These words or phrases preceded by the pound or hash sign have gotten quite popular over the past few years, and for good reason! They can be an important part of your social media strategy, they can get your content in front of more people, and they can help you reach new followers interested in your niche.
Today we’re focusing on hashtags on Instagram, and in this post, we’ll help you shape your hashtag strategy, find hashtags, and effectively use hashtags on your Instagram posts.
Let’s dive into the wonderful world of hashtags, shall we?!
What are Hashtags
Simply put, a hashtag is made by adding a hash (#) in front of a word or phrase. You can create a hashtag out of any word or phrase, so it could be as simple as #food or as complicated as #thisisthebestchocolatecakewithchocolatefrostingyouwillevereat.
Instagram hashtags are typically placed directly below an image caption, and they’re clickable so users can explore the other content tagged with the same hashtag. Here’s an example:
View this post on Instagram
Hey-oh, #poysugarfreejanuary…where your candy at? So glad you asked! Here! Here! Quick, sweet, creamy almond butter cups with no refined sugar. A legit treat you can feel aces about.⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Get the recipe —> https://pinchofyum.com/almond-butter-cups⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #chocolate #dessert #vegan #vegetarian #whatveganseat #plantbased #plantstrong #healthyrecipeshare #cleaneating #eatclean #realfood #eatrealfood
If you click on #chocolate, you can see all of the other photos across Instagram that have been tagged with the #chocolate hashtag listed in reverse chronological order. So if I posted a photo tagged with the #chocolate hashtag right now, it would show up in the very first position in that archive feed. It will move down the feed as more photos use the #chocolate hashtag.
It’s important to note that if you want to get all of the benefits out of hashtags on Instagram, you need to have a public Instagram account. If your account is private, your images won’t appear in the hashtag feeds, which kind of defeats the purpose of using hashtags in the first place!
How to Use Hashtags on Instagram
There are a few tips and tricks that you can use to maximize your chances of your hashtags working for you and your posts.
Which Hashtags Should You Use?
So you’ve decided how many hashtags you’re going to use on your posts, but how do you choose the hashtags you’ll use? The #milliondollarquestion!
First of all, make sure that your hashtags have enough interest so that people will find you through them. Remember how those hashtag archive pages are listed in reverse chronological order? A hashtag like #foodphotography has been used over 48 million times on Instagram, so if you use that hashtag on your content, chances are no one will see your post because it’s too saturated. Something like #vegandesserts is a bit more specific and has only been used on ~200,000 posts. You have a much better chance to get discovered if the hashtags are a little less popular.
That said, a hashtag that’s too specific isn’t very helpful because people won’t explore those hashtags. Take #yumtownpopulationme, for example. It only has 52 posts. Using that hashtag probably won’t help you get discovered.
You want to use a variety of hashtags, some bigger and some smaller. Ideally, you want your post to show up when people click on a hashtag, but you don’t want your post to get lost in a sea of other posts. You’re aiming for that perfect balance of popular, yet not oversaturated.
Changing gears a little bit, branded hashtags can help build your brand and encourage your followers to tag you and that hashtag whenever they make one of your recipes. For example, if you check out #pinchofyum, you’ll see nearly 16,000 posts from people who have made Pinch of Yum recipes, and that’s because Pinch of Yum specifically asks its readers to use that hashtag when they post on Instagram at the bottom of each recipe.
It’s all about building that brand recognition and creating a community on Instagram.
Where Should You Put Your Hashtags?
Hashtags can either go in your caption or in the first comment below the post. Some people like to leave the caption nice and clean and move the hashtags to the first comment, others like to include them all together to make it easier.
It’s 100% up to you, but if you decide on adding your hashtags in the first comment, there are certain tools that can automatically do that for you like Sprout Social, or you can manually comment on your post after you publish it.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use?
You can use up to 30 hashtags on each of your posts on Instagram, but does that mean you should use 30?
Well, it depends. The most infuriating answer. 😉
Some people see more engagement using all 30, others find that 10–20 hashtags is their sweet-spot and appears less “spammy.”
Our advice? Experiment and see how many hashtags work for you. We tend to err on the side of more hashtags per post, but it’s worth experimenting for a few posts to see what works best for you.
There are a few different ways you can find different hashtags to use on your photos. The easiest is just to look at what hashtags other bloggers in your niche are using for ideas. Of course, it’s important to do your research before you just copy them all over to your posts, but it’s a good place to start.
Instagram allows you to follow hashtags as you do users, so you might find it helpful to follow a few of the hashtags you typically use to see what kind of content within that hashtag performs best. The content that’s tagged with the hashtag you follow will appear in your main feed.
To follow a hashtag, simply search for the hashtag on Instagram, click the hashtag, and click Follow.
Did you know it’s good practice to switch the hashtags you use on Instagram every so often? It’s true! If you continue to use the same hashtags over and over again, it can make your content and your account look “spammy.”
Luckily, this is a really easy thing to avoid by mindfully choosing different hashtags for each piece of content. And if there are certain hashtags that you repeatedly use for each post, it makes sense to switch up up every now and then.
Keep Track of Hashtags
We love keeping a list of our commonly-used hashtags in the Notes app on our phones or in an app like Planoly, just so they’re easy to access whenever we’re ready to post. There’s no need to remember each and every hashtag you use on your posts; write them down so they’re easily accessible in the future.
Hashtag usage on Instagram can feel a little overwhelming, but it’s a huge part of a successful Instagram strategy. The right hashtags can help you reach more people, grow your following, and help you establish your brand, so we encourage you to really dive in and solidify your hashtag strategy!
🎉 And if you’re interested in learning more about fine-tuning your Instagram strategy, Food Blogger Pro members get access to our Instagram for Food Bloggers course where Lindsay and Bjork chat through Pinch of Yum’s Instagram Playbook and the decisions they make before posting any content on Instagram. 🎉
Now let’s chat: How do you choose your Instagram hashtags? How many hashtags do you use on your Instagram posts?