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Hashtag lazy

Wall of illustrated post-it notes

What’s that expression about “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”?

This morning I had cause to experience that first hand. For the last few months, I’ve been dabbling with Instagram and drawing a new post every day. I don’t have many followers but that’s not my reason for doing it. I get around about the same amount of likes per post which varies a bit depending on the time of day or day of the week. If I draw cats or hedgehogs it goes up.

Yesterday I was short on time so I cheated on my hashtags and used one of the ‘tags for likes’ websites and just cut and pasted. My likes were some of the lowest I have ever had and my followers dropped.

Having just said I’m not in this for the popularity I’m embarrassed to admit I was a little disappointed. I thought it was one of my better posts. It was topical, seasonal and humorous. Given that my starting point for setting up the account in the first place was to better understand Instagram, I thought I would see if I could improve the post by making a few changes. This morning I reposted the same illustration at roughly the same time of day but spent time on my hashtags. I made sure they were more relevant to my image. I put a couple of seasonal ones in there for good measure but then stuck to ones more relevant to my industry. The results were almost immediate. So far today the popularity of this image has increased from yesterday by 550% and I’ve gained a few extra followers.

Now, of course, I already knew hashtags were the key – who doesn’t? But sometimes I get lazy or complacent and I don’t put much thought into them. The fun bit for me is in creating the images, not the typing bit. Today proved to me that for anyone who is actually serious about growing their account or engaging more with their followers, you’ve really got to put the effort in. It’s not just about filling it with the most popular hashtags. Relevance is key. No great insight I know but sometimes you can read all the articles and insights around but it’s only when you actually try something for yourself that you truly understand. And of course by making a few mistakes along the way.

Illustrations on post-it notes

And now I might as well end with a shameless plug. If you want to see what else I draw besides cats and hedgehogs feel free to follow me on Instagram at @WMSHwall. I’ve got a drunk Santa, some sellotape and some mischievous elves planned for the next few days…

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