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How to Increase Engagement on Instagram: Hashtags

Mar 31, 2017 by Sika Degbo

Instagram Hashtags are the magical solution for your posts that aren’t getting the love they deserve.

Instagram is the visually centered, mobile-first social platform that allows users to post photos, videos, gif-like “boomerangs” and, most recently, insta-stories which are similar to Snapchat’s stories – deleting after 24 hours. Instagram also now allows users to go live (the verdict is still out on how successful this is on the platform). What we’re most interested in for this blog is driving engagement for the posts that live on your brand’s public page. These can be photos, videos or boomerangs which will play as videos.

So, how do you get people to like and comment on all of those posts you worked so hard to create? Easy answer: Hashtags! Load your post up with relevant hashtags and it’ll be flooded with love from all over the insta-verse. Hashtags help your posts reach users who are actively looking for content like yours. Once you place a hashtag on your post it helps to categorize it and the post will then show up on the page of the designated tag with other similar posts.


For example, if I’m a user named Lindsey and I’m looking for interior design tips, I may browse through the hashtags #apartmentgoals, #homeinspo and #interiordesign. If your brand is an apartment building with beautiful interiors (like many of our clients), then adding those hashtags to your relevant photos will allow you to reach Lindsey and anyone else interested in those tags. Keep in mind that you can only use up to 30 tags on a single post, so choose wisely!



Other hashtag categories that are helpful to include are:

  • Whatever is in your photo (#clubroom #commonroom #pancakes)
    • This can include the room, the items, food, the restaurant, etc. Try to describe the photo accurately but there’s no need to get too specific. Just because there’s a glass of water in your photo doesn’t mean you need to include a hashtag for it.
  • Location-based tags (#DMV #thedistrict #ExploreDC #capitolhill)
    • Try to include the larger area and the more specific area. For example, #DMV includes the larger Washington metropolitan area while #capitolhill helps to place your image in a more specific neighborhood.
  • Curators in the area (#BYThings #aCreativeDC)
    • This will vary by location. DC is fortunate to have a couple of tastemakers that are good at liking and sharing posts that align with their mission.
  • Daily tags (#WednesdayWisdom #MondayMotivation #SundayFunday #TBT* #FBF* #StPatricksDay #NationalPancakeDay)
    • Instagram traffic to these day-specific tags and others will greatly increase the reach of your post. These topics are top of mind for users when the day rolls around. So don’t be afraid to do a quote post or simply tack on an inspiring caption for a #WednesdayWisdom engagement boost.
    • *Note: TBT stands for Throwback Thursday and FBF stands for Flashback Friday. Post something from last week or last year to join either hashtag!

Now that you know why to hashtag and what to hashtag, you need to know how to hashtag. Here’s the best practice for hashtagging.

It’s unclear whether users actually care if a caption is full of hashtags or not, but it just looks much cleaner in the feed when they’re hidden out of sight. To keep your post’s caption free of the clutter of hashtags, you can post them as a comment right after you send your post live. If you post a period and then hit return to have a period on each line five times before adding your hashtags (seen in the image above), then they’ll be hidden as your followers are scrolling through their feed.

Bonus Instagram engagement tips:

  • Optimize your tags
    • If you’re between #DMV and #DMVmetro, you can use the search function to see the amount of posts currently using the hashtag you’re considering.
  • Add a location to your post
    • Even if it’s only the city that you’re located in, it will help people find your post.
  • Tag businesses, locations, people in your posts
    • Don’t forget some parks/areas have social handles! Tagging them will help people find your post and it builds a good rapport that you’re giving them free publicity.
  • Like and/or reply to those who are engaging with your content
    • Don’t forget to show love back to the people who are engaging with your content. Say thank you or hit the recently instated little heart to like positive comments about your post or brand.