By now you should know exactly which clients should be on Instagram and when they should use it. But today, let’s talk about the one thing that will make or break your client’s Instagram campaign:


What Are Instagram Hashtags?

Hashtags are basically keywords with the hash mark (#) in front of them. Most social media platforms use hashtags to some degree to tag posts according to a specific category (hence the name).

For example, if I share a photo of my dog and want other dog lovers to see it, I can add the hashtag #dog.

But hashtags can be creative. Variations on the #dog hashtag include #doglover, #doglife, #dogsofinstagram, and #omgdogseverywhere. This doesn’t even include branded hashtags like #purinadogs and #petsmartdogs.

Instagram only allows 30 hashtags per post, so you need to make sure you’re using the best one for the job, while not going overboard (yes, I’m talking about the Instagram shadowban).

So far, you can use hashtags on pretty much every social media platform from static to live content. You can even on different social network features, such as your Instagram feed and Instagram Stories, for example.

How Do I Find The Best Instagram Hashtags?

There’s no HeyOrca tool or native in-app tool on any social network that lets agencies compare different hashtags in a convenient manner. But, there are still plenty of different and effective ways of finding a great IG hashtag.

Here are my tips:

1. Native Search

Tap the search function in your regular Instagram app and type in a keyword that relates to your business (e.g. dog). Then look for the tab along the top of the screen that says Tags. You can do a quick visual comparison of popular tags based on the number of posts listed under each option.

You can even do a quick secondary search by clicking one of the listed hashtags, which will display a different range of hashtags related to your choice.

Note: conventional wisdom suggests that the more posts there are in a hashtag, the better. But this might not actually be the best approach. You may end up competing with many other businesses or Instagram users who have a stronger following, better content, or more posts than you. This might result in you getting drowned out (and therefore ignored) by other users. Try using hashtags that have a slightly lower number of posts than the most popular hashtags in the niche.

So, if you’re really looking for a bang for your buck, consider using longer, more niche hashtags (i.e. #ShibasOfInstagram rather than #dogs). This will help you target a smaller audience, get noticed easier, and become part of a niche community over time.

If you’ve heard of “long tail search terms in SEO“, the same logic applies.

2. Scan Influencer Hashtags

You want to use hashtags to get eyes on your client’s posts, so why not try the hashtags of people who are already popular?

Visit the Instagram accounts of popular influencers in your client’s niche and note which hashtags they tend to use. Focus on influencers who have followers in the 5-digits (10,000+) and who post on a regular basis with a high level of engagement.

Don’t grab every single hashtag on their feed, though. Focus on the hashtags from their most popular IG posts.

Do your due diligence even after compiling that list; check each individual hashtag for how many posts there are, to assess whether or not it’s worth including in your client’s own social media strategy.

3. Copy Competitor Hashtags

You might not have beaten your client’s competitors to Instagram, but you can for sure beat them at their own game!

Scan for your client’s competitors on IG and check out how well (or poorly) they’re doing. Check out the best performing posts on their feed and inspect the hashtags the same way we did for the influencers.

Also check out the lowest performing posts on their feed. If they happened to be using the popular hashtags, try to reason out why the post failed. Is the image of poor quality? Is the image not relevant to the hashtag they used? Was there something in the captions that could’ve been a turn-off?

Any insight you can glean could have a potentially large impact on your own efforts.

4. Use A Tool Or Reference Sites

Just because Instagram doesn’t have a native feature that lets you analyze large numbers of hashtags at scale, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. Other people have done the work of cataloging and analyzing popular hashtags for you.

All Hashtag lets you search for a specific keyword, and then assembles a list of those top 30 keywords into a format where you can easily copy them into an Instagram post. It’s quick, convenient, and free.

The downside of this tool is that it doesn’t show you how many posts these hashtags have. Plus, you have no control over which hashtags get pulled. If it’s among the 30 related to the keyword, it gets included. There is a metrics tool, but it’s not very useful. We suggest using this tool to get a few popular hashtags based on specific keywords, and analyzing their potential elsewhere. does the same thing, but has the added benefit of including the number of posts next to the results. You can filter for a specific keyword, and the site will give you the highest performing hashtags in that niche.

If you click on one of the results, it will take you to a page with more hashtag choices–although it has the same problem of not being able to apply more filters to cut down the selection.

Hashtags for Likes is the nicest looking site of the three, and conveniently organizes hashtags for you based on a number of categories. You still can’t see the numbers of individual hashtags, so you’ll have to trust that the algorithm pulling these hashtags is up to date. Again, it would be wise for you to independently verify the hashtags you find here.

Assembling Your Own List

Every client is different. A hashtag that works for one brand might not work for another, even if they’re in the same industry. Measure the performance of each hashtag in your own client database so that you can figure out which brings the best results over time.

Measure things like:

  • Engagement (likes, comments, saves)
  • Number of impressions
  • Number of unique visitors
  • Change in number of followers

Use a tool like TrackMaven to measure the above metrics so you can discover which Instagram hashtags are engaging the most people and delivering value to your client. Soon, you’ll be navigating Instagram and slinging hashtags around like a pro.

Remember: growing your following and getting noticed on social media isn’t just about using the right tags. It’s also about consistency, frequency, and engagement!


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