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How to Effectively Use Hashtags on Instagram

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When I reached out to other bloggers and influencers shortly after launching this site and asked them what they needed the most help with when it comes to Instagram, the answer was almost unanimous. HASHTAGS! Do hashtags really work? How do I choose the best hashtags? How can I use hashtags effectively to gain organic traffic to Instagram? Hashtags. Hashtags. Hashtags.

I’m going to start by saying that those of us who do a lot of research on these subjects, are still trying to figure out the secret to using hashtags effectively. It seems like once we think we’ve figured it out, and we see great numbers in our insights, suddenly Instagram changes the algorithm again and we’re sent back to the drawing board.

So instead of telling you that I have all the secrets (because I don’t think anyone truly does), I’m going to share what I’ve learned and what I’ve found to be the most accurate way to effectively use hashtags.

How to Effectively Use Hashtags on Instagram

Size Matters
When it comes to using hashtags, you want to choose those that have been used 200k – 1.5M times, if possible. Anything less and people are probably not searching them. Anything more, and you’ll get lost in a sea of posts.

Think of Hashtags Like a Google Search
When people browse Instagram and they’re looking for something specific, many will search hashtags. For example, if they are looking for vegan recipes, they might search #veganrecipes. If they’re looking for Halloween costumes, they may search #halloweencostumes. When you are posting on Instagram, think about what people might search to find that particular post. Those are the hashtags you should be using.

Do Your Research Before You Post
The thing that works best for me, is searching particular subjects before I post about them. Make a list of a few hashtags you want to use and search for the most popular posts in each of those searches. Look at the hashtags they are using. Click on each one, check how many times it’s been used and write down those that fall in the 200k-1.5M mark.

Think Outside the Box
Are you posting a picture of your living room? Do you have some decor pieces in there from a specific store? Use popular hashtags from that store. For example, Target hashtags tend to do well. Each big box store will have 1-3 hashtags that are used regularly. Posting a picture from your vacation? Use popular hashtags from that location, from the hotel chain, or from local attractions.

Switch Up Your Hashtags
The biggest mistake people make is using the same hashtags on every single post, regardless of what the content or image is about. Everything I’ve read says that Instagram will eventually stop showing your posts in those hashtags if you over use them. I can’t confirm or deny that, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t show photos that aren’t relevant to those hashtags.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use all 30
Instagram allows you up to 30 hashtags. If you’re only using a few, you’re missing out on possible traffic to your post. Use as many as you can, all 30 if you’re able to. The more you use, the more organic traffic you can receive.

Hashtags Bring Organic Traffic
If for no other reason, you should use hashtags to bump up your organic traffic. More organic traffic usually leads to more followers and more engagement. So if you’re looking to grow your Instagram account, hashtags are extremely important.

Looking for more tips for your social media? Make sure to check out our other posts. What would you like to learn more about? Comment below and let me know!

Everyone wants the key to getting more organic traffic on Instagram. At the top of my list, are hashtags. But are you using them effectively?




  • Kileen

    This is such an awesome post, so many great tips! Going to use some of these, so helpful!

  • Shayla Marie

    Okay, this post is awesome! I’ve been learning more about hashtags lately and I’ve been using some of these and they really work.

    I have a question though; what if your target market isn’t huge and the hashtags don’t fall in the numbers you gave here? Wouldn’t one have a better chance of being found by their target market if their post is only one among a few??

    • Heather Castillo

      From what I understand, niche hashtags are great for targeted audience, but will most likely not bring you a ton of impressions. So for quality purposes, absolutely use some of the niche hashtags with smaller numbers. But also use the larger ones to get the reach.

  • Tami

    I am working on rebranding. Knowing all the hashtag secrets will help me with the new traffic I’m looking for. Thanks!

  • Bella

    These are really great tips, thanks for sharing these.

  • Christa

    Instagram has been so difficult lately. Switching up my hashtags and using more sounds like great advice!

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