Hashtags on Instagram: how to use them to have more subscribers?


Instagram is the social network of the moment.

It must be said that Instagram reached the 700 million users a few months ago and seems to come dangerously close to the 800 million.
Personally, I find this network rather exciting from a marketing point of view.
Marketing on Instagram is simple. Companies (small or medium) promote their products in 2 ways:
Directly to their Instagram account (native and sponsored publications).
Through influencers.
Personally, I do not find it disturbing and every week I discover new inspiring accounts.
In addition, I regularly observe what brands do to strengthen their brand image and promote their products.
In short, I’m a fan of Instagram.
A few years ago, the Instagram application was quite different from what it is today.
Initially, it was a simple application where you publish your vacation photos with the possibility of adding filters.
It is precisely these filters that have enabled Instagram to differentiate itself from its competitors of the time (Pinterest, Flickr, etc.).
At the time, it was also not possible to discuss with its followers unlike Facebook and Twitter.
As a result, the app was a little less successful.
Then, the videos (in a format of maximum 15 seconds in their beginnings) made their entry in the platform.
With the video, Instagram has gradually attracted a greater audience, and of course the big brands.
Always delighted to use social networks to promote their products.Since May 2016, the platform has changed at a breathtaking speed, beginning with a redesign of the app’s design and logo.Since then, many new features have been implemented on Instagram. Among them, there were:The Instagram Stories which now have more than 250 million users every day.
The possibility of making Stories in Live, the trend of the moment.Enhancements to instant messaging: Instagram Direct.The ability to add photo albums.A new opportunity for e-commerce sites and brands to promote their products by using multiple photos in a single album, as does Nike.

hashtags nike hashtags nike

Whereas before, there were rather big brands and public personalities.

Instagram now attracts many companies / brands of smaller sizes ready to integrate this social network in their marketing strategy and of course enjoy the notoriety of influencers …

Typically, this is what a marketing campaign on Instagram looks like via influencers:

hashtags instagram

You can clearly see here an ad for product in the description caption.

The goal here for the brand is to increase its brand awareness by using the notoriety of an influencer (which in addition has more subscribers than the brand itself!).

In the end, everyone is happy. The influencer and the brand both gain notoriety.

Instagram has a strong community aspect. People are thrilled to participate in a contest even though it is basically a promotional effort.

I forgot, the organization of the contest costs virtually nothing to the brand.

You now see the potential of Instagram for your brand?

So, many of us want to get started on Instagram.

On some social networks like Facebook or Youtube, it is a real challenge to get your first 100 fans.
On Instagram, it’s much simpler!

Why ?
Because there are the Hashtags.
And they are enormously used by Instagram users to find new accounts.



What is a Hashtag?

For perfect beginners, hashtags are words or sentences preceded by a sharp (#).
Each publication you create can be accompanied by a small message (legend) and some hashtags.

The hashtags allow categorizing and finding content on Instagram related to a particular topic or trend.

For example, if you are a runner, you can post a photo of you running and tag it with hashtags like #running, #runners, and so on.


hahstags running

Using hashtags, your images are categorized and other Instagram users who are interested in running will be able to find your photos.

In this article we will discuss together how to use Instagram Search (the search engine of Instagram) to:

  • Identify your competitors and the hashtags they use.
  • Identify influencers at the same time
  • Which hashtags to use for your publications.

Why use hashtags?

On Instagram, using good hashtags can allow you to expose your brand to a potentially large and targeted audience.
They also allow you to monitor what your competitors are doing:
What types of content work best for them?
Which groups of hashtags do they use in their publications?
What is the average engagement rate of their posts?
(We will see in detail how to learn from your competitors and enjoy their large number of followers later in this article).

Finally, your chances of attracting new subscribers, getting likes and commitment on your photos are much higher by adding hashtags in your publications.

According to Simply Measured, publications with at least one hashtag have on average 12.6% more commitment than those without.


How to get targeted subscribers through hashtags

As I said, hashtags on Instagram allow you to monitor what your competitors are doing.
The idea is to find your competitors by searching for the hashtags they use and then follow their subscribers!
Here’s how to do it in 4 steps.

Step 1: Identify a niche

Any marketing strategy starts with that: identify a niche (market segment in a thematic).
The success on Instagram begins with the choice of a theme where a visual universe is adapted as:

Sport (whatever it is)

The Fitness

The health

The kitchen


Fashion (make-up, clothing, etc.)

Personal development
+ All other themes where one can create a visual universe.

Then identify a small segment that you would like to conquer in one of these themes:
The Vegetarian Kitchen
Body weight training
American cars


This Instagram account as been turned into a recipe book.

After you have identified your niche, make the promise to publish only content related to that niche.
For example, if I had an Instagram account on nutrition, I would avoid publishing car pictures …

Remember this: On the Internet (and as in all areas for that matter), you have to start small. In other words, find a small market segment (niche) where you can impose yourself as a reference.

Then you can expand as your audience grows.
And then, “when you try to please everyone, you end up seducing nobody …”

Step 2: Identify your competitors

How do you know your competitors if you have never met them?
To find them, nothing more simple, you just have to go on Instagram Search (the search engine of Instagram).
Go to the “#” tab for hashtags and type the keyword of your choice.

Here is an example for nutrition.
I do a search on a generic keyword: food.

