There are plenty of tricks out there to building an Instagram account for your business, but they don’t always yield the kind of results you want.
For example, want to add thousands of followers to your account without much effort? You can, but it will cost you. It’s simple. Head over to sites-which-will-not-be-named-dot-com. Select the tier of “quality followers” that you would like to buy.(Looks like 1,000 followers is running for $12.99 right now)
Pay up, and voila. You’ll have 1,000 new followers with profiles that look like this, liking all your posts from this day on:
Vanity metric = ✅
But if you’re looking for engaged followers who will be interested in buying your products and actually engaging in real conversations, this tactic will get you nowhere. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, who want to use Instagram to drive real results, hopefully you know that it’s better to have 1,000 true fans than 1 million bots following you around.
But what you may not know is that one of the most relied-upon methods for growing an Instagram account, something almost everyone uses religiously, is also way overrated when it comes to getting results that matter.
I’m talking about hashtags. Do hashtags matter? Do the likes and followers you can get from them actually work? Does it even make sense to use them?
Today, Foundr CEO Nathan Chan is revealing the truth about their ability to drive growth on Instagram. After growing the Foundr account from 0 to 1.8 million followers, he’s learned what moves the needle and what doesn’t when it comes to using instagram to gain more followers, fans, and paying customers. And here’s what he says about using hashtags for growth on the platform:
Stop Looking for Quick Tricks
Most people approach growing their Instagram accounts the same way they approach getting in shape. They look for the quick tricks and overnight hacks instead of putting in the real work it takes to create real progress.
For example, when it comes to the gym, people will ask, “What type of shoes should I wear on leg day?” Or “What kind of gloves do I wear for bench presses?”
Of course, none of these things matter in the grand scheme of things. The real secret is showing up, day in and day out. Doing the reps, over and over again.
Many people approach growing their Instagram the same way. They want to know, “What hashtag should I post to get more followers?” Or “Should I do just one hashtag or should I do as many as possible?”
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what hashtags you post or if you even post them.
Sacrilege! I know, but it’s true.
In fact, when growing the Foundr Instagram account, Nathan says he barely ever considered what hashtags he used.
And when he did post hashtags, they didn’t move the needle. Yeah, it might have contributed to a few additional followers and likes. But most of those were bots, and he could never link any hashtag he used to real, meaningful changes to the Foundr account.
When you think about it for a minute, this makes a ton of sense. I mean, when I think about my own behavior, I can honestly say I’ve never just clicked around on hashtags, found a brand or business I love, and bought all their stuff.
What about you?
In theory, hashtags are a great idea, but it’s just not how things work in the real world, especially for business accounts.
Instead, Nathan says, what really made a difference was consistently posting quality content day after day. People hate to hear this. They really want to hear the secret tips and tricks.
But sometimes, the real secret is doing the hard work of showing up every day.
Refusing to accept this fact is what Nathan says is the reason so many Instagram accounts struggle to make any real headway for months. On the flip side, publishing consistently can be all you need to create an enormous breakthrough.
Much like going to the gym regularly, results can start to happen much faster than you think once you accept the beauty and simplicity of putting in the hard work each day.
For example, my friend John Abbas was working hard to get his new company, Mentr, off the ground.
John had a vision and a mission for growing his company. But like most creators, his idea needed an audience first. So he started looking into audience-building strategies. Gurus told him to do webinars, write a book, launch a podcast, build a Facebook group, and more.
But at the end of the day, all these things he was trying had one thing in common: After a quick burst of excitement, it became clear that simply launching had no meaningful impact on his business.
What he needed to do was commit to showing up each day.
So he tried something different. Instead of doing everything under the sun, he committed to publishing on one platform for 30 days. John’s audience was concentrated on Facebook, so he chose to do 30 days of Facebook lives, but this same philosophy can be applied to Instagram.
What happened? Within just the first 10 days of consistently posting, he garnered more interest in his application and more followers to his brand than he had in months of his scattershot creation approach.
That’s what Nathan means when he says the hard work is the secret.
Posting great content day in and day out is the only secret you need to succeed on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or any other social media platform.
Why Consistent Publishing is the Secret for More Followers, Fans, and Customers
Whenever Nathan is thinking about the strategies that lead to incredible traction on Instagram (or any social media platform for that matter), he likes to remind himself of what these platforms want and how they reward publishers.
