Instagram #Hashtags: Use Them, Don’t Abuse Them

Instagram Hashtag Guide

By now, you probably know what a hashtag is. In fact, the word “hashtag” was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014. But in case you’re still unfamiliar with hashtags, let’s give you a quick rundown: a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign that is used to identify specific posts, conversations or topics on social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.

Hashtags are essential on high-discovery, visual platforms like Instagram because they allow businesses and brands to post content to relevant topics to expand their visibility. However, some brands tend to abuse this strategy by adding a whole slew of hashtags. To avoid a big blunder, I’ve compiled a few pieces of advice to live by when using Instagram hashtags for your brand:

Less Is More

While Instagram allows brands to utilize up to 30 hashtags in each post, this has become more of a faux pas among social media enthusiasts and marketers. In theory, adding a bulk number of hashtags can put off some users because it looks spammy. Personally, when I see an Instagram picture with an inch of hashtags trailing the caption, I scroll right by, even if the image is compelling. Bulk hashtags can overload the caption and diminish the quality of the post. Instead, stick with 5-10 hashtags per post. If your brand has a larger following on Instagram (1000+), opt for no more than five hashtags, but make sure they are relevant. If you’re still trying to grow your brand’s following on the network, it’s permissible to use a few more hashtags, but round them out at about 10 or 11.

Volusion Instagram post

Research Relevant Tags

Instagram recently updated its app to include a more detailed explore and search feature. By simply hitting the Search bar, you can look for specific users, hashtags and places. The Explore feature also shows you the top trending hashtags and some of the most popular posts within those hashtags right on the homepage. If your post relates to any of those trending tags, it might be beneficial to use them when you publish your photo or video.

If you’re looking for more specific or niche topics, start typing in the Search bar! Instagram will aggregate a bunch of results—from related hashtags to users you may want to follow. It also tells you how many people are using those hashtags. Obviously the more people using it, the more chance you have of being seen. Using this Explore feature is key in determining which hashtags brands should use to gain more exposure.

Hashtag search examples

Hashtags as a Tool for User Discovery

As explained above, hashtags promote discovery and can be used to scope out influential users. Users with a lot of followers and a highly engaged follower base typically show up at the top of the hashtag feed in a designated section. If your brand is looking for brand ambassadors or bloggers to promote and review your products, Instagram can be a huge help. All you have to do is find your most relevant hashtags through searching and then take a look at some of the top posters. If you find a user profile that embodies your brand, you can use a direct message or comment to contact them about talking more. Just make sure you’re following them first :)

Popular All-Encompassing Hashtags

Along with using relevant, brand centric hashtags in posts, it’s also considered a best practice to participate in weekly, daily or even monthly conversations that are open to all users. These hashtags typically have a very active follower base and can be used to get more engagement on posts. Some of these include:

#MotivationMonday – 1,245,722 posts
#Motivation – 62,118,571 posts
#TipTuesday – 36,972 posts
#WayBackWednesday – 887,058 posts
#WBW (Way Back Wednesday) – 464,963 posts
#ThrowbackThursday – 36,038,137 posts
#TBT (Throwback Thursday) – 348,379,400 posts
#POTD (Pic of the Day) – 20,184,735 posts
#Inspo (Inspiration) – 3,810,650 posts
#FlashbackFriday – 9,623,835 posts
#FBF (Flashback Friday) – 12,313,439 posts
#SundayFunday – 18,354,244 posts
#WorkLife – 1,266,401 posts

Now that you have this handy little Instagram hashtag guide, you can’t go wrong! Have questions or comments? Leave them below!

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