When I first started using Instagram, I used no hashtags whatsoever. Then once I got to know how effective they could be, the problem turned into how to actually use them. I always see lots of accounts who know exactly the right hashtags to use to make them the most visible – but what I noticed more was that they seemed to be using the same ones over and over.
At the end of last year I decided to completely revamp my Instagram strategy and boy, has it paid off. There are a few things that have contributed to my growth on this platform, like good editing and thoughtful captions. But the thing that has made the biggest difference has got to be hashtags.
Now, I feel confident enough with Instagram to tell you that if you use hashtags, you’ll see an increase in your likes, followers and engagement. So today I wanted to share with you what I’ve learnt about hashtags, how to use them and the best ones to use. Here we go.
How do you use hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase used in a way to categories your photographs so they are grouped together. This means that people can find related posts really easily and it makes it great for when you’re looking for specific things too. Hashtags always need to start with a # - other punctuation, spaces or special characters will break the it and stop it from working.
On Instagram they’re automatically detected when your post is published and you can tell this, because they show up blue. Then you or anyone else can tap on each hashtag to be taken to a page that shows all other photos uploaded that have used that same one. This lets you find like-minded people to connect with and interact with to help grow your community.
One of the most important things to remember is that hashtags can be very specific (#handinframe) – search that and all the posts that appear definitely have a similar theme. There are more generic ones, such as #bloggers or #ontheblog, but some people have even taken to creating Instagram communities and hashtag projects, such as #thegramgang or #darlingmovement. Using hashtags like these in your posts tells people that you are part of certain communities on Instagram and allows you to connect with others in that community.
Using hashtags on Instagram in the right way
The easiest way to tell you to use hashtags would be to just add any relevant tags to your post.
Actually, it’s a little more in-depth than that.
For starters, I always say to add your hashtags as a comment that is separate from your caption. You want your caption to stand out, so doing this means the impact won’t be taken away from it and the hashtags that you use won’t show up in your followers’ feeds, which some people can find annoying.
You can also go one step further to make hashtags work for you in the best way possible. I got this tip from Steph who runs #TheGramGang.
First, here’s a big tip for you:
Create a note on your phone with the hashtags you use most often. For me, there’s two groups of hashtags I used. That way, you don’t have to try and think of which ones to use every time you upload a photo – you can just copy and paste them into a comment, and refine them every so often.
Then before your hashtags start in your note, you want to add five bullet points and hit return after each one so each bullet point rests on a different line. That way, your hashtags will start underneath your fifth bullet point. This means your hashtags will be completely hidden, making it a lot prettier for your followers to scroll through Instagram!
So in a feed, your images should look something like this:
What hashtags should I use?
There’s no secret formula that works for everyone. It totally depends on you, what you blog about and what your purpose is for using Instagram.
You've got to think about what specifically your post or image is about and what tags might be useful to people. Don’t use broad ones like #girl #selfie or #beautiful. Think about it – those generic hashtags are going to be swamped with thousands of images every single minute. How much do you think your image will stand out?
Instead, try and use specific community-focused hashtags. Keep them relevant and appropriate.
One of the best ways I come up with new hashtag ideas to use is to look at what my favourite people on Instagram are doing. What hashtags are they using? Keep a note of them. They’re a great way to discover new inspiration and if you’re using the same ones as people who blog about similar things to you, then you know you’ve got a bigger chance of being seen by the right people.
Now you won’t see results overnight. But the more you use hashtags (and the more you use the same ones), the more people are going to become familiar with what you post. Usually when you’ve explored hashtags, you find some favourites that always work for you and I’ve definitely found that mix.
So here are the hashtags I’m using at the moment that continually grow my Instagram presence.
P.S if you want easy access to these, make sure you pin the image to keep it safe
One of the last things to remember is that Instagram only lets you use 30 hashtags at a time. If you use more than that then a little red exclamation mark will appear and your hashtags won’t count. So make sure you’re keeping track!
You can also start your own hashtag! I use #BloggingBreakthrough in all my blog-related Instagram posts because I’ve got the #BloggingBreakthrough eBook as my free opt-in offer. This is a great way to raise your profile and engage in your community.
So there you have it – your guide to everything you need to know about hashtags. But remember, it’s all about your imagery. The better your image, the better it will do. Add the right hashtags to that and you’re onto a winner.
I hope this post has been useful for you. If you're on Instagram, you can find me at @abranchofholly
Do you have any favourite hashtags, or a hashtag project of your own? What tags do you tend to use most? Will you try out some of the ones listed here?