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Growth Hack – 11 Ways to Increase Instagram Followers with Hashtags

Source: unsplash

Do you struggle with using hashtags effectively in your Instagram marketing strategy? Instagram can be a powerful tool in your social media marketing strategy, but you need to know how to reach your target audience to be successful. Hashtags are one of the most important components of getting your content in front of people that want to engage with you, which will earn you more followers and help you grow your brand.

Find out how to increase your Instagram following by using these 11 growth hacking tips.

What Are Hashtags?

Hashtags are keywords preceded by a # (#keyword). They’re used across social media platforms to index posts which makes them searchable by users.

Ways to Increase Instagram Followers with HashtagsSource: Instagram

Why Should I Use Instagram Hashtags?

Utilizing hashtags on Instagram allows your posts to be discovered by users who have an interest in the keywords you selected. This means your content will be in front of people who are likely to be interested in what you’re posting, making them more likely to follow you and engage with your future content.

Understanding How Instagram Hashtags Work

While hashtags are popular across all social media platforms, the way they’re used on each platform differs. To get the most out of your hashtags you need to understand how they’re utilized on Instagram.

Types of Instagram Hashtags

Different types of hashtags can be utilized to reach new people and create brand awareness across Instagram. These three types of hashtags will help you gain more followers by highlighting your brand and your campaigns.

1. Branded Hashtags

Branded hashtags are unique to one company and can be used to make a statement about something that defines your brand and the community you’re building around it. It should be a unique phrase that instantly makes people recognize the brand and brings to mind everything it stands for. No other brands will be using this – it’s yours alone. Once you have a presence on Instagram, people who post pictures of your products will use your branded hashtag too, further promoting brand awareness. For example, look at Coca-Cola’s successful #shareacoke – they even included the hashtag on their cans.

Increase Instagram Followers with HashtagsSource: Instagram

2. Community Hashtags

Community hashtags speak specifically to a group of people and are an excellent tool for reaching new followers. These hashtags shouldn’t directly promote your brand but should reflect the interests of your target audience. For example, The North Face uses the community hashtag #neverstopexploring to connect with their target audience of adventure-seeking individuals.

northface on instagramSource: Instagram

3. Campaign Hashtags

Campaign hashtags bring awareness to specific marketing endeavors for your brand. These are used to bring awareness to a new product launch or seasonal promotion. Take a look at how Adidas is using campaign hashtags to promote their new sneakers across social media.

Ways to Increase Instagram Followers with HashtagsSource: Instagram

Source: Adidas

11 Ways to Use Instagram Hashtags to Grow Instagram Followers

1. Research Your Audience

You need to know who your audience is before you start using hashtags to reach them. Have a clear idea of who you’re trying to reach and take a look at how those people are already using Instagram. Find out what hashtags they’re already using and what brands they already follow so you can learn what they like.

You Must Know Your Buyer Personas

You must know who it is that you’re selling to. When you know who you’re trying to sell to and you have a clear vision of what their needs and wants are, you’ll be able to reach them more effectively. If you don’t already have buyer personas created, take the time to do so or update the personas you’ve already created. In addition to Instagram, they’ll help you succeed in all of your marketing endeavors.

2. Look at What Hashtags Your Competitors Are Using

Your competitors can be intimidating on social media. But if you take the time to see what kind of hashtags they’re using to reach their audience and what they’re having success with, you’ll have a good idea of how you might be able to reach those same people. You won’t want to copy every hashtag that they’re using, but you can certainly borrow ideas and find inspiration.

3. Look at Industry Leaders

There’s a good chance that the leaders in your industry have a big presence on social media, so check out what kind of content they post and what hashtags they use to reach their audience. Seeing how big brands succeed can be a great source of inspiration and reveal some great strategies for finding new followers.

Independent bookstores might use Barnes & Noble’s post as inspiration for their own book release announcements.

Barnes and noble on instagramSource: Instagram

Source: Barnes & Noble

4. Research Related Hashtags

Once you’ve found a few hashtags that you want to incorporate into your strategy, take a look at what other hashtags are frequently used along with them. Related hashtags will still be of interest to your target audience and can help you reach more followers that might not be following your initial hashtags. When your content is exposed to more people, you have a better chance of gaining new followers.

5. Find The Best Instagram Hashtags For You

Finding the best Instagram hashtags for you will take some trial and error. You’ll need to experiment to find out exactly what hashtags give you the best results. You’ll want to pay attention to your analytics to find out how people are discovering your posts and which posts are earning you more followers. Once you know, you’ll have a better idea of which hashtags to include on a regular basis.

Powerful Tools To Help You Find The Best Hashtags

There are also a number of powerful tools available to help you find the hashtags that are best for your brand.


Hashtagify lets you search and analyze the top hashtags on Instagram and check what the influencers use for free.


Hashtracking’s service allows you to track and monitor hashtags on Instagram. The detailed reports provide powerful insights that can show you what works.

