The Power of the Hashtag

It's not tic-tac-toe and it's not a pound sign. It's a hash sign.
What we're all familiar with however, is a hashtag. By definition, a hashtag is a word or phrase used on social media that proceeds a pound sign most used for sub-captions or caption add-ons, but it is most properly used for SEO, or search engine optimization.

SEO drives traffic to your blog or platform by increasing the chances of your posts showing up more on search engines, but it is only effective when used properly.
This is where research comes in: 
Search the most popularly used hashtags that are relevant to your niche. Study the hashtags other Instagrammers use in your field and be specific. 
For example, use #ootd, #fblogger, etc.
For photographers, use #collectingportraits, #gameoftones, etc.

You not only want to drive traffic to your account, but you want to direct the proper traffic. Target your demographic. 
You want loyal followers that are interested in what you're posting. Having five followers who are loyal to your work versus ten who don't care will benefit you in the long run in comparison to a follower count inflation, making it appear as though you bought your followers. This is especially important if your like ratio doesn't match to your number of followers.

Of course, don't hashtag every word in your caption or fill your caption space with hashtags:
"I love the way my #top matches my #skirt and the way my #heels make my #outfit so #romantic. These #shoes would look so good with my #dress."
This will deter your audience from wanting to read your caption; let alone, follow you. People are naturally inclined to cleanliness, symmetry, concise text and visually appealing work, which is why you need to keep your hashtags separate from your caption.

Know that you can use up to 30 hashtags per post so use that to your advantage. Use as many as you possibly can.
 I like to save all my hashtags in my notes on my phone. That way, I can edit accordingly and copy and paste in a separate comment as soon as I post. Make sure to do this as soon as you post.

Timeliness is key and hashtag searches move fairly quickly, especially in the most used hashtags. When people search hashtags, pictures don't stay at the top even if you post all 30 of your hashtags an hour after you've made a post live. Other posts will push yours down the search feed and drown you out, making it difficult to be noticed.
Therefore, the sooner you publish your hashtags on your post, the better it will help you and the more hashtags you use, the more traffic will be directed to you.
What are some hashtags you use? 
 Top via Zara / High-waisted jeans via Tobi / Mules via Forever21

Photography by Justin Quebral