Love them or hate them, Instagram hashtags are a form of free marketing that portrait photographers can’t afford to ignore.
Every hashtag you use on an image has the potential to show your work to targeted audiences, build connections, and generate business.
However, if not used properly hashtags can cause your work to disappear without a trace in a torrent of images created by other Instagram users.
With that in mind we’re going to delve into what Instagram hashtags are, how to use them and look at some of the portrait photography hashtags you should be focusing on.
What are Instagram hashtags and how do they work?
Instagram hashtags are a feature Instagram uses to make specific keywords searchable on the app.
By pairing a keyword with a hashtag and using it on an image, you make that image available for searches using your hashtag and keyword combination.
So, while hashtags may help to define and tag images, their primary purpose is to make your work visible in searches by other Instagram users.
How to use Instagram hashtags
The devil is in the details when it comes to Instagram hashtags.
Use them the wrong way and the main things you’ll achieve will be annoying your followers and building your thumb muscles while you type out long lists of hashtags.
Use them correctly and you can expand the reach for any image you publish on Instagram, get picked up by portrait photography influencer pages, and secure coveted ‘top posts’ positions on search results for your chosen hashtags.
Choosing a hashtag
Many Instagram photographers assume that quantity is the key to succeeding with Instagram hashtags.
As a result, they tend to target Instagram hashtags that are very popular, thinking this will give them greater exposure.
The reverse is true. Post to a hashtag with over a million posts and your post will be visible for a few seconds under ‘Recent posts’ before it is buried by a flood of new posts using the same hashtag.
The key to choosing an Instagram hashtag is instead to focus on hashtags which:
- Are specific to the image you are posting.
- Have a small enough post count to give you a chance of securing a ‘Top posts’ listing for your image.
The good news is that using more targeted hashtags will automatically ensure that the post count for the hashtag is lower, improving your odds of being noticed.
Furthermore, using highly targeted hashtags means your images are going to be more relevant to the searches they appear in, which increases the odds of relevant users engaging with them.
Top vs recent posts
A search for a hashtag on Instagram will pull up two views for the search, ‘Top posts’ and ‘Recent posts’.
Top posts are where you want to be. This is because it is the default view that a hashtag search opens onto, and because a limited number of images appear in this feature.
Securing a top posts position is determined by:
- How competitive the hashtag is.
- The number of likes your post has.
If you’re using a highly competitive hashtag, you’re going to need many post likes to secure a top posts position. However, fewer likes are required to secure a spot for a niche hashtag.
As a rule of thumb, you can divide the number of posts for a hashtag by 1,000 to determine how many likes your post will need to secure a top post slot.
No such requirements come into play when it comes to recent posts. This simply lists images for the relevant hashtag according to when they were published.
Extremely competitive hashtags like #photography will list your image for a microsecond before newer images take its place.
Less competitive keywords will give you slightly longer ‘hang time’ near the top of the recent posts, which means your images will be visible for longer.
How many hashtags should I use?
As is the case with choosing hashtags, go for quality over quantity. You can get far better value from five highly relevant, targeted portrait photography hashtags than you will out of 20 vague ones.
If you stick to using highly descriptive and relevant hashtags, chances are you will never bump up against Instagram’s 30 hashtag limit.
Here are some additional tips on how to improve the results you get from using Instagram hashtags.
- Use location keywords when making your hashtags more specific. Potential clients are often looking for a photographer in a specific location. Using a location keyword will not just make you easier for them to find but will automatically reduce the competition for the keyword.
- Create a hashtag for your photography business. This will make it easier for other users to share your images and make them searchable. Ensure that your business hashtag is unique to make it easy to identify in searches.
- Target influencers. There are several portrait photography profiles with large followings who may be prepared to feature your work. By including their identities in your hashtags, you can get yourself noticed by them and potentially tap into their reach and influence.
Best portrait photography hashtags on Instagram
The best portrait photography hashtags are the ones that most clearly describe what you do. The ones you should avoid are the ones that are going to be vague and/or ultra-competitive.
We’d therefore recommend against cutting and pasting hashtag lists into Instagram. Instead, this table can be used to determine competitiveness of popular portrait photography hashtags.
In addition, it can be used to establish which keywords can be expanded on to make them more descriptive of your own work and location.
Get discovered on Cherrydeck
Competition for attention on Instagram is fierce, and while you should make the most of the free marketing tools this app offers, there are better ways to find portrait photography clients online.
Cherrydeck was designed to make it as easy as possible for professional photographers to connect with potential clients.
Sign up with Cherrydeck and set up your profile and your portfolio will be visible to users running targeted searches for your specific services.
Besides getting the attention of the right people, Cherrydeck also gives you:
- The opportunity to discover new commissions and collaborations made available on our platform.
- Tools to boost your Instagram reach and following.
- Discounts on software for creative professionals via our Partner Deals program.
- The ability to present your events to our large creative community.
Visit Cherrydeck now to sign up. 🍒