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  • Terra Werner & Daniela Schrittenlocher

How to Use Instagram Hashtags the Right Way

If your hashtags reach is less than 30% of your overall reach on average, there's room for improvement!

Honestly, there is so. much. noise. around this topic...

Let me tell you this:

📣 Instagram hashtags play a crucial role for small businesses and brands to expand their reach and engage with their target audience.

Hashtags have become a powerful tool for content discovery, community engagement, and brand promotion in the digital landscape.

There's so much more to say about hashtags, how they work, and how to use them the right way...

So let's start with 5 important tips on how to use Instagram hashtags the right way:

1. Identify relevant hashtags for your account.

Identify your audience before diving into hashtag research, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your target audience.

✨ Consider their demographics, interests, and preferences.

This knowledge will help you align your hashtags with their needs and interests, ensuring maximum relevance and engagement.


Niche: Fashion

Target Audience: Women 24 - 35 years old

Use the search function on Instagram to find popular hashtags that are relevant to your content & page.

The buzzword is RELEVANT! 🚨

Identify hashtags relevant to your:

  • Account size

  • Engagement Rate

  • Topic

  • Content

  • Niche

  • Target Audience

  • Location

  • Day/Event

2. Use relevant keywords but avoid top-performing hashtags!

Popular hashtag examples:

#love (2B posts)

#life (418M posts)

#homedecor (121M posts)

If you use popular hashtags, such as #love with a total of 2.1 B posts on it, your post will just drown in the thousands of posts being posted using this hashtag every minute.

🚫 Instead of a super popular hashtag like #homedecor

3. Use the right tools to find hashtags.

Online hashtag tools analyze trending hashtags, provide hashtag suggestions, and offer insights into hashtag performance.

5 hashtag tools to use:

  • Sprout Social

  • Flick Social

  • Hootsuite

  • IQ Hashtags

  • (formerly HashtagSlayer)

Experiment with different tools and find the ones that suit your needs and objectives.

Here's my IQ Hashtags custom affiliate link if you wanna check it out:

IQ Hashtags Search function

4. Stack your hashtags.

Mix popular and niche hashtags to maximize your reach and engagement, and strike a balance between the different hashtags.

Location and target audience related hashtags have a great potential of exposing your content to a local and/or your target audience.

✨ Niche hashtags attract engaged users who are genuinely interested in your industry or niche. By using a combination of both, you can reach a broader audience while targeting a more interested and engaged segment.

Hashtag Stacking Strategy:

This stacking example works great for accounts with 1k-10k followers.

Use hashtags from different categories and "sizes" and combine them to build your perfect set of hashtags. ⬇️

Instagram hashtags stacking example

5. Hashtag placement…

Don’t include your hashtag set in the comments section of your posts!

🚨 Hashtags always belong in your caption.

Here’s why:

Hashtags count as keywords in your caption and the algorithm will recognize them as such!

This means you are not just reaching the right people, but also helping Instagram categorize your account, posts, and Reels correctly.

6. Analyze & optimize your hashtags.

Regularly review and refine your hashtag strategy based on changing trends, audience behavior, and platform updates.

Monitor analytics and experiment with different hashtag combinations to optimize results.

PRO TIP: Choose a tool that aligns with your needs and budget to gain a comprehensive understanding of your hashtag performance.

✨ Keep track of the performance of your hashtags and adapt as needed.

Here’s how:

Visit IQ Hashtags > Hashtag performance > analyze your performance.

IQhashtags hashtag performance feature

Instagram hashtags can significantly enhance your small business or brand's visibility and engagement on the platform.

✨ By understanding how to use hashtags the right way, you can optimize your Instagram presence and connect with your target audience more effectively.

We’ve got the guide to teach you literally everything you need to know about Hashtags, including:

Instagram hashtags Guide for businesses and brands

1. How to reach more people

2. How to find hashtags that work for you and/or your clients

3. Which hashtags NOT to use

4. Which tools you should try

5. How to analyze your hashtag performance

…and so much more!

🚨 Get the Instagram Hashtags Guide for Businesses and Brands! Now available on our website and Etsy Shop!

Hashtag wisely, friends! 😉


written by Terra Werner and Daniela Schrittenlocher

@ELAS Marketing Services LLC

Follow @elasmarketingservices for daily tips, facts and honest social media & marketing talk on Instagram.

Email us at with questions or topic requests.

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