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The truth about Instagram hashtags

The truth about Instagram hashtags

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Katherine George, Instagram hashtags, Facebook trainer

When I wanted a blog post about how to use Instagram hashtags, there was only one person I was going to turn to. My friend Katherine George, who owns Oh So Social Marketing. Katherine is a Facebook She Means Business Trainer – she’s done the exams to earn this accolade!

So, settle in and let Katherine tell you all you need to know about Instagram hashtags!

You’ve seen them everywhere on social media, and no more so than on Instagram, but what exactly is a hashtag, and why do we use them? Hashtags on Instagram are a really important way of getting your business seen by more of the right people. So let’s shed some light on how they work, answer some frequently asked questions and share best practices for making the most of hashtags for your business.

What is an Instagram hashtag?

To put it simply, hashtags are a category. They are a way to categorise and catalogue your content. so it is absolutely crucial when you select the hashtags for your latest post that they are relevant to what you’re talking about. For example, if you’ve posted a photo of a cute kitten, then the last thing you want to do is use the hashtag #puppy. That’s just going to annoy people who are looking at the #puppy content!

People on Instagram use hashtags to filter the content to what they want to see – whether that’s puppies, fashion, photography, travel, baking, sport – the list is truly endless. Using relevant hashtags on your posts will help more new people see your content who are interested in what you and your business has to say.

The truth about Instagram hashtags – hashtags are a way to categorise and catalogue your content. Click To Tweet

Is there a magic number of hashtags to include in a post?

The most common question I get asked about Instagram is: how many hashtags is best to include in a post? In Instagram, you can use a maximum of 30 hashtags and it is really important to make sure you use all 30.


Think of hashtags as real estate; these are 30 chances to get your profile and content seen by new people, your existing customers and followers, as well as people who care about what you’re talking about. Using the full 30 hashtags is a key way to achieve organic growth on Instagram.

30 hashtags sound like a lot but don’t panic. You don’t have to use an entirely different 30 every time! I always recommend selecting your hashtags based on the rule of thirds.

The truth about Instagram hashtags – you should use all 30 hashtags on your post. Find out why in this post! Click To Tweet

The first third

A third of your hashtags should be constant and used for all of your posts; these should be based on what you want to be known for and what you want to be found for. For example, my business Oh So Social is a social media marketing agency, so we use #SocialMediaExpert, #SocialMediaAgency and #SocialMedia and other related hashtags on every Instagram post.

The second third

The next third of your hashtags should be about the picture you’re sharing. So, if you’re sharing a picture of that cute kitten, you would be using #Kitten, #Cute, #CatsOfInstagram, and so on.

The last third

The final third is your vanity and trending hashtags. These regularly trending hashtags, such as #MondayMotivation, #TravelTuesday, #WednesdayWisdom, #ThrowbackThursday, #FridayFeeling, #Caturday and #WeekendVibes, as well as anything topical that’s trending, will help pull your content into the bigger feeds and expand the reach of your posts. We have a full list of the regularly recurring trending hashtags and our ultimate social media calendar available to download on the Oh So Savvy website.

Have a core list of Instagram hashtags

Having lists of core hashtags you use regularly will save you a ton of time when creating your Instagram posts. There are many ways to do this: you can email them to yourself, save them as notes, or use scheduling software. We use Agorapulse to manage our own and our clients’ social media and the beauty of this software is that not only can we save our hashtags, but we can also save them in different groups.

We have core hashtags for each client, as well as by theme, such as Cornwall, Food, Business – you get the idea. You can sign up for two months free trial of Agorapulse to try it for yourself.

Do your research

So how do you find the best hashtags for your business? Research is key. Spend some time on Instagram browsing the popular hashtags related to your sector and the app will also suggest related tags for you to try too. It’s also wise to use some hashtags that are less popular, as your content is less likely to get lost in an ocean of content, but be warned – always check your niche hashtags are actually being used by other people first!

Another top tip is to check that your hashtags are appropriate for your business. Your new chosen hashtag might sound entirely innocent, but have a completely different meaning you hadn’t thought about, so always click through to the hashtag feed to scroll through the images and check for any surprises that might damage your brand reputation.

The truth about Instagram hashtags – you'll only find the right ones by doing your research. Click To Tweet

Caption vs. comment

There is so much debate and conflicting information around whether you should place your hashtags in the caption of your post, or separately in the comments. Instagram is owned by Facebook, and as a Facebook Blueprint Lead Trainer, I receive updates and best practices direct from Facebook HQ. So here’s the answer from Facebook themselves: hashtags should always go in the caption! This gives your posts the best chance of achieving the most reach and engagement.

Is it all working?

Finally, we always want to make sure that what we’re doing on social media is working. Check the insights for your posts on Instagram, as you can see how many people have found your content from the hashtags you’ve used. If you use social media software, such as Agorapulse, you can go a step further: you can see the amount of engagement each hashtag you use gets. Test different hashtags and see what works best for your business.

I love the way Katherine has broken down how to use Instagram hashtags. I hope this makes it easier for you to find the ones that will make your posts a success.

Ready to make your mark?

If you like this advice, you’ll love The Marketing Morsel Club! I’ve created it just for business owners like you. Every week, on a Tuesday, you’ll receive a bite-sized, practical email to help you with your marketing.

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2 thoughts on “The truth about Instagram hashtags

  1. This is a great post, thank you so much Minal and Katherine! I heard someone else suggest you have about 10 different hashtag lists of about 12 hashtags each, with not too many repetitions from one block to another, and that you rotate them constantly, to avoid the algorithm considering you a spammer and penalising you… This sounds very stressful.

    I tend to do mine a lot more like you suggest, plus I created a couple of hashtags that no one else is using so far.
    So I’m not sure I got this right, you suggest using 30 hashtags on a single post? Golden rule used to be 11 a couple of years ago… Thank you both!

    1. You’re welcome, Simona. It is challenging when so many people are saying so many different things. Katherine gets her information directly from Facebook as she’s been trained by them. It is always good to experiment and see what works best for you.

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