How to Find the Right Hashtags for Instagram

I figure it’s finally time to update this.

About a year ago I wrote “The Best Lifestyle Hashtags for Bloggers.” But since then I have been continually testing out various hashtags on Instagram and finding what works.

I would like to preface this article by saying that finding the right hashtags isn’t something that works overnight, nor will it always produce the same results twice.

However, finding those right hashtags will definitely bump up your Instagram game if you know how to strategize them, have the right high-quality content, and interact with those hashtags.

So what does it take to find those right hashtags for your Instagram?

Having the right content

You’re probably thinking I’ve heard this a million times, but I can stress the importance of HAVING the right content for the hashtags you use.

Ask yourself, where does my content fall in terms of niche? Do you showcase lifestyle, food, fashion, home, etc..? Now break that down even further, are your images or videos tutorial-based? Are you teaching others how to put together outfits or recipes? Or are you showing how to DIY your home?

Specifically, ask yourself what kind of content you have, or want to have. And focus on that niche with high-quality images that are easy to depict and visually appealing.

And no this doesn’t require an ‘expensive’ camera, I shoot exclusively on my iPhone now.

Once you have what kind of content you are producing on Instagram you can now find what does well in those categories.

For me personally, I am more fashion-focused, but specifically, Parisian fashion-based. Simply put my fashion sense is more casual, neutral, and inspo based.

Below I’ve attached a photo from my feed for reference.

Research Research Research

Now that you have specifically niched down what kind of content you are producing. It’s time to research what hashtags others in your niche are using.

I get asked frequently “how do you find the right hashtags for your Instagram” well I started going in and seeing what others in my niche were using.

Now doing this won’t always produce instant results. I’ve been through hundreds if not thousands of hashtags options for my photos. And I’ve just made notes of which hashtags batches work for me.

Side note:

Instagram doesn’t have a feature to specifically show you which individual hashtags are working. It really is trial and error.

I know there are third-party apps or sites that tend to help, but I personally don’t recommend using them as Instagram has banned the use of third-party apps.

Once you have done some research on hashtags, (yes this includes manually looking through accounts) it’s time to see how big or small those tags are.

I have heard so many opinions on how many hashtags you should use on Instagram, as well as what ratio of big and small you should use. Personally, I use all 30 hashtags and use a wide variety of big and small tags.

What classifies as a big or small hashtag? I don’t know the specific answer to that, but my opinion is anything that has 1 million+ photos under a hashtag I would consider a “bigger hashtag” and anything under that would be considered a “smaller hashtag”.

I also like to use 3-5 hashtags in my actual caption on Instagram, and will place the others in the first comment of the post.

Again, that is just how I use hashtags on Instagram. If you want to actually be seen through a hashtag I would recommend using ones that have <50k-500k photos under them.

You can check how many photos are under a hashtag by clicking on the specific hashtag, i.e 50k posts.

Using smaller hashtags definitely raises your chance to be seen under that tag. And the higher up you are on that specific tag the more Instagram promotes your photo to other users who also use that tag.

But you don’t want to use tags that are too small either, chances are those tags aren’t being continually searched and not helping your posts in the long run.

Instagram favors those who continually show up first for hashtags. How do I know that? My photos will jump exponentially when I show up as one of the top photos under a tag.

This equates to more likes, comments, and saves, showing Instagram that this is content worth showing to MORE of your own audience. Yes, your audience doesn’t always see 100% things you post, as well as those using those hashtags.

Another thing:

Hashtag rankings are always changing! You can rank high on a certain hashtag for a few hours, and then the next day you may not be there.

Don’t panic! That doesn’t mean that your post is no longer searchable under that hashtag, it just means Instagram is ranking other posts under that tag.

Some of my posts that have performed well with hashtags.

Engage and Interact

This is crucial to your hashtag game. Once you niched down your content, found hashtags you want to try, and have scaled your chances of being seen in those tags.

It’s time to engage and interact with those who use those hashtags on Instagram.

This not only can bring additional engagement to your own Instagram post, but it shows Instagram that this is the kind of content you like engaging with and using yourself.

I tend to interact with about 5-8 specific hashtags I used in a post after I have posted an image myself.

I also only interact with the first couple of images under each hashtag, as doing too many at a time will look spammy to Instagram and can get you action blocked.

You should also write meaningful comments under the photos you interact with. Writing things like “love this, great, pretty smile, spam of emojis…” can look spammy and not genuine, showing Instagram that you aren’t actually liking this content.

Yes, Instagram did, in fact, come out with a press release stating that it values genuine interaction, after all, that’s why the platform was created.

Taking 10 minutes after you post to engage with others using the same hashtags, as well as engaging back with your personal audience will overall help your hashtag game – trust me.

Continually learning Instagram hashtags

Just because you may have found the right group of Instagram hashtags, doesn’t mean they will work forever.

As easy as that would be Instagram, hashtags, and even yourself are constantly changing. So it’s important to continually research, study, and seek out trending hashtags for your niche.

Luckily there are millions of hashtags out there, and more being created every day. So just because one tag may become “too big” another one may be up and coming.

Don’t be afraid to mix up hashtags from time to time either, or even adding a tag that is just relevant to that photo (say you are showing platform shoes you can hashtag #platformshoes).

Remember that Instagram and its algorithm isn’t perfect. Don’t feel discouraged if a set of hashtags worked great for one photo, and not another.

That doesn’t mean those hashtags didn’t work, it just may not have picked up on the algorithm that day or time.

Have fun with the process

Instagram itself is always a learning process, so in the midst of everything don’t forget to have fun. Have fun creating your style, finding others to interact with, or whatever you want to do.

I can’t stress enough that the Instagram algorithm isn’t perfect, and how it will NEVER determine your worth as a creator, person, business, etc.

So go out and experiment with your style and different hashtags, find others that share the same style and niche and interact with them, and most importantly have fun with it all.

Hopefully, this guide helped you figure out the next step in finding the right hashtags for your Instagram. As always happy writing xx


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