How to Use Instagram Hashtags for Explosive Growth

We all know the importance of hashtags for Instagram marketing.

If you’re not using hashtags in your strategy you’re either too big to care (Hello Kim Kardashian!) or you’re ignoring an important method to drive more engagement and growth.

You may say, “but hey, I already used hashtags with my Instagram growth strategy and saw little to no results”. That may be true. There are a few common mistakes that prevent marketers from getting the most out of their hashtag strategy. Here are the top 5 mistakes that you should avoid if you want to grow your accounts faster:

#1 You’re not using targeted hashtags for your niche

Before starting using hashtags as a growth method for your Instagram accounts, you need to conduct thorough research to identify the best performing hashtags for your target market. You want to attract only those users that are interested in what you have to offer. Do some research to find the best hashtags for your business before you start using them with your posts so that you maximize your reach.  

#2 You’re using the most popular, generic Instagram hashtags like #love, #happy or #dog

This might be counter-intuitive, but sometimes using the most popular hashtags might not be such a great idea. Even if they are targeted, you might get a few likes or followers, but soon enough your posts will be buried by the avalanche of new posts that keep appearing under this kind of hashtags. So the second tip is to look for those tags with medium and even low popularity, where your posts can get the chance to be featured in the famous Top 9 section. The idea is to stay longer on the first page of those particular hashtags and get discovered by more people in the process. Getting in the Top Posts sections can even result in a huge network effect and make your posts go viral on Instagram.

#3 You’re not using 30 hashtags with all your posts

With each hashtag that you’re not using you’re missing out on a considerable Instagram reach. Think of all those people that are searching for each tag to discover new content/brands/people to follow. This is actually Instagram’s recommended method to grow your account and expand your reach: using all the allowed 30 hashtags with your posts. If you’re worried that it looks a bit spammy, you can just add them to the first comment on your post. This way your caption will look nice, and your message will be easy to read.

#4 You’re not “cycling” your hashtags

Just like with every other aspect of a marketing campaign, you need to test your hashtag, try new ones, and see if you’re getting better results. Using the same hashtags for all your posts might even make them inefficient after a while. The strategy here is to have a cheat sheet of about 60 – 100 hashtags and rotate them with your posts.

#5 Using branded hashtags can be a double-edged sword

Using branded hashtags is a good strategy when you are already a popular brand. Otherwise, it will just take the place of some other more useful hashtags that could bring you more potential followers and clients. And, of course, you don’t want to promote another brand by using their branded hashtags.


So, to be successful on Instagram, you need to start by avoiding these common mistakes.

You can use keyhole.co to research related Instagram hashtags starting from a very popular one.

Your goal is to get 500 related Hashtags. Save them in a CSV file to use as you craft your posts.

As you publish your Instagram posts, here are 3 basic rules to keep in mind:

  • Always use 30 hashtags with each post. No exceptions. If you worry that your posts will look “spammy” use 3 – 5 hashtags in your caption and the rest of the posts in the first comment.  
  • Focus on medium and low popularity hashtags, with a 5k-500k post count. You can go up to 1 million in some niches, but don’t go over. Make sure they’re not too unpopular either. They should have at least around 5k posts. Always use about 3-5 big hashtags. This will increase the number of likes you receive and help your posts get to the Top Posts section for lower and medium popularity hashtags. When in doubt, use the 80-20 formula: 80% of your hashtags should be low-medium popularity and 20% of your hashtags should be medium-high popularity. The less popular hashtags will be more likely to get you featured in the Top Posts section and the more popular ones that will help you boost engagement for your post.
  • Cycle your hashtags, don’t use the same hashtags on all your posts. The more you use the same hashtags the less effective they will be. 


Jenn Wise is an information technology enthusiast and AWS solutions architect. An innovative product, business development, and strategic operations executive, she is experienced in e-commerce, marketplaces, global expansion (APAC, EMEA, and LATAM), and leading innovation initiatives. Jenn is currently the Director of Business Development at Reactionpower.com. Her mission is to help busy tech and marketing executives get more done, particularly during fast-paced periods of challenge and change.

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