I’ve mentioned this a dozen times before, but I once worked in the Marketing department of a major non-profit organisation. My job? Planning various PR events and keeping all of the company’s social media fiery and fabulous!

With a background in photography, that meant a lot of Instagram. Designing posts, capturing images, growing followers and inspiring the audience to become directly involved with activities the organisation was hosting.

I got good at it, but my strongpoint? My #hashtag game was on point. I was able to put myself in their target audience’s shoes and find niche tags that linked them to the exact type of people they wanted engaged. And now, I’m going to share some of my rules for building up a following, that is genuinely interested in what you stand for.

Sound good? Read on!

5 Rules To Hashtag Your Way To Instagram Fame

  • Rule #1: Be Specific But Also Mix It Up

    If you’re a lifestyle coach, using the hashtags #lifestyle or #coach is never going to get you discovered by your target audience. It’s far too vague. Your image will get lost amongst millions of sports, fitness or decor images. It’s important to zero in on what you stand for. Try to be as specific as possible, but also mix it up:

#lifestylecoach #coachingbusiness #selfempowerment #selfgrowth #selfhealing #innerbeauty #changeyourmindset #liveinthenow #lifeadvice…

These are strong hashtags, because they’re going to connect you directly with your tribe and not a bunch of fake bots. As I said, variety is key. Don’t get stuck on a running theme: #coach #lifecoach #lifecoaching #goodlifecoach. Instead, consider the image and who you want to reach or what you want to say!

  • Rule #2: Less Is More… So Much More!

    When selecting hashtags to use on Instagram, apply a less is more rule: 1000 hashtags is too little, but 10 million too much. Ideally, choose a hashtag with an image count between 100,000 and 500,000. Nothing over 1 – 2 million (certainly not + 100 million) or you’ll get devoured by a fast moving image stream. New followers can’t follow you if your photo disappears before they have a chance to click on it. You want a popular hashtag, to connect with real people, not something oversaturated with spam, bots or people just there for “numbers.”

  • Rule #3: Desperation Hurts A Reputation

    Don’t be one of those people with 20-30 hashtags at the bottom of their post (anymore than 30 and they’re blocked by Instagram anyway). Overuse of hashtags screams, “I’m desperate for your follow!” and tends to scare people away. Instead, choose 5 really effective hashtags and absolutely no more than 10. Ever.

  • Rule #4: A Little Research Goes A Long Way

    When you search for the tag you’d like to use, Instagram’s algorithms display any related hashtags that are trending. For example, if you search the hashtag #unicorn… #unicornlove, #unicornsarereal, #unicornparty, #unicornlife and #Iloveunicorns are shown beneath. This is a fast and easy way to find inspiration for other hashtags potential customers might be lurking (although, refer to rule #1 about “mixing it up”). Get in there and do your research.

  • Rule #5: Keep A List Of Hashtag Gold 

    Create a folder on your desktop called “hashtag gold”, open a blank word document, create categories (related to your business) and begin to collect any hashtags you love. This will save you a world of time, as you won’t have to look for relevant tags whenever you want to share an image. You’ll be able to copy/paste them directly into your caption as soon as you’re ready to post!