It’s touching to know that the top Instagram hashtag today is #love. (It could be argued that anyone clicking on that link is looking for love in all the wrong places, but I digress.)  In case you’re new to the game, here is the definition of how hashtags work from Hootsuite: “Hashtags are clickable. Anyone who clicks on an Instagram hashtag or conducts an Instagram hashtag search will see a page showing all the posts tagged with that hashtag.”

In other words, if you click on #MonroeStreetMadison, you’ll see listings from all of our businesses who have added that tag to their posts.  I’m please to say that since we’ve encouraged everyone in our shopping district to use that hashtag, it’s appeared over 5,000 times. Hopefully many of our customers follow that tag in addition to the Monroe Street Madison page. (Tip: be sure to follow the hashtag of your store’s Instagram name so you’ll know whenever anyone mentions your shop.)

You can use up to 30 tags on any one post, and the thought used to be the more the merrier.  Instagram itself used to recommend 8-15, but they recently revised that to a suggested 3-5. Big difference!  The reason is that the more relevant the hashtags, the more likely your post is to be discoverable in the algorithm, especially if you are doing reels. One of our neighboring businesses is adding additional hashtags in the comments under their posts – this has a double advantage, because comments and other engagement increase your post’s chance of being seen.

No matter how many hashtags you use, the most important thing is to make sure they target your audience well. It may seem obvious, but you don’t need to include your store name in your hashtags.  However it is beneficial to include your location (#MadisonWisconsin in addition to #MonroeStreetMadison), your key industry, and any brands that are shown in your post. We usually add a community-focused hashtag such as #ShopLocal.  

You’ll notice the capitalization in these hashtags – this is done to increase accessibility, as screen readers are much more likely to read the hashtag as it is intended if the first letter of each word is capitalized.In its AI matches of potential hashtags, Instagram automatically makes them lower case, so this is a bit more work.

If you have your IG posts set to automatically repost on Facebook, take an extra moment to delete the hashtags that you don’t want to include, and also any reference to “link in bio.”  Facebook hashtags are clickable links, so if you include #FarmersMarket, for example, the link will take your customer to 2.2 million posts about farmers’ markets. On a separate note, you might find it useful to take advantage of the hashtag feature on Facebook to follow those most relevant to your business, and there is more information about this feature here.

I’m not a social media expert, but I found these recent developments interesting. You’ll find many sources you can turn to for more information in this ever-changing field in order to #StayCurrent. 

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder