Instagram is at the top of the social media food chain, and every IG ninja knows that hashtags are the real deal.
Hashtags can make or break your exposure on Instagram; they are that powerful. If you want to stop being invisible on Instagram, you must learn how to use Instagram hashtags properly – and to be honest, it’s not that hard.
All you need to do is learn the basics, add a little bit of creativity, and voila! You will start seeing the growth you crave.
Unfortunately, many don’t know how to leverage hashtags for better exposure– they just sprinkle random or popular hashtags at posts and pray it triggers engagements. But sadly, it doesn’t work like that.
Every Tom, Dick, and Harry would have millions of likes and comments on every post if it did.
This naivety is why new brands find it challenging to establish a presence on Instagram and struggle to stay afloat in the pool of competition.
Many questions surround the use of hashtags on Instagram, but don’t worry; this article will answer those questions.
Why are hashtags so important anyway? Aren’t they just words?
Hashtags are words preceded with the # sign, but they are a whole lot more. If they weren’t vital, no one would bother about them, and they’d be lost in the horde of social media elements.
Here are some of the reasons why hashtags are vital in promoting your Instagram account.
Exposure Exposure Exposure
Hashtags literally bring your content into the limelight.
Let’s assume the hashtag #dresslikeaqueen is trending in the fashion world, with dozens of designer fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Fendy, and Chanel using it to promote their designs.
Of course, millions of customers will search for that particular hashtag to check out what it’s all about.
Now imagine adding that exact hashtag to one of your posts. That translates to millions of people potentially discovering your content. Isn’t that just amazing?
They boost audience interactions.
The mere fact that Instagram users consciously search and click on hashtags should tell you that they rate hashtags a lot. And when they do find attractive posts with hashtags, they tend to comment and interact with them.
Sometimes, brands create custom hashtags for their products and feature clients that use such hashtags on their pages. Using such hashtags, you may find yourself in a pool of interactions, especially if your posts are of top-tier quality.
Hashtags may help you discover the latest industry trends
The world is a highly dynamic place, with new trends popping up every now and then. It can be pretty difficult to keep up with these trends – well, only if you don’t know how to utilize hashtags.
All you have to do is check the buzzing hashtags, and who knows, you just might discover your next big break.
For instance, if you check the dropshipping hashtag on Instagram, you will quickly realize that it’s an evergreen trend. The hashtag alone has amassed over 1.5 million posts. So if you have a post related to dropshipping, you surely want to include the hashtag.
How Do I Utilize Hashtags to Promote my Content?
Now that you understand the prowess of hashtags, the next line of action is to apply them. But before that, there’s a lot to learn- including knowing where to use your hashtags.
Places where you can use hashtags on Instagram
This is your main profile page, and everything you post here stays there basically forever – except you delete them. Here, you can use up to 30 targeted hashtags in the caption or comment section.
This means that millions of people can locate your page via 30 different hashtags for every Instagram post you make. Please do your research, pick the best of the bunch (preferably between 10 and 15), and use them.
Instagram Stories is a feature that allows users to post content that vanishes after 24 hours. These posts will be visible to your followers and some people you follow, but to boost your chances of exposure, you can add hashtags to the mix.
Here, you can use only three hashtags in a text box and one as a sticker. Using hashtags on stories will significantly boost your views – which means exposure for your content/brand.
IGTV is an autonomous video app developed by Instagram to allow users to post longer videos (up to 10 minutes for regular accounts and 1 hour for large or verified accounts).
People often use this feature to share exclusive content, broadcast main events and shows, deliver tutorial videos, or publish episodes of content relating to their brand – and so can you.
IGTV allows up to 30 hashtags per video – a massive opportunity to showcase your content or brand to the world.
How Do I Find the Best Hashtags in my Niche?
It would be out of place and quite unprofessional to use an energy drink hashtag in a clothing brand post. Avoid doing this at all costs. There are way better hashtags to use. All you need to do is find them.
Check out posts from other brands in your industry.
One of the best ways to discover traffic-generating hashtags is to take a look at the posts of your competitors and superiors in the industry.
Some may see this as lazy and unethical, but please – it’s not like they invented all those hashtags.
It is perfectly fine for you to take a cover from their books – in this case, hashtags from their posts – and use it in yours.
If those hashtags generate engagements for your competitors and superiors, you can expect that they will have the same effect on your posts.
