough, it gives you an idea of what to look for when looking for hashtags to use for a post.
Another example would be if you used a stamp ink from a designer from a particular manufacturer. You could hashtag the type of ink, the designer, and the manufacturer to help increase your exposure because many times the designers and manufacturers will share/re-post GREAT projects that feature their products. AND you can tag the designer and manufacturer as well (@designers_name, @craft_manufacturer).
Why aren’t manufacturers, designers for products and companies featured in The #Hashtag Project? The #Hashtag Project is being created to support artists and their work, and to help build their own profiles and Instagram presence. After conversations with many different artists who work in a variety of different mediums, we all agreed that having a list that excluded these types of hashtags would avoid showing any bias or conflicts of interest towards any particular company, their products or individual. The #Hashtag Project Library would quickly turn into a ‘who’s who’ listing of brands, with names and products overpowering the list of hashtags that potentially reach a wider audience of artists and those who are inspired by the art they create. Outside of the ‘craft’ industry, most working artists do not put a premium on a particular designer, product or manufacturer but instead focus their energy on the totality of their work and the finished piece of art that they have created and The #Hashtag Project supports this ideal.
Hide The #Hashtags
Did you know that you have a limit of 2,200 characters in your description for your post? Just because you have all that room doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to fill it though LOL Sure there’s times that you want to have a long description, but many times I’ve found that a sentence or two does the job perfectly. And remember that you don’t have to tag everyone (@tagsomebody) in your description – that’s why you can tag them separately when creating a post, it just makes reading things so much easier BTW.
There’s a fine line of using LOTS of hashtags and annoying your followers. You want to use every hashtag you can to get more exposure to your post, but lets face it – your post ends up looking junky and kind of spammy. And if you push your posts to Facebook, ALL those hashtags follow you there as well! The image above shows how it’s link crazy when my post appears on Instagram.
To avoid this, I learned a couple of cool tricks to make my posts look a little more prettier… First, notice above that there is my description and then I’ve used three bullet pointed lines to separate out my hashtags below? The main reason for this is so that when my post appears in someone’s feed or in a search, it looks like this:
Notice how much cleaner the description field is? There isn’t all of my hashtags showing, and if a person actually wants to read more of the description and/or see my hashtags, they simply have to click on the “more” button. This is great for pushing your posts to Facebook also because it will (generally) hide most if not all of your hashtags much like Instagram so that the viewer has to click on “see more” to reveal them.
Secondly you can group your hashtags together WITHOUT spaces in between the hashtags. Not only does this save you room, it also condense the hashtags into a smaller area. And yes, each individual hashtag is individually clickable still.
Spread the LOVE
Just like in real life, you receive what you get and the same holds true for Instagram! The more you interact with others, the more they’re going to reciprocate and interact with you and your beautiful posts.
- Like other posts It may seem simple, but simply liking other posts increases the likelihood of someone else liking yours as well.
- If you’re inspired by someone’s post, let them know! At a minimum, like their post. If you REALLY like the post, take a second and leave a short comment. It doesn’t have to be a master thesis on why you like it, a couple of heart emojis or even a simple “Beautiful” goes along way. BTW the more comments a post gets, the Instagram algorithm increases the likelihood of a post moving up to the Top Posts section for that hashtag. In many cases, I’ve found that by leaving comments means that my posts will get more comments, therefore my post can jump up to the Top Posts section and we’re all happy!
- Be thankful If someone leaves a comment on one of your posts, respond in kind – use the heart symbol to like their comment, or better yet leave a short response to them. This shows that you’re engaged and being genuine with your artist community.
Don’t forget your Profile!
You don’t have to leave your life’s history or detailed information in your profile, but a little bit of information is nice for people to be able to connect with you! At a minimum include your name, and if you’re an artist tell us what kind of art you create! And most importantly, have a link to your website/blog so that we can go there to learn more about you and your fabulous artwork. Many times I refer to my website in my post descriptions for followers to find more information and to also drive more traffic to my website!