Instagram hashtags are one of those topics that generate all kinds of emotions among Instagram users. Some people love them, some people hate them. Some have a killer hashtag strategy, some others improvise.
But what is the science behind Instagram hashtags and how can you use them to reach your goals? I am covering everything you need to know in this post, including some do's and don'ts, so make sure to read until the end.
Table of contents
What are Instagram hashtags?
Before diving into the saucy bits, let's disclose what hashtags are because some people still think they are just a copy/paste bunch of words that everyone uses for the sake of it.
Hashtags are keywords or metadata used after the # symbol. They work with the social media algorithms helping them to index and deliver content to Instagram users. Hence, using hashtags on Instagram will help your post to be more discoverable by a wider audience and not just the people that are following you.
Instagram hashtags are the perfect way to increase the engagement of your posts and attract more followers. In fact, using hashtags on Instagram can result in an increase of 12.6% on engagement, or even more.
How do Hashtags work on Instagram?
When you're adding hashtags to your post, you are telling the Instagram algorithm to show your content to everyone that is looking for that hashtag.
The hashtag reach will depend on several factors including:
How popular your post is and how many engagements does it get from your own followers.
How many times has this hashtag been used on that day (Daily Average Post Count)
The total posts made with this hashtag
When you shared the post
Even though the use of hashtags has evolved a lot since they were first introduced back in 2011, they are still a very powerful tool that should be included in your Instagram strategy.
Using relevant, targeted, and very niched hashtags on your posts and Instagram stories is one of the best and easiest ways of getting discovered by new audiences on Instagram helping you reach your overall objectives.
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post and 10 hashtags per Instagram story. It's important to understand that there are banned hashtags that will kill your overall hashtag reach, but we will discuss these further along.
Some other things you should keep in mind when using hashtags are:
If you have a private profile your posts won't appear publicly on hashtag pages
You can use numbers on hashtags. However, spaces and special characters, like $ or %, won’t work.
You can only add hashtags to your own posts. You can’t tag other people’s photos/videos.
You can add hashtags either at the bottom of your caption or in the comments. More about this further down.
What are the different types of hashtags on Instagram?
Having a clear hashtag strategy on Instagram is key to building an audience and growing. There are several hashtag categories that you should be aware of before creating your hashtag strategy.
1. Community hashtags
Hashtags are being used to connect with like-minded individuals within the same niche. Community hashtags are a perfect way to connect with other creators that have your same passions. Remember building a strong community is one of the most important aspects of an Instagram strategy.
Some examples of community hashtags are:
#GirlsBornToTravel - For female travel bloggers
#SonyAlphasClub - For photographers that use Sony Alpha cameras
#SocialMediaManagerLife - For people that work as social media managers
Or even more specific like #NewYorkVegan for vegans who live in New York
2. Niche or Industry hashtags
These hashtags, as their name say, refer to a specific niche or industry. They tend to have a higher DAPC and a very high number of posts made. You must know what your niche is and research the most relevant hashtags in your industry.
Some examples of niche hashtags are:
3. Branded hashtags
Branded hashtags are usually ones that are unique to a brand (or personal brand in the case of an entrepreneur). It can be your brand's name, tagline, or anything that represents your brand's identity. I really don't recommend using branded hashtags unless you have built a strong and large community.
Some examples of branded hashtags:
4. Campaign hashtags
Hashtags that are used for specific campaigns like social movements, product launches, or special events. They are great for driving engagement in a short period of time.
5. Trending or Seasonal Hashtags
These are hashtags that are trending or hashtags that refer to real holidays, or seasons.
6. Location hashtags
Location hashtags are great for promoting local events or local businesses. People usually like to search for content in the city where they live. However, they can be quite general and might not end up serving your purpose. This is why you should include another keyword in front of the location to make the content more specific and discoverable.
When crafting your hashtag strategy, you should make sure to include a mix of these different groups of Instagram hashtags, as long as they are relevant to your content.