What hashtags should you use on Instagram? (+ Free Instagram hashtag lists for bloggers)

September 21, 2017

Ahhh hashtags. They are a pain right? Sometimes you feel like they actually do something, other days I feel as though I could post with 7000 hashtags and it wouldn’t actually increase my engagement rates. The joy of the algorithm… but more on that another day. So what Instagram hashtags should you actually be using? Here are a few things to consider:

1 Use hashtags that you actually enjoy going through and engaging on

I think it can get hard when you get caught up in seeing lists of hashtags as there are literally millions of them by now. Some of them sound awesome, but at the end of the day, when you research your hashtags you should actually look through them and see if the photos in there work for you! And whether they fit in with the photos which you are posting.

My fave hashtags have a really good community around them of people who engage with others on the hashtag and who have the same outlook when it comes to instagram – when you look at #TheGirlGang, #lbloggers, #happyselves and #InColourfulCompany – they are all full of similar people sharing awesome photos and supporting each other.

2 Mix up the size of instagram hashtags – include some small (less than 10K) and some large (100K +)

Hashtags come in sizes which basically refer to how many photos you can see when you search for them on Instagram. Hashtags of different sizes offer different things – larger hashtags generally mean that you’ll be seen by more people but they also move much faster. That means that your post will go into the hashtag feed but then will disappear through more recent photos being posted. Smaller Instagram hashtags will mean that it may be seen by less people but that you will appear in the hashtag feed for longer.

I think it’s worth trying different hashtags and seeing which actually lead to more engagement (from you and from others to your snaps) as even some smaller hashtags don’t have much going on.

If you want to get really fancy, you can start a little spreadsheet with the various hashtags you like and what reach each one has and then work to mix it up for each of your Instagram posts. For less fancy, you can often tell just by looking at the hashtag, simple ones like #london #food #ootd are much bigger than more complex hashtag phrases.

3 Really big hashtags are generally useless (like #food)

Any hashtags which are pushing over a million photos or more will just be a bit useless. Not only will your photo fall out of the feed pretty quickly, but you also tend to get way more of the joyful follow / unfollowers and bots. When you set up a bot or a following service, you pick a hashtag to target – most people pick a large basic hashtag so that they get the maximum audience.

And even though it’s nice to have a boost of followers after posting, often if you’re using the big hashtags they will disappear very soon afterwards!

4 Some Instagram hashtags have legit been banned and will not work

Like every social media, Instagram has its own share of spam. And as its terms of service are a lot tighter than say, twitter, it has a lot more to moderate. This means that if a spammer targets a particular hashtag, then Instagram basically needs to shut it down. You may notice it sometimes, for example, when scrolling through #bbloggers there tends to be a lot of sexual content. Rather than fighting all of the hundreds of spam accounts, Instagram disables the hashtag and no posts are shared through there.

The list of what hashtags are broken is always changing but you can tell as when you click on the hashtag it doesn’t show any images or doesn’t show the top nine. If you google for ‘banned instagram hashtags’ then you will get an up to date list which you can reference against. Check your lists and remove any which don’t offer any benefit.

5 Change your Instagram hashtags up with each of your posts

I’m going to go into some fancy tools for Instagram in an upcoming post, but I think it’s key to switch up your hashtags with each post. By using the same ones, you’re basically meaning that you’re only going to be seen by the same people who use those hashtags. It’s also handy to use specific ones for the post – especially if you have a varied feed. If you don’t want to use a tool then even saving different groups of hashtags within your notes app is really useful to copy and paste across.

I think it’s also reeeeeally useful to look up specific travel hashtags and regram accounts if you’re travelling or in a specific location. Often big regram accounts have a specific hashtag you can use – try going onto Instagram, searching for the location and then looking in the bios of the big accounts which come up.

6 Some Instagram hashtag clouds to try…

Lifestyle bloggers…

#lbloggers #travelbloggers #thegirlgang#happyselves #discoverunder100k#smallbiz #girlsvsglobe #documentlife #everydaylifeoutdoors  #ukbloggers#blogginggals #inspiremyinstagram #londonbloggers #lovelysquares #forahappymoment #fblchat #mycandidlife #girlsthatwander#amonthoflovely #liveunscripted #britishsnaps #abmlifeiscolourful #mycandidlife #iexplore

Fashion bloggers…

#thegirlgang #sheisnotlost# fbloggers #blogginggals #fblchat #wherewewander #holdthemoment #lifestylefashion #fashiondaily #wearitloveit #inspiremyinstagram #todayiamwearing  #style#fashionblogger #personalstyle#ukbloggers #styleblogger#fashionbloggers #makeyousmilestyle#outfitinspiration #instastyle #instafashion#wiwt #classyandfashionable #loveletterto #streetstyleluxe #

Travel bloggers…

#sheisnotlost #everydaylifeoutdoors #unlimitedengland #wearetravelgirls #bloggerdiaries #girlslovetravel #visitengland #neverstopexploring #whereitravel #icu_britain #femmetravel #stayandwander #smallpleasures #openmyworld #girlsthatwander #seetoshare #adventureawaits #suitcasetravel (and specific location hashtags, they are often things like… #visitlondon #visitcroatia #explorelondon but sometimes can be really specific like #ifeelsLOVEnia

So yeah, a load of info on hashtags to have a ponder over. I’d love to know what you do when it comes to hashtags and whether you find a particular way of using them works better for you. Obv, we are all slave to the algorithm (more on that in another post) but I figure if we can get hashtags down then at least that’s one step toward more engagement!

What hashtags do you like using? Do you have a fave hashtag?!

Other posts you may enjoy:

5 Things to know about Instagram Stories

Why Instagram themes don’t work

How I grew my Instagram 25% in one month

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