Hello! Welcome to the first of another regular feature here on My Open Kitchen – every Monday I’m going to post (over on IG) about a hashtag I’m loving using and why. But before we get cracking on today’s tag (which, pardon the pun, is a cracker), I thought maybe it would be useful to just run through what hashtags actually are, how and why to use them. I know some still find the whole concept a bit weird and confusing so hopefully the below might help.
What is a hashtag? Hashtags are a handy tool and increasingly powerful way to get your content seen by new people. They are used on Instagram and Twitter but here we are talking about the former. So basically, they are words (no spaces or characters), with the # symbol in front like this #myopenkitchenworkshops. And they are used to categorise posts on Instagram so people can search and find your content by subject or topic. Once you put the # symbol in front of a word or group of words it becomes clickable, searchable and followable on Instagram. So they are like little ‘Googles’. Kind of.
How do I use them? Instagram ‘lets’ you use up to 30 hashtags per post. But I generally use 10-15 carefully chosen ones, and instead of pasting them in my caption (which I think looks a bit messy), I paste them in a comment below. There are no hard and fast rules about what is better, I just prefer the way this way looks!
How do I find hashtags to follow? The best way is to just sit down with your phone and do some research, find people in your ‘space’ who are using hashtags well and ‘borrow’ those that are appropriate for you and your content.
Why should I use hashtags? There are five main reasons;
- To build your audience. So for example, if you posted the apple tart picture above, you might like to add a few hashtags about baking, pastry, apples, seasonal fruits and even tag someone like Food 52. One of the biggest food websites in the world. These guys use hashtags really well, introducing a new theme every week that people can get involved in and inviting readers to put their hashtag on food posts which could then be re-posted or included in weekly round ups of photos they loved best. Have a read of this article to see more about how they use hashtags. Or if you are a writer, you could perhaps do some research into what other authors/writers are using and ‘appropriate’ as appropriate. For example, the hashtag #booksandbeans is a great one for coffee loving writers. and readers.
- To get someone’s attention, for example if you wanted to pop up on the radar of say, Country Style magazine’s editor, you might start adding the hashtag #countrystyleloves to your posts. The editorial team do check this hashtag regularly for new story ideas and sometimes re-post photos they especially like and think might appeal to their followers. If there is a publication (digital or print) that you would love to be featured in, why not call their offices and ask what hashtags they use and check? Never hurts to ask.
- To follow along with an event or conference. If you are attending an event or conference, check what their hashtag is then add it to your posts and put it into your search bar to see what everyone else is saying and how they are interpreting the event. This is also a great way (especially for introverts who don’t love just walking up to people and introducing themselves ‘cold’) to connect with fellow attendees and stay connected with them afterwards.
- To conduct market research and build a library of ‘social proof’ – by which I mean, if you create a hashtag for your own event or business, you can follow along and see what your customers/peers are saying about what you do and then re-share. So, for example, when I host workshops, I ask everyone to please put the hashtag #myopenkitchenworkshops in their Instagram posts. This way we can all keep track of who is posting what from the workshop. It’s so great seeing the beautiful images that come out on this hashtag and checking back on them weeks after the workshops. I can also then collect everything posted under that hashtag and perhaps put them together in a slideshow instagram post or series of IG stories, tagging everyone. This does two things, those people tagged might re-share and that’s nice for community building, also, it helps to illustrate the kinds of events I hold and the sort of audience they attract. This might be beneficial for someone thinking about booking into a future event but still a bit nervous if it might be the right event/community for them – as Seth Godin says, one of the most powerful mantras of modern marketing is ‘people like us do stuff like this‘ and re-sharing other people’s take on what you do is a GREAT way to make people feel connected.
- Hashtags can also be great prompts when short on ideas eg #caughtflowerhanded.
To find your people. If you are on IG to find a tribe of like minded people, like all of us! Hashtags can help. Maybe you are really into novelty tea cosies, there’s a hashtag and community there for that.
So how do you actually hashtags? Just add the # sign before a word or phrase no spaces or punctuation. I think the easiest way to save and store your hashtags is just to keep lists for different kinds of photos in the Notes app on your phone/computer and then update, copy and paste as needed.
You can either put your hashtags in a separate comment or in the caption itself. I do the latter but ‘push’ them down by using five full stop punctuation marks. So I write my caption and add the hashtags in my ‘notes’ app then copy and paste them into Instagram.
And now for this week’s # shout out….#selfiesforintroverts
I think it’s great to show up in your feed every now and then, but not all of us (especially me) enjoy being smack bang in front of the camera. If that resonates, then so will this hashtag #selfiesforintroverts.
It’s home to lots of examples of thoughtful, fun and gorgeous ‘selfies’ that even the most introverted IG user will be comfortable with. Stick a cabbage in front of your face, hold a bunch of flowers out in front of you, whatever you feel comfortable with. In my (humble!) opinion, I almost think these kinds of ‘selfies’ are more interesting than the obvious ones. Because they also tell a little story, they instantly convey that you are into a certain thing and also, we humans are curious, so there’s also the temptation to stop, read the caption and find out what’s actually going on behind that leaf/flower/whatever.
Below are some examples I found on the #selfiesforintroverts hashtag, click on the pictures to go to the image in IG and read the stories behind them.