Everything I Learned About Instagram Hashtags in 4 Easy Steps

Everything I Learned About Instagram Hashtags in 4 Easy Steps 


If Instagram isn’t part of your marketing strategy – it’s time you add it to your social media arsenal. I’ve spent the last year focused on using it effectively and I’ve been encouraged by its quick growth. One of the most powerful steps you can take is harnessing the power of the hashtag. Here’s how to establish a smart Instagram hashtag strategy in 4 easy steps.

1. Use popular hashtags 
Instagram allows you 30 hashtags per post. But choosing the most effective ones takes a little time and thought. Use an advanced analytics site such as Iconosquare (it’s free) to track the top hashtags on Instagram. The tool will also compare its list of popular hashtags to the hashtags you’re using. If your count is low, look for ways to incorporate more of the popular hashtags into your posts. This will put more eyeballs on your content. But be careful – don’t go crazy and overload or litter your post with hashtags. Make sure each one is relevant and adds value to your post – be smart, not spammy.

2. Use related hashtags
Don’t just find out which hashtags are popular on Instagram – learn which hashtags are popular in your industry and with your followers. If you’re a bookstore or library, it might be #bookfacefriday or #shelfie. If you’re a clothing store, it might be #instaboutiques or #fashiongram. Set aside some time to search and join the conversation. Check out your competitors and industry leaders. Pay attention to your followers. Grab the hashtags that are going to attract your ideal users and add something engaging to the content stream.

3. Use custom hashtags 
In addition to using popular hashtags and hashtags related to your field, you should also establish a custom hashtag unique to your business or organization. Take that even further and create hashtags for special events or promotions. To make the hashtag truly yours, do a little research first and make sure it isn’t really crowded. (As in, there aren’t a lot of users posting content with the hashtag that’s unrelated to you or your goals.) If you find it’s too cluttered, and you really want something that’s just for you, personalize it a bit. Add your city’s name or organization’s name or initials to the end. Make it memorable and easy to search. Stake your claim and dominate that hashtag by using it regularly.

4. Bring them all together 
Now it’s time to make all your hashtags one big happy family. Part of your hashtag strategy should be creating groups of hashtags that fit your most common types of content. My organization just recently opened a Makerspace (a community workspace with shared equipment such as 3D printers, a photo studio, laser engravers, and more.) I created promotional campaigns on Instagram leading up to (and during) the grand opening. For every photo I posted in these campaigns, I used the same group of hashtags. The group included a mix of popular hashtags, related hashtags, and my custom hashtags. Creating a good mix will really enhance and optimize your content.

Create groups of hashtags to use with related content or promotional campaigns.

Create groups of hashtags to use with related content or promotional campaigns.


Keep your hashtags handy
Since Instagram is mostly mobile, you’ll want all your hashtags handy. Save them to your phone. I save mine as an iPhone note. Others suggest a free app called Evernote  – which allows you to seamlessly access content from your phone or computer. There’s no sense in wasting time typing all your hashtags each time you want to post something. Just copy, paste, and post.

Try a contest
If you establish a unique hashtag – encourage your customers to post photos using that hashtag. Offer an incentive. It can be as simple as picking a winner and re-posting his or her photo on your feed. Iconosquare can help you with this too. It has an easy-to-use re-gram tool that emails you the new image to post on your feed. If you want to showcase multiple winners, use the Flipagram app (also free) to create a slideshow that you can then post to Instagram.

Applying hashtags strategically to your content is something you can start doing on Instagram today. It will give you immediate results and better engagement in the future. Are there hashtags you use that are particularly effective? Tell me in the comments below!

Opinions are my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of my employers past or present. 


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