How to utilise Instagram hashtags effectively

This is a guest post by Gareth O’Sullivan (his bio is at the bottom of the post) – you can also write for us!


Do you use Instagram for your business?

Are you wanting to increase your reach and engagements on the platform?

If so, this blog post will come in very handy! There are over 600+ million Instagrammers that are active on a monthly basis, with 400+ million of them being active daily. That’s a huge number! Without using hashtags, you lose the chance of increasing your reach on Instagram which will result in less engagements.

Take note of these tips to not only increase your reach and engagements, but also to help grow your following with a targeted audience.

What are hashtags?

Hashtags are a specific metadata tag which are used on various social networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. There purpose is to allow users to find specific content and messages easier.

You’ve probably already come across a hashtag before, but here’s an example of one.

#DigitalMarketing

Instagram adopted the use of hashtags on their platform after they were originally invented by Chris Messina on Twitter. Due to this, the Instagram community have been able to find and interact with lots of content that would have been much harder to find. If you aren’t utilising them effectively, you could be missing out on lots of engagement, follower growth and even website traffic!

TakeawayHashtags are a metadata tag originally invented by Chris Messina. They are used on various major social networks to help users identify content easily.

How can I identify suitable hashtags?

Finding hashtags is very easy, but finding targeted hashtags that get a lot of engagement can be a challenge! Before you go out hashtag searching, I’d suggest you do some research first to get the best results.

You need to understand what hashtags are working well for your competitors and industry influencers. If you know your competitor handles and/or a few industry influencers, go ahead and look at their content and find the hashtags they are using. If you are struggling to find influencers on Instagram, you can utilise tools such as Buzzsumo. After finding the hashtags they are using, create a list and add them.

Once you’ve done the above, you’ll then be able to search for more specific hashtags related to your industry and what your customers are likely to use.

For example, let’s say you run a cafe and are looking to target people who are interested in coffee. The first few hashtags that would probably come to mind would be: #cafe #coffee #coffeelover, but with over 600+ million Instagrammers, your content might just get lost in those hashtags.

Why? Well they’re very common and sometimes overused. You won’t have a great chance of standing out unless your content receives lots of engagement and get featured in the “top posts” section.

So because of those reasons, you’ll need to also think of long tail keywords, or other similar related keywords. This is very easy, yet not many people actually do this.

When you start to type a hashtag into Instagram’s search, it will list other hashtags that other Instagrammers tag their content with. Identify the suitable hashtags and add them to your list.

Once you’ve done that, I’d recommend you to click on a few of those hashtags and look at the “Related” hashtags, add some of those to your list, then click them and look at more “Related” hashtags etc, keep repeating that process until you have gathered around 30 hashtags. (Instagram’s hashtag limit)

Providing your content is catchy, engaging and you are utilising hashtags in your posts, you’ll start to see even more engagement.

Takeaway: Research hashtags that your competitors and top leading industry influencers use. Identify the types of hashtags your ideal customer would likely use. Utilise Instagram’s search function and related hashtags feature to discover new potential tags.

How many hashtags should I use?

As the saying goes, the more the merrier. By using as many hashtags as you can, you’re likely to maximise your engagement than if you were to only use 10 hashtags. Keep in mind, the hashtag limit on Instagram is 30, however that’s more than enough to help you increase your reach and maximise your engagement.

For the accounts I manage, I usually include anywhere from 20-30 hashtags per post. Don’t worry about the amount of hashtags looking too much, as you can easily tidy them up as mentioned in my next point.

Takeaway: Try to use a larger number of hashtags in your Instagram posts to reach a larger audience and maximise engagements.

Editor’s note: At Schedugram, we typically recommend people aim for 20-25(ish) hashtags as some users experience higher error rates when you use 30 for every single post. However, some of our customers use 30 every time, so it seems to depend on the Instagram account and hashtags used, so it is worth experimenting!

Where do I put my hashtags?

It’s entirely up to you where you want to put your hashtags. You could either place them in your caption or alternatively, placing them in the comments section.

I personally would recommend adding the hashtags as a comment as it makes your content look cleaner. You won’t have a ton of hashtags on display when looking at the caption, and to see the comments, you’ll need to click “View all comments”.

Here’s an example of an Instagram account I manage.

As you can see, the caption looks smart and doesn’t consist of lots of hashtags. That’s because I’ve added the other hashtags as a comment.

If you use Schedugram, you’ll be able to add a comment with your scheduled posts. This feature is very helpful and I’m always using it, you should too!

Takeaway: Enter your hashtags as a comment to keep your caption clean and professional.

Conclusion

Identifying suitable hashtags can be quite hard work and time consuming, but the results are worth it. If you really want to succeed at something, you should focus and go all in at it.

What other strategies have you used to grow your Instagram and reach a larger audience? I’d love to know, leave a comment below.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or tweet me @_GarethG!


About the author

Gareth is a versatile digital marketer and blogger with experience on various social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. Gareth also writes various blog posts like this one. You can follow and stay connected with Gareth on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also contact Gareth directly on his site.