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How To Drive Results With An Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Posted by Drew Melendy on Feb 14, 2020 3:50:54 PM
Drew Melendy

The practice of using hashtags for social media marketing has been around 2007. Their long track record have made many question their if they’re even necessary anymore.

So, are they still useful today? If you’re using Instagram to grow your following and revenue, the answer is a resounding yes! But for many, hashtags are a bewildering subject. Let’s demystify the matter first.

Why Use Instagram Hashtags for Your Business?

Hashtags are tags that identify the content and concepts in your Instagram posts. They tie content to words and phrases that make it more searchable so that interested parties can easily find it.

For that reason, hashtags are a vital part of an Instagram marketing strategy. Without them, you miss opportunities to meet new customers, improve your engagement rates, and build a brand community on Instagram.

How do you successfully use them? Here are the basics of creating a Instagram hashtag strategy that drives results.

Woman lounging and scrolling through fashion posts on Instagram.

1. Use Hashtags That Interest Your Ideal Customer

To understand what hashtags would interest your target audience, look no further than your current customer base. Who are they, what do they like, and why do they buy from you?

If done right, your hashtags will speak to their common interests. Their ages, location, personalities, interests, lifestyles, and behaviors can give you an idea of what kinds of content they’d to search and discover while they’re scrolling on Instagram.

Are they jet-setters? Fashionistas? Beauty enthusiasts? Use your research to craft hashtags. Pretty soon, you’ll be attracting more of your ideal customers.

When in doubt, take a look at successful competitors and related influencers. Which hashtags are they using to attract an audience that is similar to yours? Get creative, and use the lessons learned to create a strategy that uses your unique brand personality. 

A search for "boutique" brings up related hashtags and the number of posts that they are contained in.

2. Research Popular & Trending Hashtags in Your Industry

Use hashtags that are popular in your industry or niche market. By using popular Instagram hashtags, you'll have better chances to reach a wider audience.

Search for trending hashtags as well, since they are timely. Timeliness is especially important for businesses that sell seasonal items like apparel. For example, #springstyle is only relevant once a year.

Both popular and trending topics show much promise for increasing brand exposure. Still, it won't matter if your posts get drowned out by the many others that are also using them. That brings us to the next step.


Inspire Boutique uses popular Instagram hashtags along with branded hashtags and hashtags that inspire their fashionista audience.

3. Add Specific, Less Common Hashtags

Popular Instagram hashtags are the most frequently searched, but they’re also the most frequently used by others.

Increase your competitive advantage by using more specific, less common hashtags in addition to popular ones. Both are needed to increase brand visibility with quality followers.

If you’re struggling with ideas, there are many paid and free Instagram hashtag generators that can help. Pick one that can find related hashtags, their popularity, and their trends so that you can make informed choices.

A brand advocate uses her favorite boutique's branded hashtags to show her love for their clothing.

4. Use Branded Hashtags to Build Community & Social Proof

Businesses that use branded hashtags are more discoverable and get increased brand exposure and engagement. These hashtags can be the name of your brand, your tagline, a collection launch, or related to a campaign or event. 

When customers use these tags, it’s a powerful form of social proof that real people trust and do business with you. It also provides fans the opportunity to engage with each other. Furthermore, brands can engage with their advocates and ask for permission to showcase their user-generated content.

By sharing user-generated content to your brand page, you can get engagement rates up to 690% higher than any other form content! While many brand advocates are happy to give their testimonies unprompted, you can encourage more participation by using hashtags to run successful UGC campaigns.

Related: 5 Ways Brands Can Boost Their Facebook & Instagram Engagement

Smiling woman with shopping bags in hand scrolls through Instagram.

5. Choose Hashtags & Captions Based on Content Goals

Instead of focusing on likes and follows, focus on bigger picture goals. Each of your Instagram posts should have clear objectives that will guide your strategy. 

Often, each piece of content exists to accomplish a few things, which will require you to use a variety of hashtags. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 on each post, so you have plenty of options to choose from.

We already discussed increasing customer acquisition by using hashtags that interest your target audience. Also, we know that branded hashtags help create community, spark brand conversations, and identify brand advocates. 

If you want to drive sales with your content, use hashtags that inspire your customers to make informed purchasing decisions. Use these to highlight campaigns, products, promotions, and sales. 

If you want to drive foot traffic to your brick and mortar store or a company event, use location-specific hashtags to reach local audiences. Don’t forget to use locations as hashtag stickers in Instagram Stories!

No matter what your goals are, always use your captions to support your hashtags.  If you sell on Instagram, you will probably ask your customers to comment "Sold" to buy or tap to shop.

If you want followers to visit your website, you may use your captions to ask followers to click the link in the bio. Whatever it is you’re trying to do, include a clear call-to-action to get your followers to follow through.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Selling On Instagram Is Better With CommentSold

Instagram Analytics shows a business account's profile activity, content, and audience.

6. Use Instagram Analytics to Measure Your Success

It will take some time to discover the best hashtag strategy for your brand, so be prepared to experiment.  Instagram business accounts have access to Instagram Analytics, a built-in tool that you can use to measure results.

Instagram Analytics contains engagement data, such as likes, comments, and clicks. You can even get a breakdown of audience demographics, so you can tell if you’re attracting your ideal customers. 

After a while, you will see certain trends in follower behavior here. If these metrics fall in line with your objectives, you know you’re doing something right.

The Takeaway

With enough research and experimentation, you can find and use hashtags that drive the most significant results for your business.

Instagram users are always looking for content that is relevant and engaging. When you use the right hashtags, you’ll reach the audiences that are searching for you, while building connections with current followers and brand advocates.

Topics: Marketing, Instagram

Sell on Instagram with CommentSold