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A start-to-finish guide to using hashtags on Instagram for growth in 2020

Instagram has gone through a lot of changes since its initial release in 2010, but through it all, one thing has remained consistent: the importance of Instagram hashtags.


Instagram hashtags are still an effective way to get more eyes (and engagement!) on your Instagram posts in 2020.


A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. So, it really is worth creating a hashtag strategy for your brand if you want to grow your account!

This guide for using niche hashtags on Instagram will help you understand everything you need to know about using hashtags to get more followers, improve your posts’ engagement rates, and build a community around your business.


Read on to learn how to use niche hashtags on Instagram more strategically and what steps you need to take to implement an effective hashtag strategy.


Content Menu

  1. How Do Instagram Hashtags Work And Their Importance

  2. The Different Types of Instagram Hashtags

  3. Why Opt for Niche Hashtags on Instagram and How To Find Them

  4. Niche Instagram Hashtags To Use for Your Small Business Account

  5. 5 Ways To Find The Best Instagram Hashtags For Your Small Business Account

  6. How to Know If Your Posts Are Showing Up In Instagram Hashtag Search Results




A hashtag is marked with the hash symbol (#). It can be a single word or conjoined words made of letters and numbers, but not symbols or special characters. Once a hashtag is formed, it automatically becomes hyperlinked.

Hashtags assist Instagram to sort, organize and categorize content. So, when a user clicks on the hashtag, it will show all content that carries the corresponding hashtag.

It is a great way for content creators and brands to get to expand their content reach while also helping users find content that they are interested in.

Note: Your account needs to be set to public for your content to be visible in the pool of corresponding hashtags.


So, if you have a public Instagram account and add a hashtag to a post, that post will be visible on the corresponding hashtag page, which is essentially a collection of all the photos and videos that were tagged with that hashtag.


For example, a food influencer might post an image of a delicious smoothie recipe, and use hashtags #smoothierecipes#wholefoodplantbased, and #almondbutter when it’s uploaded to Instagram.


By using these three hashtags, the image is catalogued so other Instagram users who enjoy healthy foods can easily find it.


By adding relevant hashtags, you increase the likelihood of people you are targeting to see and engage with your content. It is an incredibly cost-efficient way of expanding content and campaign reach for brands.

Using relevant, targeted hashtags on your posts and stories is still one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram. And this can translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business.


If you’re using hashtags to get found in search, there are three places you can use hashtags in your Instagram content:

  • Instagram feed posts

  • Instagram stories

  • IGTV


A few things to keep in mind:

  • When people with private profiles tag posts, they won’t appear publicly on hashtag pages

  • Numbers are allowed in hashtags. However, spaces and special characters, like $ or %, won’t work.

  • You can only add hashtags to your own posts. You can’t tag other people’s photos/videos.

  • You can use up to 30 hashtags on a post/IGTV and 10 on a story.






There are many types of popular hashtags, and the list of top Instagram hashtags do change from time to time. Here is a list of most commonly used types of hashtags:

Popular – #love, #food, #nature

Niche – #teethwhitening, #bowties, #freerunning

Seasonal – #summer, #christmas, #valentinesday

Viral – #metoo, #icebucketchallenge, #inmyfeelingschallenge

Campaign – #StrongerTogether, #JustDoIt, #ShareACoke


Understanding the different types of hashtags and their corresponding audiences is key to developing an effective Instagram hashtag strategy.



While the most popular hashtags on Instagram have been used millions of times, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a ton of likes and comments simply by adding #love, #happy, or #dogto your posts.

Those very popular hashtags tend to be quite broad and as a result won’t have as many people following them. These also have high volumes of traffic, so your content will probably get buried in the archives of those popular hashtags before being seen.


Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to find and use hashtags that are smaller, more niche, and have an engaged audience that’s relevant to your industry.


What Are Niche Hashtags?

Niche hashtags are moderately popular hashtags that align to the topic you are speaking to in your post or your general brand identity and will keep your content active for hours into days with more non-followers.

The more conversations users are having around it, so it pays off to really hone-in on a topic or theme. And you’d be surprised by how niche hashtags can get!