Research the hashtags industry influencers are using.
Like Elon Musk to Cryptocurrency, Coles Sprouse to fashion, and Soccerbible to football, every industry has influencers or leading figures that drive discussions and create trends.
They often create or use hashtags that everyone interested in that niche responds to, and this is why you must find out what hashtags these Instagram influencers are currently using.
You can do this by searching for a generic word like football in the search tab – you will find a boatload of posts using that particular word as hashtags.
Scroll through and locate the prominent accounts, then check the other hashtags they use. And just like that, you can find the hashtags that will push your content to possible stardom.
Pro tip: Ensure that the hashtags from these sources don’t have multiple interpretations that may confuse your target audience.
Never underestimate the power of brainstorming, especially when it comes to stuff relating to your niche.
You’re the expert, and your journey in the industry must have exposed you to some knowledge. Use this knowledge to generate simple but effective hashtags that will drive engagements.
Pro tip: Search Instagram and other social media platforms to check if your hashtags have been used before.
If they haven’t been used, that means they are new, and you may have to modify them – especially if your brand is just rising in the ranks. Only established brands have a higher chance of success when it comes to inventing new hashtags.
Lastly, you can take advantage of Instagram hashtag generators like Hashtagsforlikes, Kicksta, and Ingramer.
Recommended Instagram Hashtag Tool: HashtagFox
8 Ways to Use your Instagram Hashtags for More Exposure
Learning how to use Instagram hashtags for more exposure is vital to your Instagram growth; these tips should help.
1. Complement your Insta Stories with hashtags
Yes, this has been mentioned before, but I am reiterating it to highlight just how vital it is.
Many brands fail to utilize the vast potential that comes with using hashtags in Instagram stories. They basically boost your exposure and push your content to more people.
Major brands like Nike, Fendy, Hublot – and the likes have perfectly mastered the art of using hashtags in Insta Stories – so should you.
2. Encourage your followers to use your hashtags
Sometimes, all it takes to get people to do something is to tell them. You can apply this logic by explicitly asking your followers and prospective audience to use a hashtag or a set of hashtags in their posts.
Think of it as a friendly call to action. You can throw in little incentives like mercs or shout-outs on our page. And you definitely should use power words to entice them further.
This will encourage existing followers to use your hashtags a lot more, thereby driving exposure for your content.
3. Stay away from Banned Hashtags.
Hashtags are incredible and all, but some of them are bad news. Hashtags get banned after multiple reports of bot spamming, abuse, association with inappropriate content, and basically anything that goes against the Instagram rules.
Posts with such hashtags become invisible to the Instagram community – they are hidden from the mainstream Instagram Feeds – and no one wants that because it would look like your post doesn’t even exist.
Plus, using too many banned hashtags concurrently may cause Instagram to flag or shadowban your account. In some cases, you may permanently lose the account. There’s no official list of banned hashtags, but know that there are probably thousands of them.
Banned hashtags are why you must research your hashtags properly before using them in your posts. To check if a hashtag has been flagged, head to the Explore tab, type in the hashtag in context and click on search.
If it is a banned hashtag, you will see this message above the posts, “Recent posts for this hashtag are hidden because some posts may not follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines.”
If you’ve noticed a dip in your engagements, you might be using at least one banned hashtag repeatedly. Edit such posts, find the banned hashtag and delete it.
4. Include hashtags in your first comment
This is a hashtag trick that many don’t know about. Posting your hashtags in the comment section rather than the caption makes your post look less bulky and unattractive.
It allows readers to focus on your post and caption instead of a horde of hashtags.
5. Leverage Trending Hashtags
Hashtags and trends are like bread and jam – they combine perfectly to give a satisfying outcome. Sometimes, hashtags may act as trends.
Almost every activity or movement on social media today comes with a hashtag – think of them as channels to exposure, especially when they start to garner attention on the internet space.
Leveraging trending hashtags is not a cakewalk, but it isn’t exactly rocket science – all you have to do is find the trending hashtags on the pages of leading figures in your niche and use them in your posts – that’s all.
A trending hashtag is your ride to exposure – one you cannot afford to miss. But just like a boat won’t take you to space, not every trending hashtag will take you to exposure.
You must choose hashtags that represent your niche, brand, or goals, or else your content will end up on the screens of audiences that can’t relate to it.