All Hashtag

All Hashtag offers a variety of helpful tools like top hashtag lists, hashtag generators, and a hashtag creator.


Ritetag monitors top hashtags and offers you personalized suggestions to give you a great chance at reaching a wider audience.

6. Defining When To Use Instagram Hashtags

Every post that you make on Instagram should include hashtags. When you include hashtags, you’re increasing the chances that people will see your content and follow your account. You can also use hashtags in your stories and in your profile description.

dunkin on instagramSource: Instagram

7. Number of Hashtags to Use On Instagram

Instagram currently allows users to utilize up to 30 hashtags per post. But how many hashtags should you use on Instagram? All 30? Just a few?

Number of Hashtags on a Regular Post

While you’re able to use 30 hashtags on a regular post, studies say that posts with 9 hashtags get the most engagement. Using too many can give your post a spammy feel, and not using enough won’t put your content in front of enough people. Experiment with different numbers and find what works best for you.

Number of Hashtags on a Story

You can use up to 10 hashtags on your Instagram stories. When you’re using hashtags in your story, they appear on the image or video, so using too many can cause visual clutter and obscure the content you’re trying to share. Pick out a few of your best hashtags to include in your story and don’t use more than 5 at a time. Like you do with your regular posts, experiment with the numbers to find out what connects with your audience best.

8. “Trend” For an Instagram Hashtag

How to Trend on Instagram

When you search a hashtag on Instagram, you’ll see a “top post” section that displays all the trending images. So how do you get your content there? You can’t always predict what content will trend, but there are a few ways to set yourself up for success.

instagram hashtagsSource: Instagram

Source: Instagram

1. Pick The Right Hashtags

Don’t pick the most popular hashtags on Instagram in an attempt to be seen by more people. Make sure your hashtags are relevant to your target audience. It’s important that people are interested in the post. If people are just scrolling past your content, it won’t trend.

2. Create A Lot of Engagement

The more engagement your post generates, the more likely it is to trend. When posts get a lot of engagement quickly after being posted, it tells Instagrams algorithms that the content is high-quality and interesting to a group of people.

9. Have Your Own Instagram Hashtag

A big part of standing out on social media is being unique. Having your own hashtags sets you apart from the competition.

How to Create Your Own Instagram Hashtag

Your own branded Instagram hashtag can be part of your brand name, a slogan, or just a phrase that captures the personality and spirit of your company.

1. User-Generated Content

Giving your audience a chance to create content that’s used by your business is one of the best ways to build a connection and grow your audience. Giving your audience the chance to create shared content generates excitement around your brand, and when they post their photos with your branded hashtag, their audience gets the chance to see it and take part as well.

Starbucks on InstagramSource: Instagram

2. Inspire Your Followers

Visual content can inspire a community. You can use your branded hashtag as a place where people post inspiring moments that move and motivate others. Nike’s #JustDoIt has become a place where people post inspiring pictures of their fitness journey as well as a place to show off their Nike gear.

3. Have a Deeper Connection With Your Community

When you build an authentic connection with your community, you’ll see more followers and more engagement on your posts. People don’t want to be sold to – they want to connect and know that the brands they follow understand them and their interests.

TIP: Take Them Behind the Scenes

Using a branded hashtag to take your followers behind the scenes is an excellent way to connect with them on a deeper level. Show them the human side of your company – they’ll appreciate it.

4. Create a Personalized Instagram Hashtag

You’ll want your personalized hashtag to be something simple and memorable. If people can’t remember your hashtag, they won’t be able to search it or use it themselves.

5. Promote New Products

Personalized hashtags are also an excellent way to promote new product launches. You can reach new people that are interested in your products and your brand. For example, Levi’s used a simple #FW18 to promote their new seasonal clothing.

levis vintage clothing on instagramSource: Instagram

10. Track Your Success

Tracking your results through Instagram’s analytics is the best way to see which hashtags are providing you with new followers and generating engagement. Tracking these statistics allows you to understand which hashtags are the best at connecting with your target audience and which ones fall flat.

11. Optimize Your Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Once you’ve been able to track your successful hashtags, you’ll want to tweak and optimize your hashtag strategy. Take a look at what works, use the successful hashtags more often and eliminate the hashtags that aren’t connecting with your audience.

You should always be testing new hashtags and strategies, but use the data you’ve collected from past campaigns to guide your efforts.


Learning how to master hashtags on Instagram to increase your followers can be tricky and it will certainly require some trial and error. But with the right strategy in place, you can use hashtags to connect with your target audience and grow your following.

Start by researching your audience, competition, and industry leaders. After picking a few core hashtags to include in your posts, research related hashtags and utilize tools that can help you find the best hashtags for your brand. You should also create a personalized hashtag to further promote your brand and constantly test out new strategies.

When you create an authentic connection with your audience by posting great content with relevant hashtags, you’ll be able to reach more people and grow your brand on the platform.

Social Upgrade can help guide your Instagram hashtag strategy and increase your following!

What are your favorite hashtag strategies to get more followers?

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