For example, let’s say you’re posting a photo of your nourishing face mask. Instead of just tagging #skincare (over 50 million posts), you could also tag #exfoliate (over 700 thousand posts) and #oilyskin (over 400 thousand posts) to reach a more targeted audience of people who share about and are looking to learn tips on taking better care of their oily skin. This is the best way to get a lot of targeted engagement on your posts!


Remember: The Instagram algorithm takes into account how those who see your content react to it, so as your followers are see and engage with it and non-followers see and like it; all those positive signals to Instagram! You’re creating great content that people really like.

And that can lead to your posts gaining more visibility and ranking as a top-performing post in those niche-specific hashtags.





#1: Community Hashtags

Community hashtags are hashtags that connect like-minded users around a specific subject. They’re a great way to connect with others, improve the searchability of your posts, gain followers, and grow your own community.

Here are 8 different types of community hashtags you can use for your business:

  1. Hashtags indicating your product or service, like #facemask or #icecreamshop

  2. Hashtags indicating your niche in your industry, like #businesscoach or #fashionphotographer

  3. Hashtags for Instagram communities in your industry, like #creativesofinstagram or #entrepreneursofinstagram

  4. Hashtags for special events or seasons, like #internationalwomensday or #worldbookday

  5. Hashtags using location, like #londonhairstylist, #madeinafrica, or #lovecapetown

  6. Daily hashtags, like #mondaymotivation, #traveltuesday, or #wellnesswednesday

  7. Hashtags with phrases relevant to what you do, like #photoshoot or #graphicdesigns

  8. Hashtags with acronyms, like #qotd (quote of the day) or #ootd (outfit of the day)


We recommend using a variety of hashtags on your posts and stories so your posts can reach different communities. For instance, if you have a photography studio in Cape Town, you can use #capetownphotographer to reach those looking specifically for photographers in that area, but try also using #photographerlife for those who are interested in your day-to-day life as a photographer.


The best way to find these community-oriented hashtags is by looking to see which hashtags your audience or favourite accounts are already using.

If you’re thinking about creating your own community hashtag, remember that the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users tend to be. Don’t be afraid to find a niche interest or topic that you’d like to build an Instagram community around.



#2: Branded Hashtags

A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s unique to your company when using Instagram for your business. It can be as simple as your company name, tagline, or the name of one of your products or campaigns. Or it can be a hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand name but everything to do with your brand identity!

While community hashtags are there to increase the reach of your message, branded hashtags are designed to connect your business more with its audience. They are typically used to promote campaigns or enable to easy collection of user-generated content (UGC).

For example, the jewellery brand @dearrae uses the hashtag #mydearrae to drive awareness around their brand by giving their followers a place to share their content showcasing Dear Rae products.


Getting your Instagram followers to use your branded hashtag in their posts and stories is key to getting discovered on Instagram by new audiences. Once you create your hashtag, remind customers they can use your business’ hashtag by sharing it on your stories or calling it out in your captions. This way, your followers can tap the hashtag and see other posts about your business.

It’s also a good idea to follow your branded hashtag to keep track of new content that’s being shared!


#3: Campaign Hashtags

While branded and community hashtags are meant to last, campaign hashtags are usually shorter-term and run for just a few days, a season, or a year. The reason campaign hashtags are shorter-term is that they’re usually tied to specific campaigns, like new product launches, special events, or partnerships.


The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding what hashtags to use is that you’re being intentional. Make sure you’re using hashtags that your target audience is actually searching for and following!

Remember to mix things up with your Instagram hashtags in every post, so to avoid being “spammy.” It’s also a good idea to avoid gimmicky hashtags such as #likeforlike, and hashtags that have been used over 1M times. While these hashtags might get you a few extra likes, they aren’t going to help you grow a highly engaged, targeted following.

Instead, try looking for ultra-niche community hashtags that are specifically relevant to the content you post. It’s not a bad idea to use the Niche Hashtag Library in the Content Brainbox to find and mix different Instagram hashtag easily, with them being already organized for you by category. And don’t forget to use your branded hashtag whenever it makes sense! The first step to getting other users to share your branded hashtag is to use it yourself.

