Jenn Herman
August 21, 2014

How to Create an Effective Hashtag Strategy for Instagram

instagram hashtag

This is the eighth post in a 12 month series on the use of Instagram for businesses.

If you’re using Instagram for business, then you really should be incorporating hashtags into your posts. The simple act of adding the right hashtags can drastically increase the reach of your posts, boost engagement, and allow you to reach new audiences. And when your customers use your hashtags on their posts, you can see how they are connecting with your products – and even find quality user generated content to share with your audience.

But to make good use of hashtags on Instagram, you need to have the right strategy. Just using the occasional hashtag or using the wrong ones can actually hinder your progress and growth.

Here is what you need to know to create an effective hashtag strategy for Instagram.

Don’t Use Too Many – or Too Few – Hashtags

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. But that doesn’t mean you should be using that many! Depending on your brand and your audience, you will likely find a sweet spot between 5 and 10 hashtags per post.

Using less than 5 hashtags limits the number of searches in which your post will appear. But using too many looks spammish and can annoy your followers.

Use Relevant Keyword Hashtags

Your hashtags should include relevant keywords that are associated with your post. If you sell jewelry, including tags like #gold, #jewelry, #fashion, and #gemstones would be considered relevant.

These should relate directly to the item or content in your post.

Use Industry Related Hashtags

Your hashtags can also include keywords related to your industry. If you work in the social media marketing industry, you can use tags like #socialmedia, #socialmediamarketing, #onlinemarketing, and #smm.

You can look and see what your competitors or others in the industry are using. You don’t necessarily want to copy them but if certain tags work really well, you might want to incorporate those into your posts too.

As long as the hashtags are related to your business or your industry, they are worth including in your related Instagram posts.

Use Branded Hashtags

You should definitely have at least one branded hashtag related to your business. For example, I use two: #jennstrends and #LearnFromJenn. If you haven’t yet determined one for your business, take time to do so!

Use these branded hashtags on your post captions to establish the brand recognition. You can even include them in your post images for added branding.

Combine Popular and Less Popular Hashtags

In order to maximize your hashtag search results you should incorporate a spectrum of hashtags with different levels of popularity. Using the more popular hashtags will get you fast results immediately but your posts will soon be lost in the archives of that popular tag. Less popular hashtags may not produce quick results but your posts will live longer in search queries and produce longer-term results. Mixing in a variety of these will ensure you get the best of both!

Repost Your Hashtags

A strategy that I heard from Sue Zimmerman is to put your hashtags in a comment (not the original caption). Then every once in a while, you can delete that comment and then repost the hashtags back into a new comment on the same post. This reintroduces your post back into the top of the hashtag searches.

Save Your Hashtags

If you use the same key hashtags or have a set of preferred hashtags, create a list on your mobile device with these hashtags. Then you can simply copy and paste them into your Instagram post caption when uploading.

Don’t Hijack Hashtags

For all the good that you can do with hashtags, you can do serious brand damage by using the wrong ones. Don’t use popular hashtags that have nothing to do with your business. Using #sunset just to show up in a search when your post has nothing to do with a sunset is annoying. The same thing goes for #justinbieber and #KimKardashian.

Similarly, if there is a trending or current event, don’t hashjack that tag just to get seen. Stay relevant and appropriate to your audience.


Following these tips, you can definitely see better results from your Instagram efforts. Don’t forget to try different things and run tests. Depending on you, your product or service, and your audience, hashtags will work differently for you than others. Find what works for you and put it to good use!


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Jenn Herman is a social media strategist and Instagram advocate who writes a blog focused on understanding trends in social media management. She provides tips, resources, and training for small to medium sized businesses that need to structure their social media strategies for success. Her business background includes Administration, Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing. If you would like to learn more about how to use Instagram, you can download "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Instagram" here.