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How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

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Mar 27, 2024• Proven solutions

Do you know how to hashtag on Instagram? Well, of course you know how to add a '#' to the start of a word to turn it blue, but do you really know how to use hashtags on Instagram to get more engagement on your posts? ?

Instagram currently boasts in excess of 800 million users, with 500 million of those active on a daily basis. With so many people online at one time, it's not always easy to get your posts in front of the right people for your business. However, once you know how to use hashtags on Instagram, you'll be able to present your posts to the most engaged users, helping you grow your followers and your business as well.

Those who already know how to hashtag on Instagram have discovered the benefits this can bring. Posts with at least one hashtag generate 12.6 per cent more engagement that those without, according to research. Of course, if you get a mention by a major influencer in your sphere your engagement could receive a huge boost, but aside of this, the humble hashtag has a major part to play.

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Find out how to use hashtags on Instagram with your business in our ultimate guide for 2018.

Ultimate Instagram Hashtags Guide for 2018

For your pleasure, our guide will help you understand everything you need to know about how to use hashtags to gain followers and increase likes. Let's get started.

1. What are Instagram hashtags and how do they work?

Before we can start on how to hashtag on Instagram, it's important that we're all on the same page in terms of what they are and how they work.

In a nutshell, an Instagram hashtag is a bookmark; a way of categorizing content. It can be any word, phrase, number or even emoji which is prefixed by the hash symbol (#). Clicking on a hashtag on Instagram will bring up all the posts that have used that hashtag, so that you can discover new content you are interested in.

2. Why should you use hashtags?

Whether you're a startup, new to Instagram or simply haven't managed to acquire many followers, using hashtags on Instagram is a great way to grow your audience. By finding out how to hashtag on Instagram, your posts can be found by a much larger circle of users.

As a business, using hashtags on Instagram will help you be discovered by people who don't already follow your page, helping you acquire new followers and boosting brand recognition. Not only that, but when you know how to use hashtags on Instagram, you can increase your reach on other channels too, because when a user shares your content to Twitter or Facebook, the hashtag is shared with it.

3. What types of hashtags are there?

When deciding how to use hashtags on Instagram, it's important to recognize the various types of hashtags so that you can pick the right ones for you. The right hashtags will depend on your goals as a business, as well as the type of content you are sharing at that time. For example:

  • Product, service and general hashtags: These might be what you do as a business (e.g. #painter) or what product you sell (e.g. #furniture). They are good for brands who want to make their work or products better known but can be difficult to achieve engagement for as there tends to be high competition.
  • Niche hashtags:For more chance of being seen, niche hashtags reduce the competition by being more specific about your product or service. For example, #ladiesshoes rather than just #shoes will be found by more people specifically interested in shoes, while #ladiesheels will reach an even more interested audience.
  • Interest hashtags: To reach enthusiasts in your niche, use interest related hashtags that describe your post. Research popular tags from the top posts section or see what specific groups are using to tag their posts. For instance, #shoeaholics or #heelsofInstagram will engage with those passionate about amazing footwear.
  • Location hashtags: As you might have guessed, these tags are specifically the places where the content was show, for example #UK, #london or #hammersmith will find users who are interested in products, services or images from that location. You could also combine these with your service to narrow the audience even further, for instance #heelsinlondon or #londonfashionblogger.
  • Branded hashtags: These types of hashtags are often used by businesses on Instagram to promote their brand or a particular ad campaign. You might promote the name of your business, e.g. #divashoes, or a slogan you are pushing, such as #comfortfit. However, be aware these don't tend to get more followers on their own, because people won't be searching for or adding branded hashtags to their posts unless they are compelled to do so. However, they can be great for engagement during a live event, for creating contests and to position your brand deeper in your audience's mind, so use them where you can.

Understanding these different types of hashtags will help you understand how to use hashtags on Instagram better, by lacing your post with a variety of suitable tags.

4. How to add a hashtag to your post

If you're not sure how to hashtag on Instagram, here's a quick walkthrough. You can add tags as either captions to your post or in the comments area. As long as your account is public, the hashtag will ensure your post is discoverable via the corresponding hashtag page. Here's how it works:

  • Upload a photo or video to your Instagram account
  • Pick your filters and edit as required
  • Type the hash (#) symbol in the caption field followed by the text you want to be indexed for
  • Tap OK
  • Then share

If you prefer to add your hashtag to the comments section, just find the post and type in your hashtag in the comments section. This is particularly good if you plan to use a lot of hashtags and don't want to make your post look too messy.

