The Best Way to Hashtag on Instagram

I recently got an email with a clickbaity title asking rhetorically if hashtags were still worthwhile on Instagram. Putting aside the clickbait side of that, let’s nip that question in the bud right now and respond yes, hashtags are still well worth using in your Instagram posts. If you’re not convinced, do a few searches with hashtags to see all of the results, or just take a look to see that likely most of the accounts you’re following are indeed using them.

I always love an excuse for a tutorial, though, and there is a wrong way to use hashtags which will alienate potential followers, so let’s talk about the best way to hashtag on Instagram with your account.

The Best Way to Hashtag on Instagram

the best way to hashtag on instagram

Bury Them at the Bottom

Your post will trigger when someone searches for the hashtag you’ve included regardless if you put it at the start or end of that post.

Always lead a new post by providing more context about the image or video itself and including an @ to anyone else’s account as it relates to the post.

Second only to the media itself, this content is the most instrumental in generating social signals including likes, comments, and shares.

These are the most determining factors to help your posts/account to show up in front of new audiences in normal searches and recommendations.

After you’ve created the substance for the post, you can then include your hashtags below or after your final sentence.

hashtag space instagram

I prefer to include a few spaces between my content for the post and the hashtags at the bottom as this creates a bit more separation between the hashtags and the rest. It also makes for a cleaner looking, and not to mention a larger, post.

Walk the Hashtag Line

Remember that hashtags were created to help people cut through the noise and find what they’re looking for.

If you’re using dozens of hashtags, that’s a signal that whatever you’re posting is too broad. Like with anything online, if you can’t find your specific audience, you won’t have any audience.

Including too many hashtags can make your post look too broad even if they’re all related to the same concept.

What’s worse, including tons of hashtags looks spammy like all you’re interested in doing is marketing.

Instead, limit your hashtags to a few of the most relevant keywords related to that post.

Focus on Less Used Hashtags

If you’ve narrowed a potential hashtag to include in your post to a handful of similar options, search for each of them and see how many people are using them.

Bare in mind that the more popular ones typically garner more searches, but your post will get swallowed up by newer posts more quickly. This is true even if you’ve got an especially clickable image or video.

Less searched for hashtags yield two benefits: they allow you to get more relevant with the hashtag itself and they will give you longer visibility before they get buried by a slew of new posts using the same hashtag.

That especially clickable image or video pays higher dividends the more time your post can enjoy near the top of the search results.

Also remember that just because a hashtag is being used less by other Instagram creators than a contextually similar one, this doesn’t mean that it’s going to yield less searches.

Here’s an example where hundreds of thousands of posts are using the hashtag cajunfood, but only roughly 2000 posts are using cajunrecipes.

Granted these are two different concepts, but you can imagine the demand for the cajunrecipes hashtag searches far outweighs the usage, making this an undertapped hashtag for any creators in the cajun food niche.

You can find gold in a hashtag that a lot of users are searching for but many creators aren’t using. Hashtags are similar to keywords and SEO in this way (see how to know what keywords to use for SEO).

The Shorter the Better

That last rule comes with a caveat.

Sure, that 10-words-in-one-hashtag is laser focused, but is anyone searching for it?

The shorter the hashtag, the better.

Only Use Relevant Hashtags

I include this one late because it should be self-explanatory. There’s no better way to guarantee you don’t get any new engagement on your posts than by including irrelevant hashtags.

Make sure that any hashtags you include are in lockstep with the media of the post itself.

In Summary

Hashtags are still worthwhile on Instagram when used properly.

The best way to hashtag on Instagram is to:

  • Keep your hashtags laser focused and relevant to the media of your post(s).
  • Limit your hashtags to just a small few per post to keep them relevant and avoid a spammy look.
  • Use less popular hashtags to take advantage of more relevance and more search visibility.

Your main focus should be on generating more engagement (likes, comments, sharing) on your posts. This will garner you more followers than anything else.

You can do this by creating quality content first in the media itself of your posts, and in the content surrounding it secondly.

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