Hashtags used to be the focus of sites like Twitter, designed to make it easier to search the platform. Since the rise of Instagram, hashtags have become even more valuable. An Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than one with no hashtag.
Hashtags help your post to reach new people. You can use them to attract followers from a specific niche and grow a brand reputation. Hashtags even give you a way to engage with your audience by commenting on trends and topics that you’re interested in.
Unfortunately, while many business leaders know how relevant hashtags are, most don’t know how to use them effectively.
That’s why we’ve put together this complete Instagram hashtag guide.
What Makes Hashtags So Important?
Hashtags aren’t just a way to make your posts look #trendy on Instagram.
This visual social platform uses hashtags as a robust sorting process. Instagram users publish around 95 million photos every day. Reaching your audience through all of that noise would be extremely difficult without some kind of sorting system.
Hashtags ensure that the right people see your posts.
On Instagram, hashtags are like a filter, they capture the essential customers that you want to reach and allow all of the irrelevant users to pass through. The right hashtags:
- Help you to stand out from the competition
- Ensure that you can reach the right audience with your content
- Build affinity with your target audience by showing you share the same interests
- Make it easier to categorize and sort your posts
- Demonstrate the values of your brand
- Make it easier to collect user-generated content
- Engage your chosen community
Hashtags may even help you in other aspects of your branding and marketing campaigns. As you learn what kind of topics your customers are interested in, you’ll find new ideas for blog posts, podcasts, videos, and more. Instagram hashtags could be the starting point of your entire strategy for building an online presence.
How to Use Instagram Hashtags Effectively
As you’ll discover through this guide to Instagram hashtags, using tags effectively is about more than just copying and pasting what you see on competitor accounts.
You need to learn how to effectively reach your audience and use your hashtags in the right places to maximize their impact.
- Do Your Research
The first step in using Instagram hashtags is making sure that you find the right tags to use. Fortunately, there are a lot of great places to look for inspiration. Online tools like HashtagSet can generate relevant tags for you based on your business data.
You can check your competitors’ posts as well. Getting inspiration from other accounts can be extremely helpful to gain more knowledge of your audience.
The key to choosing the best hashtags is to ensure that the words you use are on target with the interests of your audience. You want your tags to be popular, but not so popular that they’re impossible to rank for.
For extra assistance developing a unique hashtag strategy, use hashtag generator tools. Although you’ll need to combine the tags you generate with the information you’ve learned about your target audience, these tools can offer an excellent source of inspiration.
- Learn Where to Place your Hashtags
Aside from finding the right tags to include in your post, you’ll also need to figure out where to put them. This is a complicated question for a lot of business owners. One option is to list your hashtags in your comments. The other option could be to include them in your caption.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you decide to place your hashtags. What does matter is that you deliver the experience your customers prefer. If you’re worried that a post will seem too spammy if hashtags are included in the caption, add them to the comments.
One caveat is that if you’re using the most popular hashtags, you will need to put them in the caption. You can combine popular hashtags with @mentions and a few keywords to make your caption stand out on Instagram.
- Find Your Magic Number
So, now you know where to look for hashtags, and where to place them – how many do you use? The leading brands (91% of them) often stick to 7 hashtags or fewer.
That might not seem like a large number of hashtags at first. However, you don’t want to clutter your content with too much. The best thing you can do is spend some time experimenting with the number of tags that work best for your brand. For some companies, the number will be 1.
For other brands, the number could be closer to 10. If you’re worried that you’re using too many hashtags at once, try narrowing down your choices.
It’s often better to stick to niche tags that reach a specific audience than overly broad hashtags that can attract a wider audience.
- Find the Right Blend of Hashtags
For most businesses, the key to a successful Instagram campaign with hashtags will be finding the right blend of popular tags, niche options, and even custom hashtags.
Although it might be tempting to use nothing but high-performance popular tags that gain a lot of online attention, like #InstaGood, these terms are notoriously hard to rank for. Just like the most popular keywords in a PPC or SEO campaign, popular hashtags deliver a broad range of traffic, but lots of competition.
Mixing your popular hashtags with niche options will help you to reach out to a more specific audience that’s relevant to your needs. Some of the most popular hashtags to be aware of include:
- Industry hashtags: such as #blogger or #marketing
- Niche hashtags: #WeddingPhotographer or #TravelBlog
- Brand hashtag: #Lushcosmetics, #JustDoIt
- Community hashtags: #LushCommunity
- Location hashtags: #NewYork
- Event hashtags: #SuperBowl
- Celebration hashtags: #MothersDay
As your campaigns grow more complicated it might help to use a social media tool to create a kind of ladder strategy. This involves using a combination of large popular hashtags, and smaller related tags to create a more impactful post. High-density hashtags like #InstaGood are exceedingly challenging to rank for, but they can help you gain some traction when mixed with low-density options.