Letters, numbers and emojis work as hashtags, but special characters and spaces do not. Don't add in any symbols like * or %, and type words altogether without any spaces. You cannot add hashtags to other people's posts, only your own, and can use up to 30 tags on any single post.

5. How to find the best hashtags for your brand

If you're not sure how to find the best hashtags for Instagram, there are a few options open to you:

  • Search: Just doing a simple search can throw up some interesting hashtags and useful data for your post. Click in the search bar and begin your query with a #. Instagram will present you with a list of suggestions as you start to type, as well as how many posts have been tagged with that particular hashtag. If you don't know where to start, think about what your business does, provides or specializes in as a good launchpad. If you already have a list of keywords you use for SEO or PPC, this can be a great source of initial inspiration.
  • Competition: If there are other businesses already on Instagram who are in your niche, maybe who have a sizeable following already, they may well already be leveraging a hashtag strategy which you can learn from. Visit their account and see which hashtags they use on a regular basis. If they're posting the same tags over and over again, there's a good chance they've already done a bit of trial and error research and have discovered the ones that work.
  • Related: If you've got a hashtag or two already that you get good engagement from, visit the pages for those hashtags and see what else is posted alongside them. There may be other hashtag trends relating to your business that you haven't thought of yet, and could try including in future posts.
  • Influencers: Who are the biggest influencers in your industry? Is there a blogger who simply loves products like yours? If so, check out what hashtags they use, and follow along with their favorites to reach the people who follow them. Their audience is essentially the same as yours, so why not learn from the experts?

Avoid using 'spammy' hashtags such as #like4like, #followme, #follow4follow and #followback. These are insanely popular among low quality Instagramers who simply want more followers, without caring about the quality. Stick to carefully chosen, related hashtags to gain valuable followers for your business.

6. How many hashtags should you use?

No doubt you've uncovered a great list of potential hashtags for your Instagram posts, but how many should you use in each posting? Instagram is less strict than Twitter, in that you can use up to 30 hashtags per post. However, that doesn't mean you should go all out on every post, so how many is enough?

For some insight into the 'norm', you can take a look at influencers and competitors and see how many hashtags they tend to use. You can also conduct a bit of trial and error testing to see how to use hashtags on Instagram to their full effect, by varying the number you use and tracking the results.

Research conducted last year found that there is certainly a case for the more the merrier. Buffer discovered that engagement was greatest on posts with 11 hashtags, at 79.5 per cent compared to just 29 per cent for one. A separate study by TrackMaven found that nine hashtags performed best.

As a general rule, there is no rule. Optimum hashtag numbers will depend on your industry, but there's no need to be stingy as more definitely is more. Remember to test and adapt to the response you are getting to make hashtags work for your brand.

7. How to get onto Top Posts

Getting bumped up to a Top Post is the holy grail of how to hashtag on Instagram. There are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of getting your post into the spotlight.

  • Pick the right hashtags: If you want to trend for a hashtag, avoid the massive tags unless you already have more than 10k followers. Something like #dietgoals is more likely to steer you towards a top post than something huge like #instafood.
  • Punch for maximum engagement: Focus on getting high levels of engagement as quickly as possible by scheduling your post to go live when your audience is most active. Research your target market, consider time zones and use a scheduling tool to optimize your post if you can't be online at precisely the right time.
  • Add some biggies too: Using between three and five of the really big hashtags are likely to boost engagement too. You aren't likely to hit the top post for these, but should acquire a ton of likes and comments, which will help your target hashtag to rank higher too.

Breaking into the top posts takes some dedication, trial and error and a good level of commitment. It's all dependent on the Instagram algorithm, the workings of which is a closely guarded secret, but by following these tips you'll give your post the best chance of success.

Now you know not only how to hashtag on Instagram, but also why and which ones to use. Why not try reviewing your hashtag strategy and see what results you can get? If you have any other tips on how to use hashtags on Instagram that we haven't included in our guide, leave a comment and let us know.

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Shanoon Cox
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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Shanoon Cox

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