How do you use hashtags on Instagram to grow your community?

November 19, 2019
min read

How do you use hashtags on Instagram to grow your community?
According to a study by Sprout Social, Instagram posts with at least one hashtag generate about 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. So using hashtags on Instagram is really helpful if you want to grow your brand's page.

Using the right hashtags is also one of the best ways to get discovered by new people interested in your brand's topic. Combining the right hashtags with inspiring content can ultimately lead to more engagement, followers and hopefully more sales.

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Each Instagram caption can be accompanied by up to 30 hashtags. Depending on the topic or category of your posts, there is always a group of relevant hashtags. By using the right combination of hashtags, your post will be categorized and distributed to people interested in the same topic or subject. It is not only relevant to put hashtags on your feed posts, but also on your Instagram Stories. That way, you'll get even more exposure. As you can see, using hashtags is a great way to reach new people who are not yet following you. Here's a guide to getting started using hashtags on Instagram:

1. Find the most effective hashtag

There are a few handy ways to find the right hashtags. Always look at what your competition or accounts are doing on the same topic and what hashtags they are using. The general rule is: the more niche the topic is, the more conversation and engagement there will be around it. So it is important to find hashtags that generate a lot of engagement, but at the same time are very niche. When you type a certain keyword in the "tags" search section of Instagram, you will also find recognizable hashtags. You will have to do some research on those to see if they are part of the big ones or the more niche ones. There are also some tools to help you find relevant hashtags. has one, is one of them,… Another resource where you can find the right hashtags for your posts is by looking at what relevant influencers are using.

2. Use more niche hashtags

Instagram has "top posts"; on the hashtag pages (and this also determines whether your post will be visible to people who follow that particular hashtag. Top posts are posts that get a lot of engagement (likes, comments, saves, etc.) within the first two hours of posting. You can see how much engagement you need to get highlighted. With popular hashtags, that's a lot. Try to find hashtags that are more niche, so it's easier to come up on the page with top posts.

3. Follow these hashtags on Instagram

Instagram added a feature in 2018 that allows you to follow relevant hashtags. That way, you always know what has been posted on social media about the topics you or your brand covers are interested in. It's a way of social listening that many people haven't thought of yet. This also means that people now automatically get your posts on their feed when they follow a hashtag you've used.

So it has now become even more important to have the right relevant hashtags in your posts, but it also means that your posts absolutely have to be good, since people now have the option to "don't show this post for this hashtag." can also put hashtags in your bio. What's so great about this feature is that it makes your bio even more functional - you can use hashtags for everything from promoting your Instagram community to highlighting your brand content and announcing your Instagram campaigns

5. Organize your hashtags

The best thing you can do is save the hashtags you use somewhere, such as in your notes or on a spreadsheet. You can put 30 hashtags on each post, and it is recommended that you use all 30. Make an extra effort to find at least 60 relevant hashtags. Create different groups of hashtag combinations so you don't always use the same ones.

There used to be a belief that if you kept posting the same hashtags on every post, Instagram would "ghost" you and the algorithm would make sure your posts were no longer visible. However, that fact has never been proven. The theory behind this is that if you keep posting with the same hashtags, you will be flagged as "spam." Especially if you use generic engagement-driven hashtags like "likeforlike," for example.

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It is good to have groups of hashtags that include some large hashtags, some medium and some very specific ones. The large ones are hashtags like the generic ones. For example #throwbackthursday #tbt, #ootd, #foodporn… They are usually used thousands of times a minute, so chances are you will disappear from the explore page within seconds.

So it's important to mix it up with medium hashtags and very specific hashtags for your topic. So for example, if you post a picture of your cat and you really want to make your cat Insta-famous, using really general hashtags like #catsofinstagram will not make your post very visible. After all, the hashtag has been used more than 117 million times. Using a smaller hashtag like #instakitty works a little better, as it has only been used 2.8 million times.

Smaller hashtags or very specific hashtags (such as #pdxpets = 28K) work well because you are reaching an audience that is already very engaged with the topic.

6. Evaluate your hashtag strategy

With an Instagram Business profile, you can view the statistics of your post. If you hit the insights button, you can see how many people your post reached and how many of them came through the hashtags. However, one of the drawbacks here is that you can't know which hashtag was the most successful. Tools like and allow you to track important insights about the hashtags you use, including a breakdown of which hashtags generate the most likes, comments, impressions, saved items and reach on your Instagram posts.

Knowing which hashtags are most effective in getting your posts discovered is extremely beneficial for businesses. It can help you refine your hashtag strategy by eliminating the hashtags that are not producing results, while doubling down on those that are.

Finally, hashtags are still very useful for building your community, as long as you do your best to find the right hashtags and do your research to find your niche. Leave the generic and cheaper options for what they are and look for specific ones. It is a process that takes time, but as a community builder, it is a very useful tool.

Article by Celien Feys, social media manager at Chase Creative.

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