Let’s talk about hashtags. Back in the day, you could gain a ton of followers with a lit hashtag strategy that didn’t take much thought. 

All you had to do was choose 30 industry-related hashtags, drop them in your notes section, and paste them in the comments of your post to reach thousands of accounts.

Remember the good old days — #realtor, #openhouse, #realestateagent. Times were good. Drake just came out with “God’s plan,” the Astros were cheating in the World Series, and we were all gaining hundreds of followers a day just by posting #realtor. 

It truly was the golden era of Instagram. You could sometimes double or even triple your engagement with hashtags. 

So, that leads us to the question, “What about hashtags right now, as I’m watching this video? Do they work? And if they do, how should I use them?”

The four types of hashtags

Let’s first break down the types of hashtags. According to me, there are four types of hashtags: 

  • Content-specific
  • Location-specific 
  • Global 
  • Branded

Content-specific hashtags refer to the actual content of the post. For example, if I post a Family Guy meme about being nervous before an inspection, I would use hashtags like—

  • #Stewie
  • #FamilyGuy
  • #inspection
  • #nerves

Location-specific hashtags are exactly what they sound like. If I’m hosting an open house in Tucson, Arizona, I might use hashtags like—

  • #TucsonOpenHouse
  • #Tucson
  • Or a specific neighborhood—like #Foothills.

Hyper-localized hashtags won’t have as many posts as broader city hashtags, but they can help with searchability.

Global hashtags have hundreds of thousands and millions of posts attributed to them. Some popular ones would be—

  • #realtor
  • #realestateagent
  • #realestate
  • #money
  • #funny

These are the most useless hashtags because they have so many posts, they really can’t help you at this point. I wouldn’t even touch these hashtags. 

Branded hashtags are hashtags you use for your personal business. For example, mine would be—

  • #BrokeAgent
  • #BAM
  • #TheBrokeAgent

For you, it might be something like #SmithRealEstate or whatever your team name is. Your brokerage also, I’m sure, has hashtags like— 

  • #AgentsofCompass
  • #RE/MAX, or
  • #eXpRecruiters

The golden question

Now for the golden question, “How many hashtags should you use in your post?”

I say two to four. And do not use them in every post. 

Hashtags are a bit like drugs, in that the more you use them, the less effective they are. For best results, use them maybe one in every three posts. 

And remember the golden rule: only use hashtags specific to that post. 

If you post something about your family at Disneyland, do not use #realtor. In fact, you’ll never want to use #realtor because, as I mentioned, it’s too broad in the first place. 

Instagram and all social platforms recognize when the content does not match the tags. And that can actually hurt your post’s performance. Look at your post and think, “What hashtags can I use to enhance this post’s discovery? Does it add to my post, or is it pointless?”

Where should you post the hashtags?

That brings us to the next question: “Where should I post the hashtags?” 

The answer: Post them in your caption the second you publish the post. Don’t add them later, and don’t post them in the comments. 

Instagram wants you to use the app as intended. If you post your hashtags in the comments, they will not be as effective, they might not register, and they might even be seen as spam-like behavior by Instagram.

A lot of people post hashtags in the comments because they think they’re unsightly and boring and kinda look like you’re begging for engagement—which I don’t entirely disagree with because that’s exactly what you’re doing. 

If you want to hide your hashtags, post them at the end of your caption with a few spaces for separation. But make sure they’re in that caption.

Location-specific posts

If you’re posting location-specific posts—whether it’s your listing photos, a market update, or anything that’s real estate-related—you should tag the location. 

Somewhere in the hashtags, switch it up to see what works best, going with broader location tags with some and more specific with others. 

But make sure you include the location in every post. 

What’s more effective than hashtags or location tags? 

Do you know what’s actually more effective than hashtags or location tags? Audio. 

If you’re posting a Reel, audio acts like a way more potent hashtag because it actually groups your content with everyone else who’s using that trending audio

Hashtags and location tags in Stories

So, what about hashtags in Stories? And what about location tags in Stories? 

You should definitely use the hashtag and location tag sticker in your Stories. Use maybe one or two hashtags and a location tag, just as you would use them in your feed. Do specific ones that are accurate to the context of your post.

A little trick you can do is you can hide them from your Story, so it doesn’t look like an engagement grab. Just touch the screen and then slide it off the screen. 

The most forgotten and best use for hashtags

What I think is the most forgotten and best use for hashtags is to search and follow them. I like to follow hashtags that will serve me content outside of the people I follow for post inspiration. 

For example, I follow hashtags like #RealtorHumor and #RealtorProblems. And occasionally, a meme or a joke from an agent will pop up in my feed, and I don’t even follow them. 

For agents, it might be good to follow hashtags for your location or community so you can track what’s going on and comment on accounts you don’t follow. I also like to search hashtags for ideas and posts.

So, there you have it. Hashtag strategy is not something I would be too concerned about, but they can add a little value and context to your post—possibly putting it in front of a few more people. 

But they’re mainly used for searching, to follow, and to get your content in front of the right people. 

For more Instagram strategies, check out 2022 Instagram Hacks and Your Weekly Instagram Prescription

Also, if you want to see me dive deeper and show you how to implement social media strategies, click here to get on the waiting list for BAM’s social media course.