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How to choose relevant and effective hashtags for your Instagram posts

The hashtags you use on your Instagram posts can either attract your perfect audience, the right audience for just that post, or the wrong people altogether. The best way to get the right people to see your Instagram posts, is to conduct hashtag research on a regular basis and use those hashtags on your posts.

Start by searching a few hashtags you are thinking of using and see whether they meet the following criteria:
 - Have over 20,000 posts but not more than 1 million – you’ll refine your target number as you go along depending on your niche
 - Similar content in the images using that hashtag
 - No spam, porn or other negative content using that hashtag

Create a spreadsheet of possible hashtags, and note each one with how many posts they have. Check these for the above checklist as you go, and if they don’t meet the criteria, wipe them off. If you can’t think of many, there’s no harm in looking at what hashtags other accounts use, but make sure they fit the criteria first.

While you go through these hashtags on your phone, you’ll see related hashtags at the top of the screen. Click through these and add any other tags that meet your criteria to your spreadsheet.

Once your spreadsheet is starting to look full, I’d recommend sorting it a little. You may want to create some themes to distinguish between types of hashtags, then sort them all by the number of posts they have. This is where you’ll decide which ones are the best.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on any Instagram post, and if you’re putting them in the first comment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use 30. Create a list of your top 30 hashtags. You may create a few sets, if you do a variety of posts on your profile, but each set should include the same hashtags that represent your account.

Next, create a notes document on your phone with each of these new lists, with a few lines with one dot on each. This just helps to hide them a little more when you have more comments. You’ll simply copy and paste these notes into the comments when you post.

Now, every time you post, use your new and improved list of hashtags, then go through those hashtags, liking and commenting on other posts. Making sure you engage with these accounts, means they will likely be interested in your account too. If they aren’t checking the hashtag, they’ll be notified that you’ve liked or commented on their post at least. I’m not saying you need to follow them, in fact avoid a following strategy altogether. Follow/unfollow strategies aren’t any good in the long run. However, if you truly want to follow them as you’re interested in their content, do so.

You can also check back on the hashtags you use daily and see if you’ve made the top posts section. This isn’t something Instagram notifies you on, so if you’re interested, you’ll need to check these yourself.

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Every few weeks, or more often if you like, see whether the hashtags you’ve chosen are working for you and tweak them as you like. As you use Instagram, find new hashtags and update your mix for posting. It’s a constant work in progress, so you’ll always be improving

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