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Hashtag, YOU'RE IT! 4 tips on how to hashtag to get business

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By Grace Joyal

Instagram is pushing the envelope for small businesses in a way no other social media site has been able to do. For FREE, you can build a following that doesn't just increase your notifications, but brings real revenue. Making use of hashtags, or content funnels, is crucial to making it happen.

1. Look at what your ideal followers are tagging

Your ideal follower should be your ideal customer. So, who is that? Search words related to your industry and start following the hashtag trail. You'll find real, future customers hidden in the sea of hashtags. Start with the obvious ones - for a florist, those would be #floraldesign, #flowergram and #wedding - and then, be creative (and sneaky!): #weddinginspo, #bridetobe, #gettingmarried, #engaged

2. Don't use too few - or too many

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The maximum number of hashtags Instagram allows is 30, however, research shows that somewhere between nine and 12 yields the highest reach and engagement numbers. Make sure that you're changing up the hashtags you use - Instagram's algorithm might box you out of reaching non-followers through hashtags if you're overusing quite a few popular ones.

3. Make a list of which are most popular

It's a jungle out there, but Instagram has done a few things to up your chances of reaching a potential customer. When you type a potential hashtag into a caption, the number of posts associated with it appears. The higher the number, the more frequently people are using the hashtag on their own photos. By human nature, that also means more people are looking at what's been tagged with the hashtag, which is good for YOU.

5. Create your own

Build your own community by including your own hashtag on every post you make. Include the tag in your bio. Don't forget to actually check it (just click on it) - followers will start using it if you ask them to! Make sure you comment on posts of followers who are using the hashtag, and reward them by giving them a shout-out, re-posting their pictures (with permission) and keeping them posted on any giveaways.

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