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How small brands discover top hashtags for Instagram

Ranking for popular hashtags on Instagram is challenging, particularly when many brands repeatedly use the same hashtags in a crowded industry.
In this article, we’ll share a few better alternatives to generate small but consistent traffic from Instagram hashtags and reach new audiences.
 

What are hashtags?

A hashtag is a singular word or series of words used in the description of Instagram posts, the comments section, or in stories. They are marked with the "#" symbol, and their primary objective is to help the platform organize and categorize the content.
The Instagram algorithm aims to show the right content to the right users by organizing and categorizing content. For brands and content creators, the main goal of using hashtags is to reach and engage with fresh, new audiences.
 

How to find valuable hashtags for your brand

Check out what your audience is already using
As a small brand owner or marketer, you have a rough idea of your audience, but the challenging part is finding out what hashtags they use when browsing for products. A customer rarely posts on Instagram when they buy a new product or service, except in very few cases.
Instead, you can check what micro-influencers in your niche post on Instagram.
If you read this guide, you learned that micro-influencers build tight-knit, authentic communities which are always eager to discover products. Have a look at five micro-influencers in your niche and see what hashtags they use regularly.
To do this, head over to the Explore tab and start searching. We recommend staying away from hashtags with a high volume of searches, as it will be hard to rank for those; from our data, we believe between 10k and 100k is a safe range to start with.
Start a short Excel document to track the hashtags you find relevant for your Instagram account and use them in your posts.
 
What are your competitors using?
Check what your competitors are using to understand better what hashtags you can use or search for. The process here is straightforward: use the same Excel document you started and import relevant hashtags your competitors are using.
Of course, we advise you not to copy-paste what they use but rather try to find some hidden gems that seem relevant to test out.
 
Takeaway - keep it simple.
A search on Google will reveal countless methods and secret ways to find hashtags that will make or break your game. From our point of view and experience, with these two methods above, you can put a process in place that will:
  • not require a lot of time to set up and run
  • be more than enough to start and optimize as you go
Small brand owners don't have the time and energy to research hashtags.
So instead, start simple, measure, and adapt as you go. Another reason why we think it's worth keeping it simple: the Instagram algorithm is constantly improved, tweaked or updated, so the rules change too fast to keep it up sometimes.
On top of these two methods, you can use a social media scheduling tool like later.com that also offers a hashtag discovery function.
 

Best practices

How many hashtags should you use per post?
Instagram allows its users to add a maximum of 30 hashtags per post. There is no right or wrong here; use as many as you discover, depending on your objectives and time availability.
 
Should brands use hashtags in all their posts?
Yes, both brands and creators or anyone trying to reach and engage with more people should use hashtags in all their posts; place them either in comments or descriptions.
Avoid using the exact same hashtags in the same order for every individual post you make; Instagram might flag this as suspicious; instead, mix them up and constantly add new entries instead of those that don't perform.
 
Should brands use hashtags in stories and reels?
Yes, of course. Add up to three hashtags for each story or reel; more than three will become quite messy and visually annoying for users, so our advice is to keep it simple.
 

How to track the top hashtags for Instagram

Follow these simple steps:
  • Head over to any Instagram post on your page
  • View Insights
  • Scroll to Reach
  • From Hashtags or From Explore
It will show you precisely how many users visited your profile from the mix of hashtags you used for the specific post.
 

Final Notes

Keep the process simple and efficient by researching and measuring what hashtags work for your brand and avoid overcomplicating things. From our perspective, hashtags only won’t do miracles for your social media presence but mixed with an awesome content strategy, they both can reach and engage new audiences.