August 15, 2016

After our August Tuesdays Together meeting as a part of the Rising Tide Society covering social media, it became clear that a lot of our local photographers are just really digging into using Instagram.  I do not consider myself a pro at all, but I have been using it more and more over the last year, and have found it to be a huge marketing tool for by business- and also an app that I LOVE using!  With over 500 million monthly users, Instagram is certainly the fastest growing social media platform, and is being used like google by many of the younger generation- I will explain how below!  And with their new addition of Instagram Stories (which I don’t mind because I never used snapchat but I understand why people are bothered with it!), there is even more potential for speaking to your tribe!  So I am going to do a little mini-series as a part of my Ask Anything posts to go through some of the topics we discussed and more! If you are newer to Instagram, I hope this can really help you use it to it’s full potential!  I post weekly business tips there as well, so hop on over and follow me @jillgumphotography on Instagram if we aren’t friends there yet!

Today I am going to focus on hashtags and their importance on instagram.  Hashtags are a little silly (though I find them hugely entertaining), and I think get a bad rap in some circles, but are so incredibly useful for your business!  This is how instagram is becoming the new google in some ways- people are actually searching instagram hashtags like a search engine to find things now! So a Springfield mom might search “#Springfieldfamilyphotographer” to find someone to photograph their family instead of going to google.  I have been found this way before through instagram, and many others I know have as well!

When you are using hashtags, you want to use 3 different types (if not more):

1). Hashtags that pertain to the picture you posted! These are the ones that usually make me laugh….#momlife on a picture of markers on the walls from your two year old, or #butcoffeefirst for for the picture of the enormous toddler mess I have to clean up (am I in mom world or what!?). These are usually more applicable on personal posts.

2). Hashtags that link what you posted to what you do. Say I post a picture of a bride from a recent wedding and tell a story about her.  I would use the hashtag #jillgumbrides then to connect her to my other posts that are similar – so a potential client could click on that hashtag, and see many other posts and pictures of Jill Gum Brides! I use these in many varieties to link to other “stories” that I am telling over and over again on facebook.  They essentially create a “filter” option on my wall to find just Michael and I posts (#ForeverGum), just wedding posts (#jillgumweddings), just behind the scenes posts (#gumsbehindthescenes), etc!

3). Hashtags that link you to common searches. I mentioned this above, but these are also linked to what you do but in a much broader sense. You want to think about what you would search on google to find someone who does what you do- and hashtag it! The last type of hashtag I mentioned are typically going to only be  your images. These connect you to a much broader audience, all linked to what you do and how someone can find you for it.

4). Hashtags that link you to broader ideas.  These are the hashtags that are the most useful in connecting to other Instagram users, and also that are the hardest to find to represent you.  At our recent Tuesdays Together meeting, we decided to start using #217creatives in this way- to link us all together to a bigger idea, a bigger picture.  I also use #calledtobecreative and many others to link to me to other creatives all over the world using those hashtags as well.  To find these, you can search phrases that make sense to you for what you are posting, or pay attention to what others who do what you do are using for hashtags, and check them out to see if they fit you. I would never try to get in on someone’s personal hashtag though (those listed in number 2) even if they apply to me because that just seems weird (for example, I have a friend on Instagram who uses #businessowningmama and obviously that applies to me- but she has formed that as a part of her brand and what she does- so I wouldn’t jump in on that!)- but to each their own!

So each picture I post, I try to post a few hashtags that fit under each of those categories: About the picture, connecting to what I do, connecting to the broader search, and connecting to the bigger picture.  If you are just starting, pick 1 or 2 to begin with and use them each time.  Research some other instagrammers who hashtag a lot and see what they are tagging, and how you can modify it (not copy!!) for your business and brand.  I  hope these tips are helpful for those of you just getting into hashtags! Next week, I will be sharing how to hide some of them in your post so that you can use a lot of them, but also not feel just crazy listing tons of them!

For more free education for small business owners and photographers, click here!

To learn how to use keyboard shortcuts for your hashtags so you don’t have to type them every time, click here!

Instagram for Photographers Part One Ask Anything Template


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  1. Misty

    August 15th, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Love hashtagging!!! And it’s so helpful when you know how to do it right! 🙂

  2. Ashley Durham

    August 16th, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Great tips!! Hashtagging has really helped our engagement + followers grow!

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