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hacking hashtags

hacking hashtags

Hashtags can be one of the easiest ways to improve your reach and allow new ideal followers to find your content and your page! Let's go over hashtags in a little more detail now.

hashtags 101

what are hashtags?

Hashtags are tags we use on our Instagram content, in order to describe our post, our niche, and the value we provide. Hashtags can be absolutely great for getting your account out there. They can dramatically increase your reach - getting more new eyes on your profile than ever before. More reach = more engagement, and even more followers! Hashtags are the tool you can't miss out on, and this lesson is going to teach you all about them!

why use hashtags?

Did you know that using hashtags can boost your engagement by 12.6% or more?! Hashtags are effectively Instagram's equivalent of web SEO, and making sure that you're using the right hashtags for your profile as content is imperative if you want to grow! Using the right hashtags can expose you to a whole new audience, and even land you on the explore page! In this section we are going to talk all about hashtags; when you should use them, how you should use them, and how and where to find the fight ones for you! First let's look at the different types of hashtags that you can use.

how are hashtags ranked?

In order to get up into those coveted top 9 spots - it's important to understand exactly how hashtags are ranked. Instagram ranks posts in hashtags as a result of three factors: timeliness of engagement, engagement from new accounts, relative engagement rate.

Timeliness of engagement

does your post receive significant engagement from your audience in the first 10-30 minutes? Remember how the algorithm works. Our posts are pushed out to around 10% of our audience, if a large portion of these followers engage in a timely manner (first 10-15 mins), then it will push it out to ore of our followers. If they engage within the next 15 mins or so, Instagram will see this post as extremely high value - and start pushing it out to prospective new audiences on hashtags and explore pages

Engagement from new accounts

In order to start climbing your way further up the top of these hashtag pages, Instagram needs to know that your content is valuable for a new audience - not just those following you already. If a new audience starts to engage with your content, this will let Instagram know that it is valuable enough to rank higher to even more people

Relative engagement rate

Lastly, the post must receive a similar amount of engagement to posts that usually rank in the top 9 of a hashtag page! This will show its relative value amongst other posts. This is why using a large number of smaller hashtags will veer you well. If you are using a large amount of large hashtags, it is unlikely you will rank, as the average amount of engagement for top posts in large hashtags will likely be much larger.

Right, now let's get in to the different types of hashtags we can start using to get ranking!

types of hashtags


A hashtag that references; what you do, what industry you work in, what industry the brand or service you are promoting is in, or what industry the post is referring to, for example #photographer #blogger #influencer #retail. These are quite general hashtags and will bring up many posts, so try not to use too many of them


Niche hashtags are anything specific. For example, if you wanted to get a bit more 'niche' on the previous hashtags, you could use #weddingphotographer #fashionblogger #beautyinfluencer.


Brand specific hashtags. Use these if you are working with or wearing a brand in your photo, or reacting to a call out for a competition or campaign for a brand. For example, campaign hashtags such as #shareacoke by Coca Cola, #LetsDoLunch by Domino's Pizza, or simply brand hashtags such as #nike #topshop. You can always make these more niche by adding various relevent nouns, such as #nikeshoes #asosjeans etc.


Community hashtags really are what they say on the tin, hashtags that represent different communities! There are loads out there, why not look at community tags similar account to yours are using! Some good examples are #wanderlust #traveltheworld and #goexplore (travel) #shakemybeauty #bodypositivity (body positivity movement) #bossbabe #ceomindset #womeninbusiness (entrepreneurs), #beautiejunkie #makeupmafia #beautycommunity (beauty - there's a tonne out there to match all of the different niches you ascribe your page too, go find your tribe!


Location based hashtags, such as #prettycitylondon #iheartnewyork and #luckywelivehawaii


Any hashtag related to an event. Many events will have their own personalised hashtags. I can guarantee if you're at an event that does, you'll be able to find it somewhere - either on the event holder's own instagram, other posts about the event, on flyers, posters or screens around the event. Examples could be #comicon2020 or #superbowl


A hashtag that represents a celebration or cultural event. For example, #christmas2020 #NYE #pridemonth #blackhistorymonth

high-density hashtags

'High-Density Hashtags are those with a lot of posts, or in other words, hashtags a lot of people use! High-density hashtags are usually described as those with 500k+ posts, although the description varies depending on who you ask. High-density = a lot of competition, making it harder to rank in the coveted 'top nine' spots when that hashtag is searched.

low-density hashtags

Low-Density Hashtags are the opposite. These are very niche posts that don't have too many people using them, and therefore have a lower rate of competition, and are easier to rank higher in/get discovered by using. These are usually related to different niches or communities. You can even make up your own and get your community to start using it!

our go-to hashtag strategy [video]

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your hashtag questions answered

how many hashtags should you use?

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post. One speculative rumour surrounding the best use of hashtags, is that you should never use the full 30. This is not true, but you should never use hashtags that are unnecessary. For example, if you can think of 30 hashtags that are absolutely relevant to your post and profile, then by all means use them! However if you can only think of 12, and use the other 18 as filler hashtags... then this wont get you very far. If your post does not match the hashtags Instagram will know, and start to show it around to less people. Make sure you are using a mix of the different types of hashtags listed above to get the best reach!

how can I tell if they're relevant?

A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is either searching through that hashtag, or follows that hashtag. If you think your post is the type of post that person would expect to see, then you're on the right path! However.... if your post does not fit in with the hashtag, you probably shouldn't use it. If you're still not sure, take a moment to browse through the hashtag in question yourself. Look at the top posts and compare it to yours. is the content similar or not? This should help you to decide.

should I put my hashtags in the caption or the comments?

Where to put your hashtags will vary depending on who you ask, in truth there really is not difference, it all comes down to personal preference. Hashtags in the caption are easier to remember to do (you have to comment your hashtags relevantly straight away - we'd say within the first 10 minutes of posting, if you'd like to rank), and hashtags in the comments can lead your captions themselves to look neater and a bit more put together. The rumour of hashtags not ranking if you put them in the comments instead of the caption is nothing but that, a rumour. 

should I use big/high density hashtags?

In my personal opinion, I would not use high-density hashtags if possible, for the reasons mentioned earlier in this lesson. It is much harder to rank in larger hashtags, which reduces space for use of other hashtags you could rank in, and it has been suggested that poor ranking on one hashtag might even dull your chances of ranking as high in smaller hashtags due to a trickle down effect of relative engagement.

where to find good hashtags

where can I find good hashtags?

For this question I have three good answers. The first one is to look at what hashtags other people in your niche are using. Go through and look at a few different posts from different accounts, take the ones that you think best apply to your post. Remember, the more accurate your hashtags are, the more people they'll be shown to, don't use irrelevant hashtags!


Next I would recommend searching a few of the hashtags that you are sure of on Instagram, and see what other hashtags the people in the top posts are using with them. It is likely they will go together well with your post too.

Thirdly, download the app 'hashtag expert' It has some free features with an optional monthly payment option to access the full app. The price is low and I would definitely recommend the full version. Such a helpful tool!



Hashtags 101
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