So, how can you find these cool, creative, and community-oriented hashtags?


5 Ways To Find The Best Instagram Hashtags For Your Small Business Account:

1. Use The Content Brainbox Niche Hashtag Library

If you need some help finding niche and industry-specific hashtags, then you may want to check out the Content Brainbox’s Niche Hashtag Library.

A collection of relevant hashtags that cover a range of categories and topics and are easily searchable. Ready for entrepreneurs, coaches, influencers and consultants to copy-and-paste right into their content plans or posts.


For example, let’s say you’re posting a photo of a women showing off a beautiful pair of earrings and a silk scarf she’s wearing to promote your business that sells women’s accessories. All you have to do is click on the relevant category buttons you would like to cover in your hashtags (like ‘FASHION’ and ‘SHOP LOCAL’) and simply pick and choose which of these Instagram hashtags you would like to add and copy & paste.



2. Research Your Audience

Throwing random hashtags at the end of your Instagram posts isn’t going to grow your audience. Instead, find out what hashtags your audience is using and see which ones fit the content that you’re publishing.

Your hashtags should be relevant and contain keywords that your audience is actually searching for.


3. Research Your Competitors

It’s always smart to find out what hashtags your competitors are using. By doing so, you can determine which hashtags provide the most engagement.

While it may not be your intention to compete on those hashtags, you could still end up figuring out what your potential customers are talking about and which hashtags they’re using. And maybe you’ll discover new hashtags to add to your repertoire!


4. Research Industry Leaders

One of the best ways to find relevant hashtags is by following Instagram influencers that have the same (or similar) target audience as you.

Every industry has its respective key influencers. Find out who these people are in your niche and use their posts as inspiration. These people are already well-established with your target audience, so why not learn from the best?


5. Find Related Hashtags

Surveying the landscape of trends that are relevant to your own hashtag is an easy and effective way to grow your community.

Simply type your hashtag into the app’s search bar, and then select “tags” from the dropdown menu. You’ll then be able to see all of the top hashtags that are closely related to your own hashtag, revealing additional ways to reach, monitor, and engage with your community.

You can also browse through posts containing a hashtag you’re already having success with. Do you see a trend of any other common hashtags that could be included in future posts? If yes, write them down.


You can also view a list of banned Instagram hashtags here.



How To Know If Your Posts Are Showing Up in Instagram Hashtag Search Results?

How do you know if your hashtags are working? Did you show up in search? Did people find your content?

The easiest way to find out is to review the insights for the post itself. Below your post and above the caption, you’ll see the View Insights link.


Tap on View Insights to open up a small screen of information. Swipe up on that little menu bar to see a full screen of information that tells you how that post performed. Keep scrolling and the bottom of the screen will tell you where your impressions came from, including how many impressions came from hashtags. You won’t be able to tell which individual hashtags produced how many impressions but you’ll see overall hashtag performance.


It’s possible that you may not rank for hashtags or have very little exposure from them. Sometimes that’s because your content just isn’t that good. And if it’s not performing well with your followers, Instagram is unlikely to show it to non-followers. It’s also possible that your content is in a very saturated environment, where it’s simply not a good time to show up in those specific hashtag results.


Not every post will perform well in hashtags. Review and look at multiple posts and see how your hashtags are performing for each of those posts. Consider questions like:

  • How many times did your content show up in hashtag searches and what was the consistency for those higher-performing posts?

  • Was the post timely and relevant, which may have impacted higher search results?

  • Was there a consistent component? Perhaps every time you used the color blue in your content, you got better search results.

  • Take a look at your post details to help determine what content performs better for you.


Note: If you don’t see the option to tap on View Insights, chances are you’re still set up as a personal profile. Insights are only available to business profiles and creator profiles. You’ll need to upgrade your profile to access these features going forward.



Hashtags really are the key to success on Instagram. To reach more people, grow your audience, and get more engagement on your content—across all Instagram components—you need to use hashtags. They allow you to be found by the right people, getting your content to the people who most need (or want) to see it. But you have to be strategic with your hashtags.


What do you think? Are you looking forward to trying out a more strategic approach to hashtags on Instagram?

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