They are not going anywhere ever since Twitter came to life. Hashtags have only been more and more adopted by more and more platforms. And Instagram grew to be on top of that game not too long after hashtags were introduced on there. Right now, hashtags are by far the easiest way to get noticed on social media. The idea couldn’t possibly any simpler – you use words to organize content much like you do when you put photos into albums or files into folders.

Hashtags could be broadly divided into two categories – branded hashtags and community hashtags.

  • Branded hashtags are tied to a specific business. They are an amazing marketing tool, effective like not many others. All the posts with this hashtags added to it can be tied directly to a specific user, whether that’s a business or an individual. So the bottom line is: do your best to establish and push a hashtag (or a few) that are unambiguously related to your brand. One other amazing use of branded hashtags is getting user generated content (UGC) which then can be regrammed, liked or used in any different way. Here’s an example where you can see how #sephora has over 5 million posts. You can also see that the variations to the hashtag have some pretty decent numbers attached to them as well:


  • Community hashtags are used by anyone and everyone and are not connected to a specific user in any way. Some examples that fall under this category are commonly used words and phrases. The most popular hashtags of this sort are #me, #fun, #food, #sun, #tbt, #instagood, #love, #girl, #summer, #dogsofinstagram, #ootd etc. Of course, some are much more used than the others, but the point stands – they can be applied to virtually unlimited number of different types of content.

How to discover relevant hashtags?

Slapping a bunch of hashtags under every post and hoping to see your engagement go up can hardly be called a tactic. Since any single word or a combination of words can be a hashtag, one very important question that’s raised is how to identify the ones that will actually help you get the engagement rates and visibility up. There are two broad approaches to answering this question:

  1. Tools: There are specifically designed tools that help you discover the hashtags that will work best for you.
    1. Hashtagify is the most popular one. While it isn’t specifically tied to Instagram, it can offer some pretty useful information and inspiration. It offers a range of expressions related to a seed word you enter.
    2. Focalmark is much more focused on Instagram in particular and offers you a variety of phrases you can use for the particular post you’re working on.
  2. Research: The second route you can take is doing your own research. This, of course, takes more time, but is more likely to provide you with even more relevant ideas.
    • Start off by typing in a few words that seem intuitive to you and see what other hashtags are used alongside those under posts, since hashtags more often than not come in bunches. Look for patterns in engagement  – which ones seem to generate more likes and comments compared to the others.
    • Never forget to check out what your competitors are doing. If there are business or individuals whose presence you especially like (or who are your competition in the traditional sense of the word) make sure you give their posts a scroll and see what are the hashtags that appear fairly often. And again – keep your eyes open for patterns in engagement rates they’re getting.
    • Look at how popular each one is by seeing how many posts there are with that specific hashtag. Opt for the ones which are neither the most popular nor the most obscure ones. If you choose the ones with many millions of posts chances are your post will get buried and won’t get in front of many people, and if you go for the ones with a couple of dozens posts that probably means no one cares about it. The rule of thumb is that the more niche your hashtags are the more engaged the users that look them up are (even though the audience is obviously smaller). Iterate and figure out what’s your magical number of posts per hashtag.
    • Don’t ignore the autofill feature. You’ll notice that once you type in a word, a few similar ones will appear as well. Check those out since chances are that you won’t think of all the possible varieties.

How many hashtags should you use?

The maximum number of hashtags allowed is 30.  But even though Instagram is very hashtag friendly, this doesn’t mean you should max out on every single post. This is simply because you won’t be able to tell which ones work and which ones don’t. A good starting point is checking out what’s the standard number of hashtags in the field or industry you’re interested in. Then try putting a few more or a few less than that and see what happens. Posting reasonable amounts of hashtag will allow you to identify what works best. If you want some type of number to start from – posts with 11 and more hashtags tend to perform best, but keep in mind that’s an average number, meaning it varies greatly from theme to theme.

The fact that you’ve found the hashtags you want to include, means that you’ve found the audience that is likely to enjoy your content. Now remains the task of getting them to notice you and hopefully join the followers camp. And how do you do that? Engage with their content to let them know you exist! So, when you’re ready to do that, let Archie handle all the manual work for you.

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