If you’re new to Instagram or just looking to increase the visibility of your account, hashtags are an essential tool to get more followers and likes.

Posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.

Instagram hashtags help categorize your posts and let users find content relevant to them.

Effective use of hashtags is the most important SEO tactic on the platform. Understanding how to use them is crucial to your accounts engagement.

How to use hashtags

It’s a pretty simple procedure – you can add a hashtag in the comments or captions of your photos. Hashtags on a post that’s set to public will be displayed on the relevant hashtag page.

Did you know you can also add hashtags to your Instagram Stories? You can do this in two different ways – One is by using hashtag stickers, and the other is by simply typing the hashtags using the text tool.

Unfortunately, just writing every single hashtag relevant to your post isn’t going to get you more Instagram followers! So how do you use this powerful tool to your advantage?

Be specific

Choose tags that describe your account, your business, and your target market.

Avoid spammy hashtags that have been used a million times or more.

You may get a couple of likes but your post will be lost in the crowd and targeted by bots, which isn’t going to help create an engaged group of followers.

Use Instagram Hashtags in your comments

Whilst you have the option to put up to 30 hashtags in your caption, users are becoming less engaged by the distraction of multiple hashtags accompanying your post.

Putting your Instagram hashtags in the comments still allows for maximum reach without diverting attention away from your post.

Use the maximum number of hashtags

While 30 hashtags sounds like a lot, now that you’re using comments instead of captions, this gives you more opportunities to get followers and increase likes. However, don’t feel the need to use all of them if you can’t think of 30 relevant hashtags.

In the end, appropriate hashtag selection for your target audience is the most important factor.

Step into your target audience’s shoes

Why is the user coming to your page? Whilst you may be tempted to use hashtags to describe why you think the picture is interesting, user interest is what’s driving likes and engagement and should be captioned accordingly.

If you’re having trouble figuring out the best hashtags for maximum reach, begin by looking at your major competitors to see what they’re using to get Instagram likes.

Alternatively, become your consumer and try using the search function to see what your hashtags bring up and how they move you.

Track your Instagram Hashtag success

If you’ve switched to a business profile (and you should – 80% of users follow a business on Instagram), you can also use Instagram’s Insights to evaluate the performance of posts. As well as reach and impressions, you can also see how the users who viewed your post found it.

By analysing your post insights, you can discover which hashtags are most effective at drawing new users to your posts.

Instagram hashtags are a great way to create growth and connect with new and existing followers. Hopefully, these tips will help you increase your account’s potential and develop your own hashtag strategy!

How to use Instagram Stories effectively

Instagram stories came out in August last year and were widely seen as a direct copy of Snapchat.

While this might have been a less than subtle way to steal Snapchat’s market share, Instagram managed to turn this feature into an effective business tool without ruining it for consumers.

Whether you’re looking to promote a campaign, drive sales or share entertaining content, Instagram Stories can help. Currently, there are 250 million daily active users viewing stories – approximately 50% of Instagram’s total active users.

Instagram Hashtags and Geo-Locations

Originally, stories could only be seen by your followers but Instagram has also enabled the ability to search by location and hashtag, opening up another way to reach people who aren’t following you. Because of this, you should always use at least one hashtag or location.

When people search for a hashtag or location, stories show up at the top of the page along with the follow button. You can add up to 10 hashtags to a story by using stickers or the text tool.

However, 10 hashtags on one story can be chaotic and distracting so if you really need to add that many, you could shrink some down and cover them with a sticker or emoji.

Stories may also be featured across the top bar of the “Explore” page which can mean a number of new followers and increased engagement. What’s even better is that it’s possible to alter your stories to maximise your chances of appearing there!

What should you post as a story?

Instagram Stories tend to have lower production standards than permanent posts so don’t be afraid to post a mix of fun and promotional content. Fortunately, there are many tools, stickers, and filters you can use to make creative stories for Instagram.

As well as the photo or video that forms the basis of your story, there are two exciting features which increase the versatility of your posts – adding links and using polls.

