How to use Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram isn't Twitter, where once you get bored, you just tap on a hashtag and get entertained with 1000's of relevant tweets. Instagram is built in a way that you can eat through hours of content and still not get bored. If you go on the explore page, it's almost like Instagram knows you more than your parents know you. It provides an infinity amount of posts that are tailored just for you.

This leaves us with a very important question, how do we use hashtags on Instagram? Or more importantly, how can we hack growth using hashtags?

10 ways to use hashtags properly

  1. To take advantage of viral content. For example; remember Harambe the gorilla? Well if you were posting about that, then having #harambe in the caption/comment would have been a very good idea. This is because accounts that use bots aren't that active or responsive, and it takes time for a lot of them to realise that a particular hashtag is viral, to then add it to their list of automatic spam.
  2. To follow and curate content. If your account is like @dailycatvids, then you need multiple sources of content. Instagram's recent update has allowed us to follow hashtags, which make posts appear in your feed just as if you were following a user. 
  3. Another tip for curative accounts is to create your own hashtag, to allow followers to use and tell you which posts they'd like for you to repost. For example; I should create a #AsadRepost hashtag and instruct in my bio "Use #AsadRepost to be featured".
  4. Don't bombard your post with 30 of the biggest hashtags going. Instead research hashtags relevant to your niche, and carefully add them to your caption or comment section. This is because users have the ability to now follow hashtags, if they see a post popping up in their feed irrelevant to the hashtag they're following, they can report it. If you're using 30 hashtags and get reported often enough, you can welcome a ban coming right to your face. This will mean you get a few bots liking and engaging but, if your content is good enough, you'll get  alot more humans than bots.
  5. If you research hashtags and they start to work for you, don't just copy/paste the same hashtags on every post. The algorithm is cleverer than that and will penalise you. This laziness will mean your posts slipping into hashtag feeds that are irrelevant.
  6. I beg you, please don't use hashtags like #like4like #likeforfollow #followme. Why do you think they would work?
  7. Choose hashtags that expand on your brand or profile. For example, Little Spoon (a baby food company) uses tags like #littlespoon #babyblends #freshbabyfood #organicbabyfood as well as it's own campaign hashtags like #itsfreshbaby and #nomoreoldbabyfood
  8. Definitely add hashtags that describe your ideal follower/customer. Little spoon uses; #girlmom #boymom #babyontheway and community hashtags like #motherhoodunplugged #letthembelittle #dailyparenting.
  9. Stories. Did you know that hashtags and locations have their own little story attached to them? You can join a hashtag story by adding a Hashtag when you're creating your own story. If the algorithm likes you, you'll be added.
  10. When your hashtags are made to measure, Instagram recommends hashtags for you to use too. This can be found in the "Following" section. Normally this shows the users you're following, but now you can click "hashtags" and it will show you a full list of all the hashtags you follow, and should follow. This list is important because you can use it to find users to engage with, and hashtags to start using.

I'm sorry, I know on my instagram post (below) I said "Don't use hashtags" and then I went ahead and wrote this whole article on ways to use them. I did this because I want you to forget what Instagram hashtags were, and have a completely new approach to them.


A post shared by Asad Shah (@mr.asadshah) on


Fact: I used the word hashtag 28 times in this article

1 comment

This was actually very helpful.
I will start looking into it as I had no idea that hashtags could be used like this as well.

Rabiyah S. August 18, 2018

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