Instagram gives me suggestions for this hashtag and other similar hashtags.

Even though there are more posts for the hashtag “food”, I prefer to aim for “healthy food” because it is a little more precise.


Here is what I see after choosing “healthy food”: 9 posts at the top of the results.


They are considered the most popular posts of the moment, either because they were posted by influencers, or because they are posts that have received many interactions!
Engagement is the criterion N ° 1 to arrive in the best publications for a hashtag.
Just below these 9 publications, you will find the most recent publications.
In any case, it is on these 9 publications that I will click to start my search.

Let’s try to click on second one.
Here I arrive on the page of “foodhabits”


Immediately, I see in the description that it is a site of well-being that offers to try recipe right away,  In addition, the account has nearly 100K followers!

Step 3: Follow the followers of this account!

Not all at the same time, you might be categorized as a Spammer by Instagram.

Instagram does not like spammers, you could be banned.

Be careful!

Aim 20 followers per hour to start.

All you have to do is follow the subscribers of your competitors (similar pages to yours) and repeat every day this process, and I guarantee you will have more followers.

In addition, like their photos and add comments (useful please) to better get you noticed.

In addition, these followers will be targeted since they already follow accounts like yours.

If you publish content just as interesting as your competitors, they have no reason not to follow you in return.

Step 4 (optional): Contact the influencer

If the account has at least 100k fans and 3% engagement (likes + comments) on its publications, chances are it is an influencer.

The method I just showed you (search by hashtags) is free and takes much longer.

Fortunately there are paid tools to identify influencers like Ninja Outreach.

With Instagram Direct (Instagram instant messaging), you can directly contact the influencers of your topic and establish partnerships with them.

How to tag your publications

We have just seen how to use Instagram Search to find relevant hashtags, find influencers and at the same time Instagram accounts potentially interested in our content ?

Unfortunately, this is far from enough.

You can post 10 times a day on Instagram but if you do not accompany your photos of hashtags, only a part of your subscribers will see your photos.

On Instagram, hashtags essentially offer you visibility.

As in Google where one surfs by looking for a particular word. On Instagram, one uses the hashtags to find contents in a specific topic and one stops occasionally on an interesting account.

This is why using hashtags is important because it allows you to be discovered by other users. But what hashtags to use?

If you start using too generic hashtags such as # happy and # owl, you will surely win about 20 followers on the spot, but this will not be the right followers.

Your goal is to have targeted subscribers, right?
Here’s how.

Step 1: Look for a generic keyword

Let’s say, today is the only day i can eat “bad”, i am happy i eat a burger  I’m posting my burger on instagram.
Instinctively the first hashtag that comes to mind is #burger.

This is a generic keyword.

Let’s do a search.
Instagram will suggest other hashtags similar to mine.

No need to guess the popularity of a hashtag, Instagram provides us directly the number of publications containing that particular hashtag (just below the hashtag in question)!



Step 2: Identify the most popular and relevant hashtags

You define yourself the relevance of a hashtag, it all depends on your niche and the publication in question.

Click on #burgerday.
Again, Instagram has selected the best publications for us.
You can click on these 9 photos to see what other hashtags have been used in addition to the hashtag #burgerday.

But what is really interesting is the selection of related hashtags that Instagram offers.
With this system, you can go from hashtag to hashtag and thus find new ideas for your publications.
In addition, you have an eye on hashtags previously used by other Instagrammers who have managed to place themselves in the best publications.

Step 3: Repeat the process for other generic keywords

In just a few minutes, you will have found some thirty hashtags, some more generic and some more targeted ones that could be useful to you.

Write them down in an excel spreadsheet so you do not forget them.
If possible, classify them into categories.
For each hashtag, also add the number of publications by hashtags to evaluate their popularity.

Step 4: Add 5 to 10 hashtags

Some research has been done on the optimal number of Hashtags and it seems that the optimal number varies between 5 and 10.
It also seems that Instagram does not allow more than 30 hashtags to comment!
The hashtags can be added to your publications in two ways

  • Directly in the legend of your photos at the time you publish them.
  • In the comments.

My advice: use one or two relevant hashtags in the caption of your photos and the rest in the comments, like this Instagram account.


That is, you know how to find hashtags for your publications.
Obviously with time, you will know by heart your hashtags and you will no longer need your Excel spreadsheet to remember it.

Post at least once a day

If you do not post on Instagram, no one will take the time to follow you either.
How many times a day should I post?
One study showed that the most popular Instagram profiles posed more often than the others.

For example, profiles with 10-100 thousand subscribers post an average of 41 times a month.

And those with more than 1 million fans post up to 90 times a month!

So it seems that the more you post frequently, the better.

This seems logical since you are constantly bringing content to your audience.

So post at least 1 time a day and vary your content: photos, videos and Instagram Stories.

The key is to be enduring over time and avoid letting spend several days between your publications.



Without hashtags, it is not possible to make a name on Instagram.
Of course, publishing good content and making partnerships are paramount to get to know each other.
It all starts with hashtags because without them nobody sees your publications.
Without them, it is difficult to identify influencers of your topic and observe what your competitors do.

My goal in writing this article was to show you how to use the Instagram Search engine to:
Find the heavyweights of your theme and enjoy their audience.
Know the hashtags they use to use them in your publications.

Your turn now !