Links are pretty important. This is the only place you can add a link outside of your bio and the ability to send people to specific pages is particularly beneficial to businesses.

Whether it’s to a promotion or a new product, this will help drive traffic to relevant landing pages.

Interactive poll stickers are a great feature for businesses.

Whether you are looking to gauge interest in a product, gain insight into new ideas or just get help to name the new office dog, polls are a great way to engage your Instagram followers.

How often to post Instagram Stories

An Instagram Story only lasts for 24 hours.

In addition, Instagram does not deprioritise you for posting too many stories. This may change in the future but for now, there are no penalties from Instagram.

However, because of the way Instagram Stories are watched (i.e. queued up one after another for the same account), posting too many stories in one 24-hour period can be annoying.

As such, Instagram implemented the option to mute stories from certain accounts.

Posting multiple times a day may work well if you are a blogger or have a particularly engaged legion of followers but it may not work for you if all you need stories for is to promote new products.

At the end of the day, there is no agreed number to post each day but it is a good idea to keep the amount you post consistent to meet your follower’s expectations.

Get the most out of your Instagram Stories with Insights

As with your normal Instagram posts, the effectiveness in engaging your followers can be analysed with Instagram Insights.

When you open your business profile you can view metrics such as impressions, reach, exits, and taps forward and back. This is a great tool for assessing how useful your stories are in engaging your followers.

Tag other accounts in your Instagram Stories for business

As well as hashtags and geo-locations, you also have the option to tag other users or business accounts in your stories. This is particularly useful when using influencers or running a takeover campaign and posts that include another user net 56% more engagement.

Instagram has also introduced a new paid partnership feature which makes it much easier to tag businesses and users in your sponsored Instagram stories.

Share Instagram Live Videos in your stories

The last feature to be mentioned is the option to add your live videos after the broadcast as a story. Previously, live videos couldn’t be replayed or shared after they ended but this feature allows them to remain up for a further 24 hours.

Whilst live created a sense of urgency to tune in or miss out, there is a lot of value in being able to share your videos post broadcast to those who were unable to join in at the time.

Hopefully, these tips have given you some insight into effectively using Instagram Stories to your advantage.

How to use Instagram Search & Explore to boost your account

Being featured on the Instagram Search & Explore tab is a great way to get new followers and increase exposure to your posts and content.

The algorithm is focused on a specific set of interests so allows targeted exposure to the users you want.

It’s not just getting featured that will help grow your business.

You can also use the Instagram search tool for engaging other users, finding the best hashtags for your posts, and finding influencers to work with.

According to Instagram – Posts are selected automatically based on things like the people you follow or the posts you like.

You may also see video channels, which can include posts from a mixture of hand-picked and automatically sourced accounts based on topics we think you’ll enjoy.

How to get improve your chances to get on the Instagram Search & Explore tab

  1. Make sure you are using appropriate Instagram hashtags and location tags. It’s pretty straightforward but if you don’t include these, they’re not going to appear in the search results. They also need to be relevant or you’re not going to be reaching the users you are targeting. Consider using niche hashtags to increase the chance of reaching the top posts section.
  2. Utilise Instagram Insights on your business profile. As well as showing you the success of your posts, you can also use this tool to track the days and hours when your target audience are most active. This way you can schedule your posts to appear at the best time possible, increasing the likelihood it will appear at the top of the search page.
  3. Don’t just post photos. Instagram stories and live video are also featured on the search & explore page – more opportunities to be highlighted. It is worth noting that featured live videos are the ones that are trending due to the number of users viewing it, proximity to the user’s location, and engagement of the viewers. Be sure to use the Insights to maximise these!
  4. Collaborate! When someone likes one of your posts, it vastly increases the likelihood that this post will be seen by their followers. The more followers they have the more people will see your post! Ideally, the other accounts liking yours will be related so that you are engaging new users from your target audience.
  5. Tag other users. Similar to the previous point, but this works better for those large accounts with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. The community managers for these big accounts often like posts they are tagged in to engage their followers – this like means your post will then be seen by all their followers!
  6. Create a conversation. A high amount of engagement on your posts boosts your chances of appearing on the Instagram Explore page. The algorithm favours user engagement so create call-to-actions, ask questions, promote branded hashtags, and reply to your followers’ comments.

