The world of hashtags seems to be a pretty straightforward one. But is it really as simple as it seems?

Allow me to take you through the world of hashtags and explain what they are, how they work and how to use them.

hashtags explained

What are hashtags?

Instagram made hashtags very popular, and they became the tool to explore the things you are interested in. You would use the hashtag symbol (#) followed by any phrase you can think of with no spaces. Anyone searching for that same phrase, or clicking on a hashtag with that phrase, has a chance of finding your post on that hashtag page. They become clickable on your post, so you can explore whether people using the same hashtags as you use it in the same way. You can also explore your interests and get inspiration from these pages.

If you’re still unsure about which hashtags to choose after reading this post, you can check my Hashtag research service. I can help you find the perfect ones for your business.

hashtag research

How do hashtags work?

Once you post your single, carousel, video or any other type of post, it’s out there (unless your account is a private one, but that’s a different story).

Now, anyone searching one of the hashtags you used in your post will be able to see your post under that hashtag page’s recent posts. If you decide to use one of the big ones (1M+), your post will pretty soon be pushed way down and basically undiscoverable. However, if you use a smaller one, it will be discoverable under ‘Recent’ for a few minutes (or more).

Depending on how people react to your post (if you get a lot of engagement from your audience and on the hashtag pages), your post might end up on the hashtag’s ‘Top’ page. That’s basically like hitting the ‘Explore’ page.

So, if Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags, try to use as many as possible. Why? Because there are more advantages than downsides to using them.

hashtags research

So, what does that mean?

Basically, the point is to use smaller hashtags (with less than 1M posts). Then, get as much engagement on the post to eventually reach the ‘Top+ page. I, personally, wouldn’t use those that have less than 5k posts. However, if your topic is very niche, you definitely can. The smaller the hashtag, the more likely you are to end up on the ‘Top’ page. Just make sure that this hashtag is something people search for.

And in terms of the number of hashtags you should use? Well, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri did say that hashtags don’t have as much value as they used to, and you should only use a few. Let me tell you why that doesn’t make sense to me.

If you use 6 hashtags, you will end up on 6 recent pages. That is 5 times less than if you used all 30. Imagine the potential viewers of your post if you used 6x more.

5 tips for using hashtags

  1. Use the ones that have between 5k and 1M posts.
  2. Use relevant ones.
  3. Don’t use spaces or punctuation in them.
  4. Don’t make them too complicated (over 3 words, unless it’s a common phrase).
  5. Use them as your keywords.

How do I know if they are working?

If you go to your post insights, you will see your reach from hashtags. If you have any views from them, that means it’s okay. However, if your reach from the hashtags is at least as much as it is from ‘Home’, you did an awesome job! Aim for that!

Moreover, you should know that there are banned hashtags. I wrote about them on Instagram in this “30 banned Instagram hashtags you never knew were banned” post. If you use one of those, your post will not appear on any of the hashtag pages. You can use different tools to check which ones they are.

Where should I use hashtags?

Some people use hashtags in the comments, but I definitely recommend using them in the caption. If you don’t write long captions and stick to 1 sentence, or even 1 emoji (I definitely recommend you start writing longer ones), you can separate them with a few dots separated by line breaks. That way they will not be visible on the first glance. I also don’t recommend using them in your Instagram bio, but more on that in another post.

influencer research

If you need help finding the perfect hashtags for your business (or private) page on Instagram, check out my Hashtag research service. If you just want to talk about this, you can send me a message.

Sincerely yours,