Using Hashtags in Instagram

Some tips and tricks to help your hashtags work for you...

Many people say that they don’t think hashtags are working for them. And it really can seem like this sometimes. You work hard at making your Instagram posts interesting, informative, fun and maybe even entertaining and then what? Nothing…

However, using Hashtags in Instagram will grow your profile and get you in front of people who have not heard of you, your brand as well as your products and services.

Hashtags are actually really powerful and should be an essential part of your social media strategy. If you are not getting additional reach, exposure and engagement from the hashtags you are using, and the content you are putting out there is good, then it could be down to your hashtag strategy.

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What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is a combination of letters, numbers, and/or emojis. All preceded by the # symbol (e.g., #sokada). They are used to categorise content and make it more discoverable online.

Hashtags are clickable. So anyone who clicks on an Instagram hashtag will be forwarded to a page showing all the posts tagged with that hashtag. This is a great way of seeing who else is using the same hashtags!

Hashtags are an important way to expand your Instagram audience. When you use a hashtag, your post appears on the page for that hashtag. If you use a very popular hashtag, however, then this will be for an extremely short amount of time!

If you use a hashtag on your Story, it could also be included in the relevant hashtag Story, which also appears on the hashtag page.

Instagram hashtags can be a great way of building a community online so people are motivated to engage with your brand. We have seen this with the hashtag #thinkheathfield which is being used to promote shopping locally in our home town.

Some Hashtag Ideas

To help, here are a few ideas to get you going so you get some inspiration!

  • You have up to 30 hashtags per post on an Instagram post. With 10 on a story. Every time you use a hashtag, then it gives you another opportunity to be found. That said, just because you can use that many hashtags for Instagram doesn’t mean you should. There’s no right number of hashtags for every business, or even for every post by the same business.
  • Don’t just use really highly populated hashtags. The more popular the hashtag, the more competition you have and the less chance of being or staying on the Explore page. Try and think of something different, or a hashtag that is relatively new so isn’t overly used yet. Longtailed keywords are great for this! Use niche hashtags that target the specific audience you want to attract. The more specific you can be the better the outcome.
  • Use location-based hashtags where relevant; this can help to push your content further on the Explore page.
  • Mix up your hashtags. Don’t use the same group of hashtags each time. Instagram doesn’t like this and may flag your account. However, to save time, why not save hashtags for future use. Obviously don’t overuse the same ones or even just copy and paste. But pick and choose from a full repertoire of hashtags that will be relevant to that post.
  • You can add them in your main text but also in a comment. They both get you seen. It may be easier to add them in the main text but putting them in a first comment will keep your caption a little neater.
  • Follow hashtags yourself. You will find new people to follow and interact with. They will then appear in your feed which is perfect for you to see.
  • Make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to your business and the content you are posting.
  • Use insights to see which hashtags are working the best. If you have a business profile then take a look through the information within it.
  • Avoid banned or spammy hashtags such as like4like etc. Using these will not help your account to grow with targeted and loyal followers. You will end up attracting bots, fake accounts and it could be detrimental to your own accounts credibility rating with Instagram further down the line.
  • Make sure the hashtag means what you think it means!
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How to find the best hashtags for Instagram for YOUR brand

Check out the competition

You don’t necessarily want to model your competition’s strategy too closely, but taking a look at the hashtags they use can give you some good clues about what’s working for others in your industry.

Maybe you’ll discover new hashtags to add to your repertoire. Or you could decide you don’t want to compete for the same wording. In which case you can search for alternative hashtags to use.

See what hashtags your audience is already using

After all, if your audience is already using a certain hashtag, then other people just like them are probably using it too. Finding these existing Instagram communities is a great way to expand your audience and reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your business.

Keep an eye on your top followers and see what hashtags they’re using. Instagram’s search tool can give you some additional information about which hashtags the people you follow care about. When you conduct an Instagram hashtag search, the search tool will show you if anyone you follow also follows that hashtag. (Note that this only works on mobile, not on desktop.)