By researching and deploying the right hashtags you’ll be able to tap into new markets and audiences with your content. Without them, there’s a hard limit on how many people you can reach algorithmically and in your personal network – no matter how many friends you have. Hashtags also ensure your content is getting put in front of people who actively want to see it. You can find people directly interested in what you’re creating and engage with their content while including the hashtag on your own.
However, it’s not as simple as slapping on “#food” “#foodporn” “#foodvideo” and calling it a day. These are some of the most overused food hashtags and are utterly saturated, with a lot of the content on these pages not even food content, but just opportunistically used by people looking for more likes. As a genuine food creator, how are you supposed to find your footing?
The answer lies in niches. Instead of focussing all your energy and attention on big, million-plus tags, find smaller, more unique tags directly related to the kind of food and content you make. Is it five-minute meals? Pantry dishes? A regional cuisine, catering to an allergy or a vegetarian lifestyle? Maybe it’s super indulgent bakes, or food that’s good for picky eaters. Whatever it is, drill down what makes your cooking and your dishes special, and find tags orientated around that. Simply by searching a few key terms in Instagram you’ll be able to uncover these communities, and identify the tags you need. Make sure to follow some people posting in these spaces too and interact with their content – it’s a two-way street, and networking will help cement your position.
Kate Tynan from @littlebuttonbakery says:
“If you have less then 10k followers, look for hashtags that have between 10-50k uses for maximum chance of being seen by people outside of your audience. Always use the maximum. 30 hashtags. Don’t use the same hashtags time and time again. Make the hashtags relevant to your content. I might put in #weddingcake but that would be way too big to use, but if you work down the list you might see something like #weddingcakeuk or #weddingcakeinspo or #weddingcakeideas that have a much lower usage. I spent quite a lot of time putting together a hashtag planner with 250 hashtags for wedding cakes sorted into usage categories that I use myself”
“I put my brain in client mode- so try to think what they’re going to be searching for and go from there! I always look for hashtags in the sweet spot of under 100k mentions but over 5k so that (a) you don’t get lost in too many mentions, and (b) you know people are actually hunting for it.” @thegoldlette
“I always start by looking at the hashtags that my target audience are using. I follow and research those hashtags and identify similar themes. An app called HishHash is helpful because it suggests similar hashtags and says how many are using them!“
“Community hashtags are a great way to niche down and connect with like-minded users with similar interests. Hashtags indicating your product/service (#travelclub), niche (#femaletravelclub) and then community (#femmetravellers) will improve the searchability of posts whilst gaining engaged followers around the specific subject.”
Amber Leach from @libertypearlphotofilm recommends:
“I use location hashtags and I get lots of bookings through these hashtags.I’m a wedding photographer and I use #devonweddingphotographer #londonweddingphotographer – it can be adapted for many different types of businesses.
Now that social media is being even further indexed by Google and Instagram has indepth alt-text function, it’s worth looking for your keywords on Instagram and Google. Dedicate a couple of hours to doing this kind of hashtag research and build a master list on your phone of big, medium and small tags and use a mix every time you post. If one always bombs and one seems to spike your content, delete the poorly-performing one from your list and find a new one. Constant experimentation and analysis will help you find a bespoke list that works for you and your content.