Hashtags are an art form. Using the right hashtags on Instagram is the most efficient way to create growth and engagement on your profile. Why? For posts to show up in search results, they need to be tagged with either hashtags or geotags. As more hashtags can be used than geotags, they are perfect for increasing your reach. Having your posts show up in the search results is the best way to reach a wider, potentially new audience.

A hashtag is, basically, a keyword that can allow people to find your posts. Their importance starts to make more sense when you imagine Instagram as a sort of search engine. Hashtags are your SEO.

Hashtags are SEO for Instagram Click To Tweet

There are people who refuse to use hashtags. If someone is running a personal Instagram, they may not need hashtags. If you are only interested in sharing day to day life with friends and family, then hashtags aren’t really useful. However, if you are trying to promote a blog or a business on Instagram, growth and engagement should be important. Avoiding hashtags translates to avoiding potential growth.

Related: 5 Ways to Grow Your Instagram Organically

Your blog NEEDS you to embrace hashtags on Instagram. Hashtags are the quickest way to grow your Instagram and increase engagement.

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So Why Use Hashtags on Instagram?

Reaching your current followers

When you post an image, it will be shown to those of your followers who will appreciate it most. This means not all your followers are likely to see your posts right away. If your post is not something they would specifically be interested in then, it may be placed quite close to the bottom of their feed.

You need to show Instagram that this post is something your followers will be interested in. Using hashtags tells Instagram what your post is about. This helps Instagram decide which relevant followers it should show the post to. More hashtags means potentially more followers’ interests may be included.

Followers will also be show posts which are getting high engagement in their network. Hashtags usually, not always, translate to good engagement. If your post receives good engagement from the offset because of its hashtags, it will be more likely to appear at the top of followers’ feeds!

Reaching new audiences

This is the most crucial reason to use hashtags! Hashtags are why your posts will show up on search results pages. When other people want to find new content, or are simply browsing Instagram, they’ll use hashtags to search. Using hashtags in posts on Instagram means you will be displayed in those search results, and anyone searching will see your post. These people aren’t following you, so they’ll be new to your content. If your post is relevant to them, beautiful and engaging then they may just like or comment. Better still, they may click on your profile and give you a follow!

Hashtags are the best way to reach new audiences on Instagram Click To Tweet

The Top Posts Section

Ever notice when you do a search on Instagram for a tag there are 9 posts that are stuck to the top? They’re the Top Posts for that tag, the most popular posts of the moment, the ones that are trending with that tag. Posts with really high engagement for a tag have a chance to get into those top 9 spots.

If you manage to get featured in these top spots, it’s likely that anyone searching for that tag will see your post and click on it, and very likely that they will engage. And guess what? You only have the chance to get in these spots if you use the relevant tags!

The Explore Page

How much do you know about the Explore Page on Instagram? Originally, this was a Popular Posts page, where Instagram featured the most popular images on its network. Everyone was shown the same content, no matter what their preferences.

It’s no longer a popular posts page for the entire network. In fact, it’s tailored specifically for your account. It’ll show you posts that use tags you search regularly, content similar to content you’ve liked before and content that people in your network have interacted with.

Get yourself landed on the Explore Page on Insta with some well chosen hashtags Click To Tweet

What does this mean for your blog or business growth? It means that if you use hashtags and encourage the right people to engage with you, you’ll have a chance of coming up in their followers’ explore pages. Managing to actually do this can send your post viral, especially if you can manage to get a large (but relevant) brand or influencer to like your post. Then, you may show up in their followers explore pages – that could mean thousands more people seeing what you’ve shared!

How Can I Use Hashtags on Instagram The Right Way?

There are a few things you need to do to ensure you’re using hashtags on Instagram the right way. It’s more of an art than simply copying and pasting all of the most popular hashtags into your posts.

1. Use relevant tags

Use tags relevant to your imagery and brand. Don’t put in #love just because it’s one of the most popular hashtags out there. Remember that people will be finding your image in search results, so they’ll be looking for specific things to look at. Using hashtags which don’t match the imagery won’t get you any additional engagement because if your post doesn’t reflect the hashtag, no matter how beautiful it is, the people searching will just scroll past.

2. Avoid useless or spammy hashtags

#followforfollow or #likeforlike are awful places to search. The people who use these are looking for quick and inorganic growth on their pages and posts. It’s so transparent and it doesn’t help you build your brand in any way. Most of the people who are posting here won’t reciprocate with the follow or like that they are asking for and these search results are full of pyramid scheme pitches, bot accounts, soft-core porn and spam.

Using hashtags is great, but the wrong tags will get you shadowbanned Click To Tweet

You don’t want to be associated with this sort of hashtag and it’s a surefire way to get your business account or your posts shadowbanned.

3. Use as many hashtags as you can

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. Try to use as many of your allowance as possible in order to reach as many accounts as possible. I aim to include 15-20 hashtags in every image I post, partly because 30 relevant hashtags can be hard to find for every image, but I feel that any less than 15 hashtags on Instagram will not get my posts the immediate engagement they need to give me my desired growth.

If you’re not sure what hashtags to use, I have a hashtag cheatsheet perfect for bloggers who want to grow their insta!

4. Use branded hashtags

There are hashtags out there that are ‘owned’ by brands. They keep an eye on what’s popular and what is being posted with these hashtags and will re-gram some of their favourite images! Try to find some branded hashtags that are relevant to what you post, because if you manage to snag yourself a re-gram you will be tagged and exposed to all of their followers!For larger companies and brands this could mean being exposed to thousands of new people and a surge in growth and engagement for you!

For larger companies and brands this could mean being exposed to thousands of new people and a surge in growth and engagement for you!

5. Use a combination of popular and less popular hashtags

Some hashtags have millions of posts, and some have tens of thousands. The most popular hashtags can get you a lot of immediate engagement, however, you won’t stay at the top of the search page for a very long time, so the engagement peaks immediately and then stops. That’s why, as well as the larger hashtags, you should try and find some smaller, relevant hashtags (50,000-250,000 lifetime posts) that you can include.

Using the smaller hashtags on Instagram can lead to engagement over a longer period of time – people will post to these less regularly (but also search these less regularly) so you will stay closer to the top for longer. Your engagement will continue for a few hours, maybe even a week – giving you more engagement directly from the tags and more of a chance to show up in those explore pages!

To Sum Up…

Like with any marketing tool, you need a strategy to truly be successful on Instagram. Hashtags on Instagram should be a part of that strategy! They’re the single best way to reach a wide audience for every image you post, because not using hashtags leaves your post to be spread by sheer chance and luck.

If you’re struggling to find hashtags for your blog, creative biz or niche – I’ve got you covered. Pop your email address in the form below and I’ll send you a FREE hashtag cheatsheet!

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