How to Use Hashtag Marketing on Instagram: 3 Basic Rules

According to the most recent research, there are more than 4 billion active internet users worldwide with 3.1 billion using social media for networking, business, personal promotion, or simply to check out the latest celebrity post. If you’ve honed in on the target audience for your small business, social media can be an excellent way to promote your products or services.

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Instagram is an especially powerful marketing tool with more than a billion active users sharing, liking, and commenting on all kinds of photos and videos. Business users can grow their revenue through a number of Instagram features like Dynamic Ads and Shopping, but also through sponsored content, collaborations and promotions.

There’s another effective tool that’s simple to use and free. Erin Schneider, editor at an online affordable essay writing service says, “Even without all these amazing features, Instagram still holds a large marketing potential thanks to a little thing called hashtag.”

Here’s how to use hashtags to increase your brand awareness, revenue, and website traffic.

What are hashtags and how do they work?

The hashtag - # - first appeared on Twitter where it was used to group discussions according to topic. Later on, the use of hashtag spread across other social networks, Instagram included.

It's almost impossible to see an Instagram post that has no hashtags, especially on posts that originate from business accounts. One reason hashtags are popular is that they allow users to access all posts relevant to whatever goes behind the # sign.

For example, if you write #yoga, your post will be grouped with other content under the same hashtag. In short, hashtags allow you to reach people interested in what you have to offer.

Here’s an example of how SmartBiz Loans uses hashtags to reach small business owners across the U.S.



Make hashtags specific

One of the most common mistakes people make with hashtags is that they don’t get specific enough. Let’s say that you’re trying to promote a sale on kid’s jeans. Posting a content under a hashtag that goes #jeans or #sale or both is not specific enough and will group you with a variety of content that won’t connect you to the target audience you need.

On the other side #kidsjeansonsale, #kidsjeans or variations of this type would more likely group your content with the posts that are interesting to your target audience.



Make your posts visible to everyone

Posting content that’s visible only to your followers will hinder your reach, no matter how well-crafted your hashtag might be. Unless your posts are public, only those that already follow your posts will be able to reach that content.

If the post is public, your hashtag will reach people that possibly weren’t aware of your brand. If you use the right hashtag, there’s a good chance you’ll gain new followers, one of the indicators of a successful marketing campaign.

Use popular hashtags

There are many popular hashtags that Instagram users check on a daily basis. It’s a smart marketing strategy to make use of those existing hashtags to promote your brand.

For example, one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram is #TBT which is an abbreviation for ThrowBackThursday. Nostalgia for the past gets the most attention on Instagram every Thursday of the week when people post past content or content related to the past using #TBT hashtag.

To find popular hashtags, check out this post from the IZEA blog: 25 Always-Trending Hashtags


According to statistics, 7 out of 10 hashtags on Instagram are related to a brand, which says enough about the importance of hashtags in online marketing. Hashtags are also promoted on TV, billboards and print advertisements.

When it comes to the number of hashtags needed to successfully promote a content, it's estimated that 11 hashtags per post are the optimum number. Moreover, a single hashtag can lead to a 12.6 percent higher audience engagement. Hashtags are not just a way to group your content, they expand your reach, increase brand awareness and can spike engagement.

Interested in more social media tips? Visit these posts from the SmartBiz Small Business Blog:


About the Author

Samantha R. Gilbert has been working as a journalist at an online-publishing agency in New York, USA for 2 years. She is also professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, modern art and education. Meet Samantha on Twitter.