How do Hashtags Work? An Updated Guide to Instagram Hashtags

Good things come in small packages and this phrase has never been more true for Instagram hashtags. Instagram hashtags are still super effective in 2021 and should be a core element in your Instagram social media marketing strategy.

Masterful use of hashtags can bring more eyes, more likes and more comments on your Instagram posts which can lead to more sales and profits for your business.

So how do hashtags work and how do you successfully use them?

In this article we answer those questions and more so all that’s left to do is to start reading!

What are Instagram hashtags and how do hashtags work?

Instagram hashtags are small links made up of words, numbers or emojis that are preceded by a pound sign (#). All hashtags on Instagram are clickable and will send users to a page which displays content featuring a specific hashtag.

Hashtags in full effect. Source: @australia

What hashtags do is essentially categorise similar types of content together, making it easier for Instagram users to discover content they want. And with over 1 billion individual users on Instagram, it’s something that is incredibly useful.

Users can follow certain hashtags so they can readily see what they want to see. For example, you can follow the #soccer hashtag to see more posts about well, soccer! It makes Instagram so much easier for users.

But why should you, as a business, use them?

Why are hashtags important?

If you think about the amount of content that is uploaded to Instagram daily (which is over 95 million!!!), then it’s easy to see why your content might not get seen by as many people as you’d like. After all, chances are, your content will be buried under literally millions of different pieces of content.

Hashtags are one way to get more people to discover your content. They act as a way for you to expand your reach and your impressions, as well as increase engagement.

Users don’t even have to be following you to see your posts! Your post will always appear on the hashtag page for any hashtag you choose to use. Not to mention, Instagram will also include your post in ‘Related Hashtag’ pages as well.

Every post with the hashtag #seeaustralia is shown on the Hashtag Page. Source: Instagram

Hashtags aren’t limited to just photos and videos, but can also be used on Instagram Stories as well, further increasing your reach and visibility.

All in all, hashtags are essential to getting your content and the messages within them in front of more people.

Types of hashtags

We’ve only scratched the surface of answering ‘how do hashtags work’. In this next part, we’ll look at the 9 different types of hashtags and what they mean for your business.

Product/Service Hashtags

Product or service hashtags are basic hashtags which describe what you have to offer as a business. Hashtags such as #coffee, #marketingagency and #sneakers are common examples of this.

Niche Hashtags

These hashtags are made to target a more niche audience. Niche hashtags differentiate you within a larger or wider industry. For example, if you are a restaurant owner some of your niche hashtags might be #italianrestaurant or #chineserestaurant.

Industry Instagram Community Hashtags

Hashtags are great for building communities of people who are interested in similar things. Community hashtags are made for these online communities and are great for posts that specifically target these groups of people. Example include #foodiesofinstagram or #surfersofinstagram.

The above post features both product tags and community tags. Source: @houstonfoodiess

Special Event or Seasonal Hashtags

These hashtags are self-explanatory, they’re made for special days of the year or particular seasons. Common holidays include Easter and Christmas but they can also include national holidays such as Australia Day or a season such as winter. Example hashtags include #christmas, #anzacday or #aussiesummer.

Location Hashtags

Location hashtags target a certain geographic location whether it be a country, city or a landmark. Examples include #australia, #melbournefoodie or #operahousemusic.

Daily Hashtags

These hashtags target every day of the week and aren’t just limited to simpel tags such as #Monday or #Wednesday. Any hashtag containing a day of the week can be considered a daily hashtag like #mondayblues or #thankgoditsfriday.

#TGIF and #friyay are some examples of daily hashtags. Source @valeriemadisonjewelry

Relevant Phrase Hashtags

Relevant phrase hashtags are those that are related to your brand (while not being too specific). For example, if you’re a painter you can include hashtags such as #artistblock or #creativesofinstagram. These hashtags are a great way to expand your reach to audiences that might not otherwise usually see your content.

Acronym Hashtags

The myriad of different and quirky acronyms created by the Internet have made its way onto Instagram hashtags. Popular ones you might have come across include #TBT for Throwback Thursday, #TGIF for Thank God it’s Friday and #OOTD for Outfit of the Day.

Emoji Hashtags

Any hashtag featuring one of Instagram’s colourful and unique emojis are considered an emoji hashtag. Some examples can include #sunrise🌞 or #unwell🤧.

How to find the right hashtags for your business

Now that you’ve learned how hashtags work, it’s time to use them for your business!

You want to be using the right hashtags to target not only your own target audience but audiences that might also be interested in your brand.

Here are three tips to find the best hashtags to use.

Check out your competition

Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing is a fantastic way to make sure you’re on the right track and are on pace with everyone else. It’s also a great way to find some hashtags that you might have missed or have not thought about using before!

Check out your followers

Another way to find great hashtags to use is to see what your followers are using! After all, they are your target audience so it makes sense that they would be using hashtags that are popular within that audience. To find them, simply check out the content your own followers are posting on Instagram.

Use Instagram hashtag search tools

If you’re looking for effective hashtags, there are multiple tools and generators online to find hashtags. These tools use algorithms and data to give you a list of hashtags related to keywords you input. Some popular examples of hashtag generators include All Hashtag and Inflact.

Using a hashtag generator like Inflact can help you find the best hashtags to use.

Instagram hashtag tips and tricks

Let’s do a quick review of what we’ve looked at so far.

How do hashtags work? Check.

Why are they important? Check.

Where can you find good hashtags? Check, check, check!

Now we can take a quick look at some tips and tricks you can use to really improve the way you use your Instagram hashtags!

Don’t use too many hashtags

Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags on a single post and while you might think that using up all 30 tags is best, Instagram actually penalises your post by hiding it because it considers it as spam. According to multiple sources, around 10-15 hashtags per post is ideal.

Hashtags to avoid

Most hashtags are free for you to use, but some will attract negative attention and detract from your overall Instagram marketing strategy. Any hashtags which ask for likes or followers (such as #like4like or #follow4follow) will attract bots and is generally not a good look for your brand.

Steer clear of these spammy hashtags! Source: Instagram

Hide your hashtags

While effective at increasing reach and engagement, hashtags don’t particularly look that great tacked on to the end of your post’s caption. Instead, many users hide their hashtags in creative ways. The two most popular ways of doing this include hiding it within the caption or hiding it within the comments.

Instagram hides captions after three lines, so your hashtags won’t be viewable unless your followers tap the ‘more’ button. Knowing this, you can use periods (.) to create lines before placing all your hashtags – like in the example below.

Using periods to hide hashtags in the captions. Source: @demas

Alternatively, you can post all your hashtags in a comment under the post, which will remain hidden for mobile users.

Putting the hashtags in the comments can hide them from view. Source; @echt_apparel

Step up your Instagram game with masterful use of hashtags

This brings us to the end of our guide to Instagram hashtags. Using them correctly can see your brand’s social profiles experience huge growth and engagement – there’s no reason not to start using them today!
You’ve got the answers to ‘how do hashtags work’ – but do you have other questions about successfully marketing on Instagram? Check out the rest of the ZipZipe blog for more articles which will help propel your social media marketing to the next level!