Instagram is growing every day in every way. Did you know there are currently 8 million Instagram Business profiles? This is up from 1.6 million in September 2016! (1)

Many of you are no doubt already using hashtags on Instagram but only some of you will be using them to your advantage. If it’s costing you time, it’s costing you money, so you want to do it right, right?

So here are a few top tips in mastering the art of using hashtags successfully on Instagram. If you are already a hashtagging king or queen, stop reading now. But if you are skulking in the wings, this article should help.

Variety is key

Yes, we know it’s tempting, but try not to simply copy and paste the same hashtags into every post. Variety is always the spice of life! Maybe have a few groups of hashtags saved in your Notes app, that you can quickly copy and paste, but then spend a little time changing and moving a few. Instagram will like that.

You want to be reaching out to slightly different audiences within your target across the week. If your hashtags are varied, you’ll be able to do this more effectively. Your posts should reach their full potential.

Keep it #short and #sweet

We know it’s easy to simply hashtag what is being shown in the image or video you have uploaded to Instagram. For example, if you’re a wedding cake shop, don’t just hashtag #my #cakes #are #pink. Yes, you will see lots of people do this, believe me. Instead, use a variety of relevant hashtags such as #weddingcake and #specialist or #cakeart. It helps you to stand out from the generic descriptive hashtags and gains you relevant engagement.

Ultimately, it will also get you found. In layperson’s terms, nobody who is seeking a spectacular wedding cake is going to be searching for it under the hashtag #my.

Avoid generic hashtags such as #like4like or #followforfollow

Why risk your reputation for a deluge of likes and followers that will do nothing for your business other than increase the number of the likes on your post? It is not purely about numbers – it is about relevance.

We talk about this time and time again. No matter what social media platform you are using. Would you rather have 1,000 Facebook followers and 20 who are genuinely interested in you, or 200 followers and 100 who are genuinely interested in you?

Using generic click bait hashtags such as #likeforlike do nothing in the long run except boost your vanity numbers. These spam-like hashtags don’t attract users who are actually interested in your content… merely ones who are interested in a #followback. On that note, never get disheartened if people un-follow you just because you haven’t followed them back. It’s their loss.

Also, as a business, it can be off putting to see a company using such hashtags. It looks unprofessional and will more likely repel the more savvy customers.


Nope, it’s not complicated, no matter what any “gurus” may say. Hashtagging is just a bit of a fine art with a few simple rules. Hashtags are supposed to make you more discoverable to a wider audience. They essentially help people find you.

So avoid any temptation to overcomplicate things by using long winded hashtags such as #imakeamazingweddingcakes. They are a b*gger to spell too, and sometimes to read.

Keep it simple. For example; #incrediblecakes. The more natural your hashtag is, the more likely it is that people will find it organically.

Getting the balance just right

It’s important not to overload your post with hashtags. This is for many reasons but a big one being; it looks messy! After all, Instagram is about creating a visually pleasing experience. We advise bumping your group of hashtags a few line breaks down after your post. You may see people doing this by using full stops or bullet points.

However, we have found the sweet spot to be between a dozen and 30 hashtags per post. Using 30 hashtags will certainly allow you to promote to a larger audience and give you more exposure to your target audience.

You might want to use the hashtags that have the most posts behind it, but we advise against this. The benefit of using hashtags with fewer posts behind them means you have less competition. Which also means that your post is less likely to be lost in a feed full of the same posts. Hashtags that are used less frequently are not as competitive which allows you to be more discoverable. Go for niche (but not too niche).

Know what you’re posting

As a professional business, it’s essential you know and understand the meaning of the hashtags you are using.

The general rule is to avoid using demeaning hashtags that may cause offence or controversy and damage the image of your business. Before posting, try searching for your hashtag and take note as to what posts show up.

Use your competition

Our top tip is to spend time researching and learning ‘what’ and ‘where’ your audience searches. It’s also a good idea to find out what hashtags your ideal followers are following. By knowing this information, it narrows down the hashtag field you should be including in your posts.

Finally, browse which hashtags your competitors use and search for the hashtag on Instagram and see who else is using them.


Since you can now include hashtags on your Instagram Stories – what better way to bring new engagement and potential followers? This enables your story to  be viewed by users searching for that specific hashtag, i.e. your target audience!

However, don’t get carried away, as all the same rules apply. Ensure you keep hashtags varied, avoid using spammy ones and stay relevant to your post.


So, there you go. Hashtags are there for a reason. Using key words in your posts without a hashtag won’t help you become more discoverable. Hashtags are essential!

Here at Key 3 Media, we are big fans of Instagram and the mighty hashtag. If you feel you need a boost with your company’s Instagram – we’d love to help.

Our team offers a bespoke service in Social Media Management. To find out more, please call 01743 491 356 or visit our website here.




Instagram management