How to Find Good Instagram Hashtags
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Finding a good Instagram hashtag can be tricky, that's no secret. Content creators find themselves using the same hashtags as their colleagues from the niche but not experiencing the same results. In fact, they often complain about them not working at all! That being said, choosing the right hashtag can be crucial for your Instagram growth. Believe it or not - hashtags are still alive and well, and you should use them in every one of your posts. Even on Instagram Stories! Keep on reading as we lead you in the world of hashtags, how they work, and what's the best way of utilizing them for your Instagram growth. Bon Voyage!
Introduction to Hashtags: Purpose, Importance, Basics
What is the purpose of a hashtag? Hashtags are a way for Instagram to index your posts and stories, and to organize them in an easily-searchable & discoverable manner. Here is an example:
Let's say you wanted to post this picture of delicious donuts to your IG page. To have your picture of donuts appear amongst other pictures of donuts across Instagram, you'd have to hashtag it with #donuts or #doughnuts. That way, Instagram recognizes what your post is about, indexes it, and shows it to people who are searching for pictures about these lovely treats. The purpose leads us to the importance of hashtags. Applying the "right" hashtags helps you grow the "right" audience. Using the previous example - if you are a foodie blogger who specializes in finding the city's tastiest sweets, then hashtagging your post with #love won't do anything for you. Yes, that is a big hashtag that gets a lot of volume. But it has nothing to do with what your post is about, and soon you'll learn that the more is not always the merrier. Hashtags 101 - Covering Basics Here are some hashtag specifics you have to know about:
There is a limit of 30;
You can post without hashtags if you want, but you cannot use more than 30 in one post.
It doesn’t affect your visibility if you post them in your captions or the first comment;
It literally makes no difference where you place them. It all boils down to your preference.
If you post in the comments section, just make sure you post them RIGHT away after you publish your post.
The reason behind this is that you want to make sure everyone sees your post as soon as it goes live. If you wait too long to paste your hashtags to your comment, then you risk having your post clogged by newer posts that have gone up after you published yours;
Don’t use hidden hashtags - they can affect your visibility;
Yes, hidden hashtags are a thing! We wrote about them in our Instagram post, make sure you get all the details on it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-cbUgMgG0G/
Don’t use those that have millions of posts under them - your post will get lost amongst newly published pictures.
Avoid generic hashtags that have nothing to do with your posts and have heaps of posts under them. The chances of appearing in the Top Section of a hashtag are slight to non-existent. Unless you have millions of followers! An important note before everything else... Before choosing a hashtag, keep in mind that you should write your posts and use hashtags that are geared towards the audience from a specific region or a place in the world. For example, if you are based in Canada, the US, UK, or any other English-speaking country… then use hashtags that are in English! If you are using hashtags that are in a language your audience doesn’t speak - you’re not going to get any success with them. Why? Because your posts won’t show up to people who speak your language, but they will show up to those that do not speak your language. And you want to do it the other way around! Of course, if you live somewhere in the world where the language you speak is not the region you want to target - then write your posts and use hashtags in the language of the audience you want to reach! You can do whatever you want and target whichever audience you feel like it. The mere point was - don't be surprised your hashtags aren't working if you are not fully aware of what is the language your audience searches by! Top & Recent Section of Hashtags
Instagram categorizes posts under hashtags by the following criteria:
Popularity (Top Section)
These are posts got a lot of engagement both from the followers and non-followers of that account.
Time of Publishing (Recent Section)
These are the posts that have just been published in chronological order (from the newest to the oldest post).
Your newly published post will firstly appear in the Recent section. If it gets a lot of engagement, it can show up in the Top section.
One might argue that the goal is to appear in the Top section. Although that is the ultimate goal because the Top section gets the most views, note that as a content creator it is crucial to interact with posts found in the recent section as well. Engaging on both fronts will help with the discoverability of your account under a specific hashtag.
Let's say you are in the fitness industry. Since fitness is a market, your niche within that industry could be a variety of things!
For example, you could be specializing in helping students fit their workout schedule according to their university timeline.
