The concept of hashtags was first introduced to Twitter back in 2007. Their purpose was to index keywords or topics, which still holds true to this day. This strategy was so well received that other social networks have adopted it, and it plays a key role in any social media marketing strategy.

Although the use of hashtags has remained the same, the optimal number of hashtags and search volume for hashtags used has evolved over the years. In this blog we will cover hashtag best practices and provide a guideline on how to leverage hashtags on Instagram. Why Instagram? It’s the only social network that has established guardrails for content creators to keep in mind when developing a hashtag strategy. All other networks have remained secretive when it comes to disclosing their algorithms and although Mindgruve has a good idea  what best practices would be on other networks, we prefer making recommendations based on facts not theories.

Hashtag use on Instagram can make or break your marketing strategy. But why is it so crucial? When you use hashtags correctly, more people who are likely interested in your brand or products will see your posts. Currently, up to 30 hashtags can be leveraged per post. But just because you can use 30 hashtags doesn’t mean you should. Here are the do’s and don’ts of using hashtags on Instagram..

IG Hashtags Do’s

  • Use between 3-5 hashtags
  • Use hashtags that are relevant to the theme of your content
  • See what hashtags your audience uses and follow
  • Mix well-known hashtags and niche hashtags to broaden your discoverability
    • Example of well know hashtags: #Congestion #Allergies #SinusInfection 
    • Example of niche hashtags: #Sinusitis #AllergyFriendly #SinusRelief
  • Use brand-specific hashtags so your fans can search for your content
    • Ex: #SIMPURE
    • Or if your brand/product doesn’t lend itself to hashtag use either because it’s too generic or long, you can create your own variation 
      • Ex: #SquatchNation
  • Switch up the order of hashtags
    • This will prevent Instagram from considering your content to be spam — which can lead to your account being shadow-banned.

IG Hashtags Don’ts

  • Don’t use hashtags that have nothing to do with your content 
    • Ex: #Instalike #ExplorePage
  • Don’t use overly generic hashtags
    • They make your content harder to be discovered due to volume of other content also leveraging that hashtag
      • Ex: #Summer (526 million posts) 
      • #Skincare (96 million posts)
      • #Cancer (19 million posts)
    • Best rule of thumb is use hashtags that have between 10K-3 million submissions
  • Don’t use too many hashtags. It will not help with reach
  • Although up to 30 hashtags can be used, Instagram clarified that adding 10-20 hashtags will not help with attribution

These do’s and don’ts were pulled from Instagram’s Creators account which provides tips and tricks for content creators. They do a great job of updating followers with algorithm changes and they’re transparent about what to do to help grow your Instagram presence. If you don’t already follow them, we highly encourage you to do so.

Although hashtags play a key role in marketing strategy, one thing you should always keep in mind is that content is still king, and the way people interact with it can affect distribution more than hashtags. Think of hashtags as a tool that provides context about your post and support delivering content to people who are interested in a particular topic.