Using Instagram Search results to find the best hashtags

When trying to work out which hashtags are best for your posts, utilising the search and & explore function will show you the most popular hashtags related to your search.

Instagram search will show you a variety of hashtags similar to your search term and also the number of posts that are using that particular hashtag.

This is particularly important to note as Allen Harper, who wrote about Instagram hashtags, suggested avoiding the most popular Instagram hashtags:

Some hashtags are vastly more popular than others; however, popularity doesn’t always translate to effectiveness. For example, you’ll notice that #photooftheday, #like4like, #instagood, #iphoneonly, etc. are extremely popular. Unfortunately, since so many users throw these similar tags on their images, it means that their photos are buried in the pool within seconds and become virtually undiscoverable.

They are also tags that are nonspecific to any field or niche. In other words, what few people may be browsing these pools could likely overlook your photo because it’s not necessarily what interests them. In addition, the popular tags usually have a lot of bots/spammers that use this tag on images—you’ll earn yourself a lot of spam comments on whatever photo you posted with said tags.

As well as being wary of the most popular hashtags listed on the search & explore tab, you should be cautious about those with the fewest number of posts.

This will typically show users aren’t following the hashtags or searching for them. The exception is if it is part of a niche community or following. Always check the hashtag you want to use to ensure it is geared towards your target market.

When you’ve found that hashtag you want to use you should always tap on it to go to its page.

This page shows you the top posts for that particular hashtag, allowing you to check your posts against these and confirm you are targeting the right people.

It also shows you the related hashtags along the top which may not have come up in your initial search.

Using Instagram Search to engage your followers

It’s always a good idea to interact with your followers and their accounts.

When a user tags your account it’s easier but you can always search for your branded hashtag or location tag in the search tool for any posts or stories.

The best ways to follow up on this and interact with your followers is to:

  • Like the post
  • Comment on it
  • Re-post it (with credit of course!)
  • Feature it on a website

Make sure to give thoughtful and sincere comments/feedback.

One word comments often come across as disingenuous as many spam bots do the same thing.

You can also extend this to hashtags related to your brand, interacting with people who aren’t your followers but are interested in the same topics.

Finding Influencers using Instagram Search

Influencers can be a very useful resource for promoting your account –  94% of brands consider working with influencers to be a success. 82% of consumers are “highly likely” to follow a recommendation made by a micro–influencer, compared to 73% who are highly likely to act on a recommendation from an average person.

You can find the right influencer for you in a number of ways using the search & explore page.

  1. Utilise your followers. Try looking through your followers for those with keywords in their username or name. If they have a big enough following you’ve found someone who’s already engaged with your brand and is likely more suitable to represent you.
  2. Search people. Use the same keywords you were searching for in your followers in the Instagram search box. Instagram personalises these searches based on location and who you follow so you should get relevant results.
  3. Search locations and hashtags. Check out the top posts for an appropriate hashtag/location and those with a good following could be great ambassadors for your brand. As mentioned before, niche or branded hashtags can be quite useful despite a smaller number of followers.
  4. Look at the Instagram Explore section. The most relevant Instagram posts are collated here for you based on who you are following, what posts you have liked etc. so can be very effective if you have been engaging with other followers and posts relevant to your niche.
  5. Look at similar users. When you have found someone you think is a good influencer, check the suggestions drop down on their account. If you can’t see this, simply tap the down-facing arrow next to the “Follow” or “Following” button to reveal a list of similar accounts.

A summary of Instagram Search & Explore

Quickly recapping what has been covered, these are the best ways to use Instagram’s Search and Explore for your account:

  • Increase your chances of getting featured to enhance your brand’s identity
  • Find the best hashtags for your account
  • Find & discover new posts to engage with
  • Search for influencers to work with