In the world of Instagram, hashtags are what we get asked about most frequently. Here's how to find and use them
What is a Hashtag?
It's a digital signpost. If your picture is of a beer, you'd want to use #beer to be found by people searching for pictures of beer. Search is huge on Instagram, making it one of the best platforms for getting discovered. Hashtags are key to this discovery.
They're also used to give more context to your post, or to help your picture show up in trending topics.
What Hashtags do I use?
Firstly, what's in the picture? Chances are it'll either be food, drink or a view. So let's take this photo for example:
Because the image is of a new gin stocked by the pub, you'd start with the following hashtags:
Once you've got the obvious ones, you'll want to find more to add to your photo, to give you a better chance of being discovered. In this example, they used:
Notice how they've used hashtags for the time of the week they've posted (or when people are thinking about having a drink) #weekend along with other hashtags that give more context around the drink - #lime and #perfectserve
Finding Related Hashtags
There are third party tools that will find out related hashtags to use but Instagram does it perfectly well itself.
- Go to Search
- Search for your first hashtag (#Gin)
- Select #Gin from the list
- Look at related tags at the top of the screen
You'll now see a few related tags.
Click on one of them to see more related tags:
You can also click on one of the top images to see which tags they're using for inspiration:
So the above example gives us a #ginstagram hashtag that we wouldn't have thought of originally.
3rd Party Hashtag Finders
There's only 1 that we use regularly - www.keyhole.io
Enter a tag, make sure you've selected the Instagram checkbox and not the Twitter one, then scroll down. You'll be given a word cloud of the most related tags:
How many tags should I use?
Instagram, unlike other platforms, doesn't see hashtag use as spam - it's a key part of the platform. Research shows that the most effective number of hashtags is between 8 and 12, with a couple saying 9 is the number to go for. Make sure they're a mix of general hashtags (#drink) and specific hashtags (#hendricks) for the best effect.