Please note: This version 1.0 post was my quick attempt at documenting the process that’s worked for me and my past businesses. I wanted to get it up quickly since I’d been asked about this a few times over the past few weeks. Going live with the post now as is but will have this updated with pics, screenshots and more details before long. –Blake
The Setup (1 hour)
If you’re short on time, this is the basic process:
- Define your target followers
- Find relevant hashtags
- Choose the top 10 hashtags
- Engage daily for 20 minutes
STEP ONE: Define Your Goal (1 minute)
Ok, the first step is to find relevant hashtags.
But first you’ll need to become clear on what “relevant” means to you. Zoom out and consider:
What’s your goal with Instagram in the first place?
If your answer is “more followers” I’d say you need to dig deeper. Here’s a question you can ask that might help you come up with a better answer:
What benefit will having more followers give you?
In other words, if you hit your follower goal of [insert target number here] what’s the imagined benefit it will give you? Deep down, there’s a reason you want to boost engagement.
Find out what that reason is. It will be helpful for the next steps.
STEP TWO: Define Your Target Follower (4 minutes)
The next step is to take your goal and use that to help you get a clearer idea of who you’re looking to connect with.
Here are a few examples:
|If you’re a(n)…||You are looking to attract more...|
|Restaurant||Potential patrons in [insert city city]|
|Brand||Potential customers who are fans of [insert ]|
Figure out your answer to this question. It’s not easy, is it?
Allow me to take a stab at it.
Maybe you’re trying to connect with people who are into the same things as you, or who are headed in the same direction?
Think about it. Whether you’re using it for dating, friendships, business reasons or a mix of all of the above, you’re really just aiming to network. To attract a community of like-minded people.
- What do you believe in?
- What do you like?
- What are you learning?
- Is there a common theme around your posts?
- What are you looking for?
Your answers to these questions will help you determine which types of hashtags you should be targeting.
You want to find people who are in a similar position you, some who are a few steps ahead, and some who are a few steps behind.
STEP THREE: Find 40 Relevant Hashtags (15 minutes)
Which hashtags would these types of people search for?
Create a list of 10 general hashtags that are related to your goals and target followers. These are likely “short-tail” bigger picture keywords.
Add these to a spreadsheet.
Here’s a spreadsheet I made that you can use. I put the short tail keywords along the top as the column names.
From there, search these hashtags using the following tools find longer tail hashtags that are related:
- Display Purposes. Type in a relevant term and it will display hashtags.
- Keyword Tool.
- Instagram Hashtag Search. Type in a hashtag it will show the number of posts . You can enter hashtags you find through Display Purposes here to check their volume.
Choose a mix of popular, high volume hashtags and lower volume hashtags.
You can check the volume by adding them one by one into the Instagram search bar. Next to each hashtag, you’ll see the number of posts displayed.
Make sure to keep a balance between:
- HIGH VOLUME: > 1,000,000 posts
- MIDDLE-HIGH VOLUME: 1,000,000-9,999,999 posts
- MIDDLE-LOW VOLUME: 50,000-999,999 posts
- LOW VOLUME: 500-49,999 posts
Ex. If you’re targeting “travelling” you might choose to include each of the following:
- #travelling → 58,167,620 posts (high volume)
- #travellingtheworld → 714,743 posts (middle-high volume)
- #travelislife → 128,227 posts (middle-low volume)
- #travelingishappiness → 45,118 posts (low volume)
Record all of the related long tail hashtags in the spreadsheet under each column.
STEP FOUR: Elimination Time (20 minutes)
The next step is to narrow down your focus to only the highest quality hashtags.
To do that, all you have to do is search.
Go one by one through your list of 40 hashtags and actually search in Instagram. Is the content you see relevant to your target audience? Are these the types of posts they’d be searching for or posting? Decide on the 10 you’ll focus on for now.
Add them to a spreadsheet, and keep this spreadsheet updated as you find new ones.
Once that’s done, you’re finished with the setup. Now all it takes is an investment of 20 minutes a day.
Daily Process (20 minutes)
STEP ONE: Comment on Relevant Hashtags (15 minutes)
Every day, search your list of 10 relevant hashtags and spend time commenting. This is essentially what Gary Vee calls his $1.80 Instagram Strategy (and it works)!
When you comment, don’t just leave emojis. This looks like spam.
Add value. Be authentic. Build a connection.
- Tell them what you like about the post
- Answer questions in the comments
- Ask questions
- Add your opinion
- Tag friends or make connections
- Share your experiences
Over time, you can get this down to 15 minutes a day.
STEP TWO: Engage (5 minutes)
Instagram is about community building. If you’re only taking and not reciprocating, eventually your engagement will drop.
For the rest of the 5 minutes, engage with your current network:
- Reply to comments on your posts
- Reply to DMs
- Engage with your favorite posts from your feed
- Give value (stories, comments)
- Reply or react to stories
- Connect people
The Long Run: Snowball Effect
To wrap up, I’ll leave you with a quote from Outliers:
“Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.”Malcolm Gladwell
Over time as you persist, you’ll slowly build an engaged network of like-minded people. They’ll engage with your content as well, and you’ll start to make connections.
Take note of what’s working and which hashtags are most relevant and double down on those. Start connecting people in your growing community.
Things will start to snowball.
What have you found effective for connecting with others on Instagram?
Related: What to Post on Social Media