- Create a Brand Campaign Hashtag
It’s not just popular and niche hashtags that make an impact on your Instagram campaigns. You can also achieve incredible things by designing and using your hashtags.
Although creating a brand campaign hashtag is easier said than done, it yields massive results when handled correctly. Campaign hashtags are excellent for promoting products or upcoming events. Alternatively, if you have a dedicated following, then you can boost your brand’s reputation by asking them to post user-generated content with a campaign hashtag.
Remember to research what other people are hash-tagging to ensure you create something that’s bound to be trendy. You can also test out different styles of hashtags to see which one works best.
Once you’ve found an excellent brand hashtag, make sure you’re following it. This will give you a chance to track what people are saying about you and collect new content to share on your profile.
- Keep Your Hashtags Organized
Using the right hashtags on Instagram means having a strategy in place for managing your posts. Posting the same tags over and over not only makes your content look stale, but it can also attract negative attention from Instagram moderators.
Use tools like Hashtagset to generate sets of hashtags that work well together for different parts of your campaign. You’ll need to create a strategy for:
- Regular Instagram posts: Figure out what kind of hashtags you’re going to use on your everyday posts. Make sure you know how many tags you’re going to use, where you’re going to place them, and what kind of campaigns you might build.
- Instagram stories: Your Instagram Stories strategy should have its own unique nuances. Once again, you’ll need a combination of broad and niche hashtags, but you may use them in different ways on Stories. For instance, you can use hashtag stickers to build on your engagement opportunities here.
- IGTV: Though IGTV has yet to gain the same exposure as some of the other solutions on Instagram, it’s still an important up-and-coming solution. You can use up to 30 hashtags on IGTV, just as you would with your feed posts. Place your hashtags in your descriptions to make sure you rank for the right terms.
Remember to Test Out Related Hashtags
Don’t forget to consider the related hashtags that might be connected to the terms that you’re already using. When you type a hashtag in Instagram’s search bar, it will show you any related hashtags that are also ranking for a similar term.
Open the Instagram app on your phone and tap on the magnifying glass to start your search. This is available at the top and bottom of your app. As you start typing words, Instagram will suggest content based on topics you’ve shown interest in before.
Press Enter after typing your search into Instagram, and the social site will give you four options that you can use to filter your search. These are “People,” “Top” “Tags,” and “Places.” Tap on tags to get a wide selection of options to choose from.
If you’re keen to rank for the most exciting trending hashtags on the market right now, then check the “Hot” page too. This will show you some of the posts that are gaining the most attention for the term you’re interested in. Clicking onto those posts could give you some inspiration.
Remember, you’ll need to perform this research once every so often to update your tag list. There will be new trending hashtags to discover every few months or so.
You’ll Need to Constantly Work on Your Instagram Hashtags
One important thing to note when you’re following any Instagram Hashtag guide is that you’ll need to work on your strategy constantly if you want to accomplish great things. You don’t need to be a social media guru to see that the trends on Instagram change all the time.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of Instagram Stories, the impact of IGTV, and countless other new marketing solutions that must be addressed when working with hashtags.
The good news? You can generate some helpful information on your campaigns with Instagram Insights. The Instagram Insights page on your social media account highlights where your followers live, what kind of times they’re often online, and even which of your posts get the most attention.
As your business grows and you continue to develop new hashtag campaigns, you might want to consider using other tools like Later and Sprout Social for deeper insights into your hashtag strategy. The more information you have, the more informed your future campaign decisions will be.
Making the Most of Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags are the key to success on Instagram. If you want to grow your audience, reach the right people, and encourage engagement with your brand, you need hashtags. Unfortunately, as you may have learned through this guide to Instagram hashtags, you do need to spend some time working out how to use these tools properly.
It’s not enough to just place a selection of the most popular tags on your posts and hope for the best. Just like keywords on your blog posts or ad campaigns, you need to discover which hashtags are going to deliver the best return on investment.
We recommend experimenting with a bunch of different hashtag strategies, to begin with. Figure out what works for you by paying attention to the responses of your customers. Over time, you’ll learn more about which hashtags generate results, and which don’t.
At the same time, make sure that you’re keeping track of all the hashtags that you’re using. You’ll need to ensure that your content stays fresh, but also consistently relevant.