Instagram Hashtags: What They Are, Which Ones to Choose, and How to Use Them

What They Are

There is a right and wrong way to use hashtags. They aren’t just cute anecdotes added to a photo, they are an indexing system to help your potential customers find exactly what they are looking for – you. We want to help you learn how to find and use the hashtags that will connect you with the audience who needs your product or services. Using the right hashtags will help to get you “found” which allows them to enter your Marketing Funnel in the first place.

Which Hashtags to Use

The most important thing when selecting your hashtags is to think about your ideal audience and words they might be searching for. Don’t include made-up words and phrases or terms you use internally for your business. So many times we use hashtags that may attract other people doing the same thing we do, but not necessarily customers and clients.

For example, if you sell bath products, use #pampernight rather than #bathbubbles. Or use #planningtips rather than #agenda if you sell planners or organizational software.

Spend time coming up with various groups or list of hashtags. When we are creating an Instagram strategy for a client, we rotate through what we call content buckets or different categories for your business. For example: About the Business, Behind the Scenes, About the Product/Service, My Community, Tips, and About Me.

Within each of those buckets we create subcategories. Let’s take Products for example:  Most likely you sell more than one product category so you will have multiple sub-categories there.  When you talk about the products, you might also talk about the making of the products, how/where they are used, top items, how to care for the product, etc.

Right there you have several different groups that all need different sets of hashtags.

How to Use Them

Here are a few tips to help you properly use your hashtags…

Tip 1: Mix it Up

You want to avoid using the same groups of hashtags every time because it shouts “botty” to Instagram, which they don’t like. Plus, you want to be sure you are using hashtags that are relevant to the image or content you are sharing.

You’ll want to vary the size of the hashtags based on their usage. For example, include:

  • 2-3 hashtags that are around 1-3M
  • 3-6 around 1M
  • 3-6 around 500K+
  • 4-8 less than 500K

Avoid hashtags over 5M because your content won’t likely make it to the top of many user searches. And if it does, it won’t likely stay there for long.

Try coming up with 20-25 hashtags per category.  You can use up to 30 per post, but you also can just pull the 10-15 most relevant ones from your 20-25.  It’s easier to have more ready then try to research on the fly. 

Tip 2: Interests

Think about tags that are relevant to your business then add a neighborhood, or city to it (#tucsonflorist). You also don’t need to be so literal with what you are posting about. Think about the emotional side like (#flowerlover).  What your ideal audience desires and what their interest are (#flowersinbloom).  By adding in more lifestyle terms you can open up some new hashtags that will help you connect with your ideal audience.

Tip 3: Utilize Suggestions

When you click on a hashtag often Instagram will give you related hashtags to that hashtag. (see example below from Instagram’s desktop version.

Make sure when you are choosing ones, you look at the top and related posts to make sure it makes sense to use for your biz. If people that are using that hashtag seem like your ideal client (rather than another business like yours) then it could be a good one to use. 

Tip 4: Get Inspired By the Competition

If you are feeling stuck, try looking at what your competitors or people that might also have your ideal audience following them are using. Don’t blatantly copy them or use all of the same hashtags. Instead, look here for inspiration, then make it your own. Make sure the hashtags you use aren’t overly saturated and are still relevant to you and your brand.

Tip 5: Check-In

Ideally, look at your hashtags each quarter and give them a refresh. There are tools out there that can tell you which hashtags you are using the most vs. which ones are getting the most engagement.

For example, for our business, the hashtags #digitalmarketingtips or #entrepreneurialmindset historically get more than two times the engagement than when I use #smallbusiness tips or #onlinebusiness.

You can pivot your strategy based on the data!  Don’t forget to use the most engaging ones in your IG Stories too!

Do you have questions about using hashtags in your marketing?  We offer 1:1 sessions where we do it all with you so you can learn exactly how to find and use the #hashtags that connect you with your ideal audience. And if you aren’t up for learning, we can also do it for you! Reach out to us today!