6. Avoid Using Repetitive Hashtags
Laziness gets even the best of us, and you may find yourself using the same old hashtags on every post. In simple terms, this is wrong – at least according to Instagram’s community guidelines.
The rules clearly state that posting repetitive content or comments, which may include hashtags, is wrong.
And you must do well to avoid being culpable. If you do this, the algorithm may flag your account as a spam station and therefore restrict the publicity of your content.
Repetition is a typical Instagram hashtag mistake, but now you know better. Always try to use new and relevant hashtags on all your posts – it makes your content unique and in sync.
7. Hashtags should always match your Instagram Posts
This point is a close cousin to the last one – and you will do well to stick to both. There’s hardly any one-size-fits-all when it comes to hashtags. So, always create unique and specific hashtags for your posts.
Repeating the same hashtags will not only alert the algorithm of possible spamming activity, but sometimes, such hashtags do not relate to the post in any way.
Imagine posting French fries but using hashtags like #burgerislife #pretzelsarethebomb, and #pizzalover – there’s absolutely no correlation.
Yes, your content may pop up in the timeline of IG users searching for content on those hashtags, but when they do find your posts, they may be disappointed and most likely will not engage it.
When it comes to hashtags, it is never about exposure to a lot of people. It is about exposure to the right audience, and using relevant hashtags on your posts makes sure of that.
Another thing worth doing is creating posts that awe readers, then add powerful hashtags to them. This way, you can have viral content. Because according to a stat, content that awe readers have a 34% chance of going viral. Adding hashtags to this type of content will increase the likelihood of making them viral.
8. Create Hashtags for your Business
Have you thought about branding your business with a custom hashtag? If you haven’t, then you definitely should.
Yes, it might be challenging to get a large audience to notice it first, but in combination with other generic hashtags, your audience will start to see a correlation. And before you know it, your custom hashtag is a symbol of your business.
Your brand hashtag should be catchy, relatively short, and must also relate to your business.
You can always add a little bit of humor, sarcasm, or fun elements that social media users love to feed on. Before you know it, everyone will be wondering, “Who came up with this hashtag?”
Instagram is an online jungle and knowing how to use Instagram hashtags makes you an apex predator.
Deploying the ideal hashtags will keep your content and page visible to millions of followers and prospective customers – all you have to do is understand the basics and avoid making mistakes that may affect your account.
Using Instagram hashtags the right way could lead to more Instagram likes, comments, followers, and improve the overall engagements.
This guest post was written by Olusola David. Olusola is the founder and CEO of Torchbankz.com, an eCommerce entrepreneur and blogger with keen interest in eCommerce. After starting his online business journey with Dropshipping, he now shares his trial and error experience of many years with new aspiring entrepreneurs. He writes about eCommerce, from starting a Shopify dropshipping store to building a sales funnel for your business.
Hero photo by Jan Baborák on Unsplash
How To Use Instagram Hashtags FAQs
Here are the ways to use hashtags effectively:
1. Use hashtags in your Instagram stories
2. Encourage your followers to use your hashtags
3. Make sure the hashtags you are using are not banned
4. Use hashtags in your first comment
5. Always use trending hashtags
6. Avoid repetitive hashtags
7. Create hashtag specific for your business
Hashtags are relevant words or keywords that are preceded with # sign. They are used to categorize all posts using the same hashtags. In this way, user will be able to easily find content relevant to the hashtag. On Instagram, hashtags are usually placed below the caption of the photo/video although it can be included anywhere on the post.
Yes, Instagram hashtags do work! They help in getting more exposure, engagement, and visitors to your content. In fact, a study shows that a post that uses at least one hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement than a post without a hashtag. This only shows that it’s worth it using hashtags on your Instagram posts. So if you are looking to grow your account or business, do not forget to use hashtags!
Hashtags are there to help increase your account’s presence on Instagram. You can get more followers on Instagram by using hashtags so your post will rank high for the hashtag keywords you used. If you use specific niche hashtags, you will increase your chance of finding your target audience. The key is to use relevant hashtags to your niche, not generic ones.
The best way to measure a hashtag’s effectiveness is by using Instagram hashtag analytics tools. It is quite hard to track it just by the Instagram app as it can only give you a shallow report of how many people are using the hashtag, and others. But with hashtag analytics tools, you will get to understand the performance of each hashtag you are using. In this way, you will know which is the best performing hashtag through comprehensive analysis and engagement rate.