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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?  

After all, what’s the point in creating and publishing that amazing visual content if nobody sees it?  

Instagram posts with hashtags often get 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 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

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 not nice 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. 

When it comes to choosing the right hashtags for your posts, it’s not as simple as just adding hashtags to any word. 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 an effective 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 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 be able to track engagement on posts, stories, Instagram Lives and Reels and see what performed best, often based on the hashtags you’ve used. 

How to use Hashtags on Instagram

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. 

How to develop an effective hashtag strategy 

Firstly, note that, in 2023, Gather Social shared that Instagram recommend using 3-5 hashtags per post – something to bear in mind before you get started. 

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. 

Sure, you can use a variety of popular and niche hashtags. But don’t make your popular ones as vague as the ones above, like #entrepreneur or #food, which have tens of millions of posts attributed to them. Try #entrepreneurtips (1m posts) or #foodiegram (11m posts). 

Popular vs niche hashtags are all about the numbers 

How many posts use a particular hashtag?  

Open Instagram and search a relevant hashtag for your latest post or your business. As you start typing, you’ll start to see your selected hashtag and a number of similar ones starting with what you’ve typed. 

We’ll use these numbers to divide our hashtags into groups.  

How to Use Instagram Hashtags

Here you can see #content is extremely popular.

Another top tip is to look at your competitors’/peers’ best-performing posts and check their hashtags. They may be useful for you to tap into a similar audience. 

How to develop an effective hashtag strategy 

We have a formula of how many popular, moderately popular and targeted niche tags we use.  

  • The most popular ones could have tens or even hundreds of millions of posts. These will give you a quick burst of exposure that dies down very quickly. 
  • The moderately popular ones could have anything from a few hundred thousand to a few million. These will give you moderate exposure that will last a little longer. 
  • The more niche hashtags will have anything less than a few hundred and will give you more minimal exposure that will trickle out over the course of weeks.  

Incorporating a mix of popular, moderately popular and super niche specific hashtags in your posts will help perk up Instagram’s algorithm. 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 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. Your post will likely get lost in a sea of competing posts.

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.  

Get this right and get more eyes on your content! 


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