How To Effectively Use Hashtags On Instagram

Jun 2015
Photo Credit: @weheartit

If your business is active on Instagram but you aren’t seeing much growth, incorrect use (or lack) of hashtags may be to blame. Using hashtags on your photos is an effective tool for expanding your reach and gaining new followers, but many business owners don’t understand how to use them. Not using hashtags or using them ineffectively will stunt your growth on this social media channel. Let’s take a look at how hashtags work and how to utilize them to grow your Instagram account.


Hashtags 101

It’s important to understand that hashtags work differently on every social media channel. On some social media channels hashtags are irrelevant, on others, such as Instagram, hashtags play a much bigger role. With the limited functionality of Instagram, the only way to find new content is to search for specific users, or to search general hashtags. For example, if you were looking to connect with beauty bloggers and interact with their content, you might search the hashtag #beautyblogger. Hashtags help to organize and categorize content on Instagram to make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. Thus, if your content lacks those identifying hashtags, it is unlikely new users will stumble across your profile.


How To Use Hashtags

To include hashtags on your Instagram posts, simply include them in the caption section of your post. Remember to always include the hashtag symbol or the tag won’t work. To add hashtags to previous posts, simply edit the caption to include your hashtag or add the hashtag in the comment section of that post. Hashtags do not include spaces, and they cannot include special characters, like !, $ or %, but they can include numbers. It’s important to note that you can include working hashtags only on your own posts and if your profile is private, any posts you’ve added hashtags to will not come up in search.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into how to use hashtags effectively.


  1. Be specific. In order to find the right audience for your brand, be more specific with your tags. If your product is mineral foundation, don’t just use the tag #makeup; try using a tag like #mineralfoundation instead. Specific hashtags will allow you to put your content in front of your target clients. Creating a custom hashtag for your business can be a valuable tool for brand awareness, and can help potential clients easily find content about your business.
  2. Keep your tags relevant. It’s proper etiquette to use hashtags that actually relate to the photograph you are posting. Think of how frustrating it would be to search for a particular topic only to find a bunch of irrelevant posts.
  3. Do some research. Find successful Instagram accounts that are similar to yours and take a closer look at the hashtags they use. Some hashtags do better than others and chances are the more successful accounts are using more lucrative hashtags.
  4. Choose your hashtags wisely. Using vague hashtags, such as #beach or #book, can guarantee that your content gets lost in the mix, but if your hashtags are too complex, such as #readingabookatthebeach, no one will find your content.
  5. Don’t go overboard. Instagram allows you to tag your photos with up to 30 hashtags. Most social media professionals would agree that 30 hashtags is overkill. That being said, using too few will also put your content at a disadvantage. As a rule of thumb, stick to a handful of hashtags for each post.


If your goal on Instagram is to expand your reach and grow brand awareness, your content must include hashtags. Utilizing hashtags will not only help you grow your Instagram account, but it will also help you reach your target audience.

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