In this article, I will do my best to put to paper my thought process when I search for the ideal hashtags for our clients. The most important aspect of hashtag research is to understand that every post is different and needs its very own set of hashtags.
With that in mind, I'll break down my process in a few simple steps:
Step 1: Understand your account's niche
This seems obvious but isn't always easy. You need to have a crystal clear understanding of the type of people who might be interested in your account. Don't worry, this can easily be done by making a broad search on Flick.
Simply type the broadest topic your niche covers into the search bar. Flick will output a bunch of relevant hashtags/topics that your audience is interested in.
Pro tip: I usually use a limit of 30 so I can quickly find a few different area of interests my audience has
Here I've taken the example of "Landscape photography". As an initial search I inputed "landscapephotography". From this search I was able to isolate different types of landscape photography that people might be interested in.
I'll concede that my example is pretty straightforward and obvious but for a lot of you reading this, Flick will output sub-topics you never even thought of.
Step 2: Look at your accounts statistics
Now that you have a general idea of the broad topics your audience engages on, take a look at your own account and calculate your average likes (over the last 12 posts is usually accurate enough).
If you use Instagram often - if you are reading this you probably do, then you would have noticed that certain hashtags are more competitive than others. Hence, depending on your account size and engagement you should be using different hashtags. This will become very relevant in step 4.
To continue with my example assume the account I am doing research for has 12k followers and 600 average likes on their posts.
Step 3: Find your next post's target audience
This is where "step 1" will come in handy. If you are doing Instagram right, your posts should always be relevant to your target audience or at least to a sub-section of it.
Look at the research you made in Step 1 and pick out the sub-topics you found that your post fits into.
For my example, I will use the picture above. As you can see it fits more into the mountain landscape and nature sub-niches.
Step 4: Unleash Flick's power
This is when everything comes together, you know your audience, you know your account's stats and you know the sub-topics your next posts fall into. At this point you are just 3 steps away from your next post:
1. Go into Flick and enter your sub-topics into the search - don't use filters yet.
Here I've searched for:
2. Expand on the outputted hashtags using the staircase method. If you don't know how to expand a hashtags click here.
I've chosen the average likes filter to be between 66% and 200% of the average likes the example account gets.
After expanding I get to this, as you can see Flick ended up coming up with "moutainlake" as a suggestion, pretty accurate right?
3. After having expanded all of the hashtags, go through them and pick the ones you likes the most and feel are the best suited for your posts (all the outputted hashtags should be very relevant to your post anyway)
These are some of the hashtags I've picked out from the bunch above. They are all ultra relevant to the audience, the post and the average engagement on the example account.
#mountainlake #lovehiking #hikingtrails #intothewild #mountainculture #climbingmountains #mountainlovers #landscapeslovers #outdoorbloggers #adventureinspired #winterlandscape #snowlandscape #beautifulwinter #tourtheplanet #mountainadventures #instahike #mountainpeak #topofthemountain #lakephotography #alpinism #natgeoadventures #puremountain #mountainlandscape
VOILA! You've found the best hashtags for your post and you are guaranteed to reach your target audience.
Pro tip: Instagram's algorithm can take a few posts of you using the right hashtags to undo the "bad classification" that you had before switching to this method.