A good hashtag idea for this niche is #fitnessforstudents.
Note: your posts should be filled mostly with niche hashtags! You want to reach the right audience, not just chase a meaningless number.
These are broader than niche hashtags. These fit wider topics connected to the theme of your Instagram account. Like #fitness in the previous example.
These are used to mark a community you would belong to based on the niche & industry of your hashtag.
Like in the previous example when we used the #donut to describe our donut photo, the same logic can be applied when describing physical items.
This is especially great when promoting a certain brand or service that you enjoy and want your (potential) audience to see.
When looking where to travel or what restaurant to visit, people also browse for inspiration on hashtags and not just geo-tags.
So make sure to always include a hashtag of your location whenever you publish a post!
If you don't know already, acronyms are an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word.
These are creative combinations of industry and niche hashtags. To paint a better picture, here are a couple of examples:
#sheisnotlost - female travel hashtag;
#poetryofsimplethings - creative photography;
#onthebedproject - office or flatlay photographs of items on the bed.
These could be hashtags of brands you promote or it could be a self-made hashtag that you use for promoting your own Instagram account. It can work both ways!
How to Find Hashtags
There are several ways you can search for hashtags. Here are some insider tips:
Typing in your niche or field of interest in the search bar on the Explore page of Instagram. This method births another one, which is:
Using the related hashtags feature on Instagram when you browse desired hashtags. Or:
Visit your competition and check out what hashtags are they using and what is working for them!
Visit websites like http://best-hashtags.com/ to get lists of hashtags you can use for your field of interest!
If you go to the explore page and type in a broader, bigger hashtag, Instagram will naturally suggest hashtags that are similar to the one you were searching for.
Bigger or smaller hashtags: does size matter?
A bigger hashtag is not always a better solution. Especially if you're just starting or your audience is still small.
Why is that? Well, the competition!
As mentioned before, hashtags have two sections for categorizing posts under them. People mostly browse through the Top section of a hashtag, not even noticing there is the Recent section.
The algorithm affects what kind of posts appear in the Top section. Those are the posts of people who have received high engagement on a post that is of high quality.
If you are using hashtags that have millions of posts on them, then you are just going to get swallowed by accounts that posted after you in the Recent section. And you most likely won't get to the Top section because no one will have enough time to spot your post under that hashtag.
That is why we did some research and came to a conclusion of what hashtag size would be beneficial for use.
We'd recommend you try using hashtags that are 10x to 100x bigger than the current number of followers you have.
For example, if you have 1000 followers, you can use hashtags that have from 10.000 to 100.000 posts on them.
A Hashtag Strategy: Combining Different Sizes & Types
We recognized there are different sizes and types of hashtags you should use to get the most optimum results.
A good hashtag strategy is to group your hashtags like this;
niche-specific hashtags - those that are strictly related to your field of knowledge. For example, if you’re a fashion blogger for plus-size models, a niche-specific hashtag could be #PlusSizeStyle or #PlusSizeFashion;
Moderate Industry hashtags - those that are kind of related to your field of knowledge and have a moderate audience size. Using the previous example, a moderate hashtag could be #FashionAdvice;
Broader Industry hashtags - very popular hashtags that have a broader audience size and are related to your niche. Again, using the previous example, you could say a broader hashtag could be #FashionInspiration.
Most of your hashtags should be from the niche-specific group. Use less of smaller industry and the least of bigger industry hashtags. It’s good to have them there, but the point is to attract a very specific audience that can be mainly accomplished by using hashtags searched by your specific niche.
Of course, you can always add location hashtags and product hashtags, if they are relevant to what your post is about.
The point of this hashtag classification is to group posts with the same topic. So use them wisely. Think hard about what your Instagram is about and make sure you only use hashtags that are relevant to your Instagram's purpose.
Make a list and test out what hashtags perform the best for you. It’s a waiting game of testing, trialing, and making mistakes. What works for you might not work for someone else. Be patient and publish your posts with location tags and at the time your followers are active. All of these, combined with hashtags, are what will bring well-performing results in the long run.