May 19, 2014

One of the most common questions I get about Instagram is how to use hashtags on Instagram. Especially if you're using Instagram for your business, it's imperative that you have a well formulated hashtag strategy. You may have taken the time to craft a viable Instagram strategy - deciding what your goals are, how often you're going to post, and what you're going to post. But if you aren't properly using hashtags to support your strategy, it's going to take you a much longer time to reach your goals.

I've written previously about how (and when) to use hashtags on Instagram and if you haven't read this post, I recommend you check it out now. Then come on back here to find out how to create a successful hashtag strategy.

For those of you who don't actually read the other post, here's a quick summary:

  • Use relevant keyword hashtags
  • Don't use too many hashtags
  • Use industry related hashtags
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Don't hijack hashtags

Ok, so now you know how I recommend you use hashtags on Instagram.

All of these points are very important if you are using Instagram for your business. Tagging your photos with #justinbeiber or #tagsforlikes isn't going to help you grow your business any faster. And just because Instagram lets you use up to 30 hashtags per post doesn't mean you should.

In fact, doing these things can make your brand look worse.

Using irrelevant tags purely because they're popular makes you look desperate for attention. And slapping a ton of hashtags into a post just makes your caption that much longer and difficult to read.

Instead of following "popular" hashtag tactics, here is how to create a successful hashtag strategy on Instagram.

Use Brand Specific Hashtags

Create unique hashtags for your brand or business. These should be something that represents what you do or defines you uniquely. For example, I frequently use #jennstrends (my business name) and #LearnFromJenn (describes that I educate) in my posts. You may already be using your unique hashtags on Twitter or other sites. Use them on Instagram too!

Your hashtags should be easy to remember and unique to you. Include them in all (or most) of your Instagram posts related to your business. When you post content that isn't business specific (maybe a photo of your family or something around your city), you don't have to use your business hashtags.

Determine Your Industry Related Hashtags

Each industry has some variety of hashtags associated with it. From product based businesses to service based businesses, existing hashtags are out there. Find them, know them, use them.

Check out your competitors and other companies in your industry or niche to see which hashtags they use. Check for popular hashtags on Instagram by checking the site Tags For Likes. Please be selective when using these suggested tags though - the site gives you long lists of hashtags for different industries and I don't think you should simply copy and paste all of those listed. Instead, find a few that work for you and add them to your list of hashtags.

Combine Popular and Less Common Hashtags

While you might think it's best to only use popular hashtags, this is a mistake. Yes, you want to use popular hashtags to increase your chances of showing up in popular searches. However, if it's a popular category, everyone else is doing the same thing and your post will disappear quickly into the depths of the search results.

Instead, incorporating less common hashtags will ensure that your posts "live" longer in the search results. Mixing in a variety of popular and less popular hashtags ensures you get the best of both worlds!

For example, I tag my blog post notices with #socialmedia (which produces hundreds of thousands of results), #socialmediamarketing (which produces thousands of results), and #socialmediatips (which produces hundreds of results). By covering all three ranges, my post's visibility is guaranteed to be higher than if I only used one of the tags.

Know How Many Hashtags to Use

As I've said, using all 30 hashtags in your post captions is too much. If you have that much to say, you're either confused or desperate. Instead, choose 5-10 targeted hashtags for each post. Sometimes you might be able to justify using 12 or 15 hashtags and that's fine. But, in general, keep it under 10.

To make it easier on your followers to read, you can incorporate the hashtags into the sentence, like this: Today's #blog post is about how to use #hashtags in your #socialmediastrategy. Or, if you prefer, you can simply list all of the hashtags at the end of your caption.

Create Lists of Hashtags

On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram.

Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It'll also make sure you don't leave any out!

Now you have what you need to create a successful hashtag strategy on Instagram. Following these tips will help you get more reach out of your Instagram posts, help you grow your audience and drive more traffic.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Hi Jenn,

    Perfect. I need to integrate tags into my campaign, so many travel photos but I’m learning to target my audience with effective HT usage.


    1. Thanks Ryan! You have so many photos that could reach so many more people with good use of hashtags. Make sure to use hastags related to travel, the locations, and the items/places in the photos.

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