And in this instance, all of these social media platforms want people to stay on their platforms and come back. In other words, they make their money by having users regularly tuning in for new updates.
Now why’s that important? Because that means, in general, these platforms are likely to prefer and promote the content of consistent publishers to wider and broader audiences than that of less frequent publishers.
In other words, it’s a simple math problem.
If it comes down to featuring or recommending the content between two accounts, it’s in their best interest to push the content of consistent publishers over those less-frequently-publishing accounts.
Instead of fighting this reality, Nathan says you can use it to your advantage. While others look for cheap and dirty ways to exploit the platform and “hack their way” to thousands of followers and likes, you can align yourself with what the platforms want to promote and see incredible results.
Today, the best way Foundr has come up with for eventually adding 500 to 1,000 followers every single day is just creating amazing content that their followers will love (and hopefully share).
This is great news for real, legitimate businesses!
Because it means the days of needing to hunt down secret tactics are dwindling. And the dawn of a new era of the best accounts rising to the top is coming.
So the short answer to the question of “Do hashtags work?” is to stop worrying about the tricks and just focus on serving your people with the type of content they want to see.
That being said, even Nathan admits there is a legitimate use case for hashtags on Instagram. It’s just not what most people expect.
The Only Time Hashtags Matter
When it comes to using hashtags, there is one place Nathan has found to be a very powerful business-growing tool. And that is creating one specific hashtag for your business and encouraging people to use it when they share positive experiences with your products or brand.
This works not just as a way to connect like-minded customers online, but even more importantly, it can be used to encourage prospective customers to give your products a shot.
For example, one of my favorite brands of all time is Organifi green juice. I use their green juice every morning and their red juice is to die for. But when I was first considering trying out their products, I was highly skeptical of the claims they made.
They said that their green juice was the best tasting green juice in the world. Since I had tried other green juices in the past, I found it hard to believe a green juice could be palatable, much less good. With the brands I’d tried, I had to do everything in my power to hold my nose and chug them down without gagging.
So even after reading about the quality of Organifi’s ingredients, I almost never purchased.
But they did something that Nathan encourages every business to do with hashtags, and it completely flipped my perspective.
In one of their emails, they said, “If you’re on the fence, check out our Instagram to see real people’s real experiences with the product,” followed by a link. What I saw next completely surprised me.
There were dozens and dozens of real people posting on social media to confirm that Organifi really was the best tasting green juice they’d ever tried.
Instantly, I went from a skeptic to a believer and bought the product not five minutes later.
As Nathan points out, this is one of the most underappreciated ways to use hashtags. It works because of a principle of influence called social proof. It essentially means people look for safety in numbers when making decisions.
Nobody wants to be the only one taking a risk on a brand new product that no one has ever heard of. But if they’re able to see other people who’ve tried the product before and had great experiences, that hesitancy can fade away and be replaced with confidence.
Nathan says, if you’re a business and looking to put hashtags to work for your brand, you can implement this very simply.
At Foundr, they just send a short note or email to all their customers after they make purchases. And in that short message, they encourage customers to post their stories or experience with a product on Instagram using the hashtag.
Sometimes even just that nudge can be enough.
But if you really want to collect a lot of reviews quickly, you can also incentivize people to do it. Simply offer to regularly feature people’s stories on your Instagram account. Or take it one step further, and pick a winner each month to get a free product or gift card.
These extra incentives can encourage people to post more frequently and help you stack up a lot of reviews fast.
As more people do this, you’ll create a real asset that you can link to and leverage, again and again.
And instead of getting a few cheap likes with a hashtag, you can use this strategy to convert hesitant prospects into excited customers.
Stop Looking for Tricks!
Finding success on Instagram isn’t as difficult or secretive as most people think. Much like working out, the real secret is the hard work of doing it day in and day out.
But if you want the true path to growth, you’ll give up the hacks and commit to consistently publishing quality content.
Try to publish daily for 30 days and see what happens. Compare the traction before and after, and see if that doesn’t change your perspective.
Do you have a marketing gimmick or false trick that you want to call out? Fire away in the comments below. If we work together, we can save ourselves from pointless strategies and focus on what’s really going to work for growth.
Let me know in the comments below!