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How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

How to use hashtags on Instagram

Do you want to get more eyes and engagement on your Instagram posts? I bet you do. After all, what’s the point in creating and publishing all of that amazing visual content if nobody sees it?  

As a creative agency we see first-hand, every day, that Instagram posts with hashtags get way more engagement than those without any. 

But, how can you use hashtags on Instagram to get the best results? Is there more to it then adding # in front of random words?! 

 Yes, definitely. 

When used properly, incorporating relevant hashtags in your Instagram posts can improve your reach. Knowing how to use hashtags on Instagram is vital because they can help your posts perform better and cultivate an interest in you, your business, and your brand.  

On the other hand, if you use the ‘wrong’ type of hashtags, you risk being lost in a sea of posts, never to be seen or heard by your target audience. Instead of adding a bunch of random hashtags to your posts, you should take a more strategic approach and choose your hashtags carefully. 

To listen to the podcast episode hit play below, or read on for more… 

How not to use hashtags on Instagram

Before we dive into the best practices for using hashtags in your Instagram posts, let’s take a moment to talk about what not to do. 

It’s a huge pet peeve of mine (and the entire team here at Content 10x) to see brands that fail to leverage the power of hashtags. We create a lot of social media content for our clients and often publish that content on Instagram. When we do, we ensure that we use appropriate hashtags. We do a lot of research. 

Seeing people using hashtags with no thought or strategy is really frustratingDon’t we all want content to get in front of as many of the right people as possible without attracting a swarm of spam comments? Don’t we want everything to be just right, including publishing and the use of hashtags? 

When it comes to choosing the right hashtags for your posts, it’s not as simple as #just #putting #a #hashtag #on #any #word (which I see people do all the time). It’s also not about throwing hashtags at the end of your post and hoping for the best.  

It’s better to be strategic. 

How to use Hashtags on Instagram

How to track the performance of your hashtags 

Using hashtags is a great way to get noticed on Instagram. In fact, if you have a really small following then hashtags really will be the main way that you will get found by others. 

But, did you know that you can analyze the performance of your chosen hashtags? 

All you have to do is look at your post insights. Click ‘view insights’ and you’ll see how people found you. You’ll discover whether they found you by hashtags or from their home feed, etc. Having this data will help you identify the high performing keywords and through trial and error, you can start eliminating the weak ones from the herd.

If you use a third-party tool to post content, they will often go a step further and provide you with all sorts of analysis on your post and hashtags. You can also use a social media management tool such as Sprout Social to help track the effectiveness of certain hashtags that you’ve woven into your posts. 

Here are a few things you need to know about using hashtags on Instagram: 

  • You can use up to 30 in one post – you don’t have to, but you can 
  • More is better. Instagram “culture” is perfectly fine to use plenty of hashtags 
  • You can incorporate hashtags in your captions, at the bottom of your caption, or add them as the first comment. They all work the same way 
  • You could also tap ‘Add Location’ to drop a location tag on your post. Geotags can also help you get found on Instagram

How to develop an effective hashtag strategy 

A good hashtag strategy mixes broad vs narrow and popular vs niche hashtags. 

A broad hashtag would be something like #entrepreneur for a post sharing business tips. It’s relevant, but it’s not going to attract much engagement because it’s way too broad. Think about what type of business you’re talking about and choose a more targeted keyword term such as #marketingagency 

Imagine you’re a chef in San Diego. A highly broad hashtag would be #food. That won’t help you. The much narrower option, #sandiegorestaurant will be much more effective and help you get more engagement on the platform. 

Popular vs niche hashtags are all about the numbers 

How many posts use a particular hashtag?  

To find out...

  • Open Instagram
  • Search a relevant keyword for your latest post or your business 
  • Tap the ‘Tags’ tab 
  • You’ll see a whole list of similar tags, each one displaying how many times it’s been used. We’ll use these numbers to divide our hashtags into groups
How to Use Instagram Hashtags

Here you can see #content is extremely popular.

How to group your hashtags

At Content 10x, we have a formula of how many popular, moderately popular and targeted niche tags we use:

  • We consider popular hashtags to have from anywhere between 500k to 1m posts. The popular tags give you a quick burst of exposure that dies down in minutes.  
  • Moderately popular hashtags have 10s of thousands up to 500k posts. When you use moderately popular hashtags, your exposure can last for hours or even days. 
  • The super niche hashtags have less than 100k posts and continue to provide a trickle of exposure for weeks. 

Incorporating a mix of popular, moderately popular and super niche specific hashtags in your posts will help perk up Instagram’s algorithm.

Click to Tweet

Instagram sees your initial burst followed by long-term attention and assumes you’re a bit of a rock star. 

Get this right, and you’ll probably outperform the other posts in the narrow, niche hashtag categories, which will put your post in the short running for being made a Top Post. As a Top Post, you’ll be seen first by everyone searching those hashtags. 


Don’t use hashtags with over 1 million uses.  It’s not worth it. You’ll probably only get a handful of real human eyeballs. The rest will be automated bots swarming your comment section leaving things like, “Great post!” and “Awesome photo,” and “I love your page, check mine out too”. If you use hashtags with over, day 5 million, you’ll see SO much spam coming your way you’ll need a shower after!  

It’s all about doing research. Research what hashtags similar businesses use, research your competitors and spend time digging deep into content and collating hashtags that seem relevant. 

Don’t forget that you can use hashtags in Stories as well as in your posts, so don’t leave Stories out of your Instagram hashtag strategy! 

It’s also worth noting that people can follow a hashtag vs a profile so using hashtags the right way means people are finding and following you via the hashtags you use.

In Conclusion 

If you are creating lots of awesome content, and trying to grow an audience on Instagram, then hashtags are going to be hugely beneficial for you. 

Do not just randomly throw hashtags in front of any word. 

This is pointless and it’s not going to help you get found. It’s not going to do anything for you at all actually…apart from potentially attract spam. 

Hashtags are a great tool for getting found, but you need to do research and have a strategy.  Get this right and get more eyes on your content! 

We’ve got hashtag tips for LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram as well as guides on writing engaging social copy in The Content 10x Toolkit. Find out how you can increase your reach and engagement with our DIY toolkit.


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