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How to use hashtags with Instagram stories

Date: 4 November 2019

Instagram stories are very popular for both business and personal use. They are a great way to show what’s happening right now. Hashtags are key elements of Instagram posts, but how do hashtags work with Instagram stories? Find out below…

What are Instagram stories?

  • Posts that are only available for 24 hours (then they disappear from view)
  • They are ‘in the moment’, the here and now of business activities (at an exhibition for example) or showing behind-the-scenes team insights
  • Stories can be created using a number of different formats – images, video, boomerangs (mini video clip that plays backwards and forwards), or superzooms. (A superzoom is where you press and hold down the shutter button and Instagram will automatically zoom in on your subject with your chosen dramatic sound effects!)
  • You can then add stickers, emojis and gifs, plus locations, tags (@mentions) and #hashtags (see more about locations at the end of this blog)

Which hashtags should you use on stories?

When you add a hashtag to a story, think BIG, go BROAD. Try and use widely-used hashtags, rather than less popular/niche hashtags or, in particular, your own branded hashtag. (Of course, an event hashtag is absolutely fine!) Try to aim for singular words compared to having 4 or 5 words per hashtag.

Two ways to add a hashtag to your Instagram story

There are two ways to add a hashtag to a story – either using a sticker or typing in text. Both work, but there are differences in the number of hashtags you can use, as well as colour and font options.

Sticker hashtags

This is what a sticker hashtag looks like:

You can only use one sticker hashtag per story. After you have created the image/video for your story:

  • Choose the sticker icon from across the top of the screen (square smiley face icon)
  • Then tap on the #HASHTAG sticker and type in your hashtag and click done
  • You can then make your sticker bigger or smaller and drag it to your preferred position on the screen
  • Finally you can also tap the hashtag to change colour – but you’re limited to only 3 different colours – a rainbow, grey and white or blend of pinks, red and orange (like the one above).

Text hashtags

This is what a text hashtag looks like:

When you add a text hashtag make sure it is underlined, if it’s not underlined it will not link anywhere. A text hashtag allows you to choose from a far greater range of colours, plus you can change the font too.

Compared to a sticker hashtag, you can add as many text hashtags as you like. Instagram will allow you to add 5,6 or even 7, but the top 3 will only be clickable, even though they will all be underlined. So if you’re going to add text hashtags only add 3.

Keep hashtags readable and don’t cheat!

You need to make sure your hashtags can be read and be seen. So don’t make hashtags tiny or difficult to see (or hide popular, unrelated hashtags) within your image or video (eg by making them the same colour as the background). Instagram will actually punish you for this! Your post will not be shown to an extended audience.

Yes, your story will be visible to your followers, but it won’t have the potential to reach a wider audience (which is the main aim for using hashtags!).

Things to bear in mind…

Have a realistic expectation when it comes to your stories. Remember:

  • If you have lots of stories (lots of white dots), many people will not go through this, plus Instagram will not show your content to a wider audience.
  • The reach of your stories using hashtags will depend on people’s individual interests

If your Instagram is performing well with your audience and you’re receiving good engagement, there is a high chance that your story will also be shown to additional people that are similar to your followers. A great way to gain further visibility.

Top Tip – Location Sticker

If you’re wanting to get your story found by a bigger audience use the location sticker.

When you use the location sticker, always aim to use a smaller/very specific location, rather than a broader one to gain more visibility.

For example, if you’re attending an exhibition in a big city, don’t just tag that city as a whole, instead tag the venue or ‘district’/’local area’. This will mean that Instagram may show your story to people within additional areas that are close by.

If you’re sitting there thinking ‘maybe I should start using Instagram for business’? Or ‘I need a bit of help with my Instagram profile’ – we can help in just an hour of training! Please contact us or email if you’d like to arrange a session. Please ask if you have any questions related to Instagram for Business – we’d love to help you!

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    1. Your tips on Instagram hashtag strategy have been very very insightful. I just launched an Instagram business page and would need these great ideas to engage with the audience.

      • Hello Priya, we’re glad you found it useful. Many thanks the Pearce Marketing team.

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