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Our Ultimate Guide to Using Hashtags on Instagram

by | Jan 24, 2019

The hashtag has become an unofficial symbol of life on the internet and its social platforms, and in some cases has even crept into everyday speech (hashtag relatable). You may use them online all the time, or steer clear entirely… but did you know that they abide by their own unique rules on different social media sites? Knowing how to use them best on each platform can be really handy in terms of boosting your business account and getting found by new audiences. This is especially true if you’re running a business account on Instagram.

So, to make things simple, here are a few top tips in mastering the art of using hashtags successfully on the picture-led platform. If you are already a hashtagging king or queen, stop reading now. But if you are skulking in the wings unsure of whether to reach for the # key, this article should help.

To hashtag or not to hashtag?

First of all, it’s a big YES to using hashtags on Instagram. In fact, it’s probably the only social media platform out of all the others at the moment which rewards going big on hashtags. The official rules are 30 hashtags maximum, so that’s lots to play around with.

If you are going all in you’ll inevitably end up with a huge paragraph of hashtags which doesn’t look amazing (Instagram is about creating a visually pleasing experience, after all). We advise bumping them a few lines down under the main text of your post to ‘hide’ them. You may see people doing this by using full stops or bullet points.

Why hashtag?

Hashtags are supposed to make you more discoverable to a wider audience. They essentially help people find you, as they act like a vast indexing system.

Instagram has grown at a phenomenal speed. Launched back in 2010, today it has over 1 billion monthly active users. Now consider that each of those users is hashtagging their posts and searching for similar posts by hashtag, too. That’s a lot of potential customers looking for hashtags and posts like yours!

Keep it #short and #sweet

We know it’s easy to simply hashtag what is being shown in the image or video you have uploaded to Instagram. For example, if you’re a wedding cake shop, don’t just hashtag #my #cakes #are #pink. Yes, you will see lots of people do this, but that doesn’t mean it’s right!

Instead, use a variety of relevant hashtags such as #weddingcake and #specialist or #cakeart. It helps you to stand out from the generic descriptive hashtags and gains you relevant engagement. Ultimately, it will also get you found. In layperson’s terms, nobody who is seeking a spectacular wedding cake is going to be searching for it under the hashtag #my.

And avoid any temptation to overcomplicate things by using long winded hashtags such as #imakeamazingweddingcakes. They are a pain to spell too, and sometimes to read.
Keep it simple. For example, #incrediblecakes. The more natural your hashtag is, the more likely it is that people will find it organically.

Avoid generic hashtags such as #like4like or #followforfollow

Using generic click bait hashtags such as #likeforlike do nothing in the long run except boost your vanity numbers. These spam-like hashtags don’t attract users who are actually interested in your content… merely ones who are interested in a #followback.

Why risk your reputation for a deluge of likes and followers that will do nothing for your business other than increase the number of the likes on your post? It is not purely about numbers – it is about relevance. It can also be off putting to users to see a company using such hashtags. It looks unprofessional and will more likely repel the more savvy customers.

Variety is key

Yes, we know it’s tempting, but try not to simply copy and paste the same hashtags into every post. Variety is always the spice of life! Maybe have a few groups of hashtags saved in your Notes app, that you can quickly copy and paste, but then spend a little time changing and moving a few. Instagram will like that.

You want to be reaching out to slightly different audiences within your target across the week. If your hashtags are varied, you’ll be able to do this more effectively. Your posts should reach their full potential.


Since you can now include hashtags on your Instagram Stories – what better way to bring new engagement and potential followers? This enables your story to be viewed by users searching for that specific hashtag, i.e. your target audience!

However, don’t get carried away, as all the same rules apply. Ensure you keep hashtags varied, avoid using spammy ones and stay relevant to your post.

Here at Codebreak, we are big fans of Instagram and the mighty hashtag. If you feel you need a boost with your company’s Instagram – we’d love to help.

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