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The No Bullsh*t Guide to Instagram Hashtags

When I train people to use Instagram, the impression I get is that most people are playing a bit of a guessing game with hashtags on Instagram. They scan the picture they are about to post then kind of describe it with hashtags.

For example, you’ve taken a photo of a rainbow doughnut that you’re eating at Blackpool beach. A lot of people would go for #Blackpool #doughnut #rainbowdoughnut #dayout #funatthebeach #daytrip #delicious.

But, I want to show you a much more effective way of hashtagging that will get you connected with your right audience.

Find Your Right Audience

The problem with descriptive and generic hashtagging is that it doesn’t help define what your tribe and brand is. In relation to my doughnut example, the fact is that the majority of the global population like eating doughnuts at the beach. So using those generic beach and doughnut hashtags I mentioned could attract literally anyone on Instagram.

I suspect that if you run a business, you want to attract a particular type of person to your account. For example if you sell reusable nappies, then you’re probably looking to talk to eco conscious parents. In which case you’d use some environmental hashtags like #globalwarmingisreal and #saveourplanet. So unless you want to attract a really wide non specific audience, then I’d recommend you start thinking about the right hashtags for the audience you are looking for.

Let me tell you about the hashtags I use for my community and it might help me paint the picture.

Bright Colour Hashtags

There’s a whole community of people on Instagram who love popping bright colours. There’s a niche around people who are into street art, rainbow coloured outfits and capturing the happy colourful side of life. My brand and personality fits in with this world. I relate to these people and want people like this in my community. Equally people from that world are going to appreciate my sunshiney positive looking feed and may want to employ me too.

Katya Willems, Easy Insta Manchester

Here are some of the hashtags I use to signify my colourful aesthetic:

#ihavethisthingwithcolour #colourmyeveryday #colourismyjam #incolourfulcompany #colourful_shots

Slow Living and Nature Hashtags

This might seem slightly at odds with the popping colours and high adrenaline feel of my colourful community and aesthetic, but slow living, nature and mindfulness are part of my philosophy and outlook too. I love spending time in nature, going for hikes and appreciating the simple things. I want to reach out to those kind of people.


Here are some of the hashtags I use to find my slow living/wilderness people:

#natureofsoul #the_gentle_manifesto #intuitiveliving #livingsimple #smallmomentsofcalm #livethoughtfully #inspiredbynature_

Environmental Hashtags

I’ve been trying to do more posts about the environment – it’s something I feel strongly about and I’m increasingly trying different ways of living a more sustainable life, and I’m keen to talk about it on my Instagram feed. Environmental hashtags are very big on Instagram, so if you are passionate about the environment and you get strategic about your hashtags, your posts have the potential to get a lot of engagement.

To give you an example, I recently did a post about the environment and it received 1786 impressions (views) and 955 of those views (more than half) came from the environmental hashtags I used.

Front door with lots of plants.

Here are some of the environmental hashtags I use:

#plasticfreeliving #greenliving #zerowasteliving #reducewaste #ecofriendlyliving #earthfriendly #ecoconscious #enviromentalism

Hashtags Tips

I won’t go into all the ins and outs of how to use hashtags in this post, but here’s a few tips that might provide you with a bit of inspo:

  1. Find community hashtags for your niche community eg if you’re a maker try #wearethemakers or if you’re a hiker try #hiking_collective. And by the way, just like me you can cover a few different niches within your account.
  2. You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, but the recommended number to use is 10-15.
  3. Don’t use a hashtag that has been used more that one million times. Even some really niche hashtags like #littlestoriesofmylife that sound unusual can be oversaturated. #littlestoriesofmylife has been used 1.6 million times. Using an over popular hashtag means your post is less likely to get seen. Just click on the hashtag to find out how many times it’s been used.
  4. When you choose a hashtag click on the hashtag to see what pictures come up underneath that hashtag – do those images align with your brand/community?
  5. Go and comment on people using the same hashtags as you. It’s a great way to connect with ‘your’ people.

If you have any thoughts or questions about hashtags please pop over to my Instagram account and send me a dm about it! I’d love to hear from you.

If you enjoyed reading this you might like to try 10 of my Favourite Instagram Accounts June 2019

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