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How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Published March 29, 2024

Mastering the art of hashtags can be a confusing process even if you’ve been using Instagram for a while. Whether you’re a budding influencer, a popular brand or just someone who wants to share their posts with the world, understanding the strategic use of hashtags can significantly improve your Instagram game. Consider this article your go-to guide where we show you how to use hashtags to ensure that your content doesn’t just exist, but thrives throughout the platform.

What Is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is more than just a pound sign followed by a string of words. We see them all the time across social media platforms, to the point where we may not even notice them on a post. Hashtags are a dynamic tool that categorizes content, making it discoverable by a wider audience than your current following list.

When you use a hashtag, your post becomes searchable under that term, placing it within a stream of content shared by other users who have used the same hashtag. This is why hashtags are indefensible for anyone looking to post their visibility on Instagram.

Instagram Hashtag Best Practices

  • Be Relevant: Hashtags should always be relevant to the content you’re posting. Irrelevant hashtags not only confuse your audience but can also deter potential followers who feel misled.
  • Research and Rotate: Before you start throwing hashtags around, take your time to do some research. See what hashtags are trending within your niche and what your competition is using. Avoid using the same hashtag on every post. Rotating them keeps fresh eyes on your content.
  • Use Niche Hashtags: While using broad hashtags such as #foodie or #travel can get your content noticed, niche hashtags will help you connect with your targeted audience. For example, #glutenfreebaking is more specific than using #baking, and will draw in a niche crowd.
  • Pay Attention to the Hashtag Limit: Did you know Instagram has a limit on how many hashtags you can use? Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to use that many everytime. It’s recommended to use a mix of 5-15 hashtags per post.

What Not to Do

When there are do’s, there are don’ts. Here’s what to avoid when using hashtags on Instagram.

  • Avoid Overused Hashtags: As you research what hashtags you SHOULD use, you’ll find ones you shouldn’t. For example, extremely popular hashtags can make your post get lost in a sea of content. Striking a balance between popular and niche hashtags can provide you with better visibility.
  • Don’t Spam: Using hashtags that don’t relate to your content in hopes of gaining more visibility is a definite don’t. It can frustrate users seeking relatable content and make you lose credibility.
  • Stay Away From Banned Hashtags: Instagram bans certain hashtags associated with inappropriate content. Using these can hinder the visibility of your posts, or lead to an account suspension.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

  • In the Caption: Seamlessly integrating hashtags into your post caption makes them less intrusive.
  • In the Comments: Posting hashtags as the first comment is a common trick to keep your captions clean while still utilizing hashtags.
  • Instagram Stories: Don’t forget that hashtags can be used in Story posts! Including them can help you increase reach and engagement.
  • Hashtag Sticks: For an interactive element, use hashtag stickers in your stories. They are clickable, and add a fun, engaging layer to your content.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that hashtags aren’t going anywhere, and you should be using them to the best of your ability. A well-placed hashtag can be the the difference between 100 likes and 10,000 likes.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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