up your instagram hashtag game
Illustration of 3 bubbles, one with menu lines, one with a heart, and one with a hashtag. There is a light blue background with a squiggle behind these items.

Written by Marin Hudson

December 7, 2022

Marin is a community-minded designer who finds joy in all things creative, and in connecting and supporting others. From designing an annual report to crafting the perfect pizza, she thrives in collaborating with a team to make ideas come to life.

Written by Marin Hudson

December 7, 2022

Marin is a community-minded designer who finds joy in all things creative, and in connecting and supporting others. From designing an annual report to crafting the perfect pizza, she thrives in collaborating with a team to make ideas come to life.
Illustration of 3 bubbles, one with menu lines, one with a heart, and one with a hashtag. There is a light blue background with a squiggle behind these items.

An effective brand strategy connects with your target audience and seeks to reach new people who will benefit from your services and support. Social media is an excellent, cost-effective way to expand your reach, but it requires strategy, thrives on mysterious algorithms, and demands engagement. One important piece of this never-ending puzzle? Let’s chat about Instagram hashtags.

Umm…what’s an Instagram hashtag?

A hashtag starts with the “#” symbol and ends with a combination of letters, numbers, and sometimes emojis. Usually made up of 2-3 words, hashtags help make your content more discoverable by categorizing it and making it searchable. Anyone can click on a hashtag to find similar content and discover new accounts.

Why use Instagram hashtags?

Instagram hashtags are a great way to connect with your online community and encourage people to engage with your brand. They can also contribute to brand recognition, but ultimately, their main goal is to expand your Instagram reach.

When using hashtags, your post will then appear in a search for that hashtag, on a page for that hashtag, or in the feed of someone following the hashtag. This means people beyond your followers have a chance of finding your post.

How popular should my Instagram hashtags be?

It’s best to include a mix of more and less popular hashtags to get the best reach. It’s easy to get lost in really popular hashtags that have been used billions of times, but it’s also tough to reach people with a hashtag that’s only been used once or twice. When you type in a hashtag, it will show you how many times it has been used. From there, pick a few hashtags that align with your brand and will increase your visibility with large and small audiences.

How to pick an Instagram hashtag

Instagram organizes hashtags into nine different categories:

  • Product or service hashtags, such as #FoodTruck or #BrandDesign
  • Niche hashtags, such as #OntarioCreatives or #NonProfitsOfOntario
  • Instagram Community hashtags, such as #NonProfitsOfInstagram or #DesignersOfInstragram
  • Seasonal hashtags, such as #NationalDonutDay or #ReadyForWinter
  • Location hashtags, such as #HamOnt or #MadeInHamilton
  • Day-specific hashtags, such as #ThrowbackThursday or #MondayMotivation
  • Relevant phrase hashtags, such as #GetCreative or #BuildYourBrand
  • Acronym hashtags, such as #FBF for flashback Friday or #OOTD for outfit of the day
  • Emoji hashtags, such as #BreastCancerAwareness🎀 or #😎

How do I know what hashtags will expand my reach?

Try to look at hashtags your audience and competitors are already using. Mix in some of these with a few of your own. Adding a branded hashtag that is specific to you can help your followers keep up with what you’re doing, such as #BrightRun2022. For this breast cancer event, we might also suggest a location hashtag like #HamOnt and a relevant phrase hashtag such as #BreastCancerAwareness. Always search around to find local hashtags relevant to your location.

How many hashtags should I use?

While you can use up to 30 hashtags on a regular Instagram post, it doesn’t mean you should! There’s no right number, but using 2-5 is most common and up to 10-11 is reasonable.

Where should I put Instagram hashtags?

We recommend integrating one hashtag into the copy of your post. For example, “Hey #HamOnt, we can’t wait for this weekend’s event!” Beyond that, we suggest putting hashtags at the end of your post or as a comment on the post after you post.

What about Twitter and Facebook?

While hashtags can be used on Twitter and Facebook, each platform is a bit different. Twitter is best with 1-2 hashtags in a tweet, while Facebook users don’t often use hashtags to find new content.

How do I know if my hashtags are working?

Check your Instagram insights! When looking at your data, you’ll be able to see the number of impressions from various locations, including hashtags. Test different hashtags on different posts and see how the data evolves.

Final tips about Instagram hashtags

Check that a hashtag means what you think it means! Sometimes putting words side by side can appear differently. Double-check that your hashtag is clear and can only be read as intended.

Prioritize accessibility! Capitalize the first letter of each word in your hashtag, as we did in our examples. This makes it easier for people and screen readers to read.

The last one is easy: save your hashtags in a text document so you can copy and paste them later.

Want to discuss other ways you can maximize your brand impact? Let’s book a call.

Kitestring is a Hamilton-based design marketing agency specializing in branding, marketing and campaign strategy, and annual report design. Whether you’re a socially-conscious organization, non-profit, or community-led business, we’ll take on your marketing so you can focus on your top priorities.

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