10 things you need to know about hashtags

with Insta’ whiz, Lauren Bath.


Hashtagging is a science, there’s no doubt about it – it’s like a mix of psychology and AI and algorithms that will never be completely understood. To make it even harder, hashtags are a complex and moving beast, but they are essential to building your influence, engagement and following. 


Whilst we cannot give you a definitive list of what #’s to use to up your engagement, we can give you some industry knowledge, need-to-knows and what-not-to-do’s when it comes to hashtagging on your profile.

1. Understand the Hierarchy of Hashtags 

When it comes to Hashtags, the range goes from very very broad to super specific – as you can see in this diagram 👇. 



When it comes to the broad tags, they tend to have a lot of noise, for example, #blogger has 105 million tags, so you will tend to be drowned out when using this kind of tag. On the other end of the spectrum, using super niche and specific hashtags, for example, #thetravelbootcamp2020, will only attract followers you already have and won’t allow new engagement. 


Rule of thumb is to use: 


  • 4 broad #’s 

  • 6 mid-range #’s 

  • 2 niche #’s


This allows you to attract a range of engagement from people following broad hashtags, on the explore page and via your own community. 



2. The magic number of hashtags 

Just kidding, there’s no magic number. 


Like we suggested in the guide above, 12 is a good place to start. As a rule, we would suggest using roughly between 8 and 15 hashtags per post. 


It may seem that ‘more is better’ when it comes to being found in more places, but there is a slight possibility for penalisation when you use millions of hashtags (although this isn’t always the case). The main reason we suggest 8 to 15, however, is because it is very tricky to find 20 relevant hashtags – and this brings us to our next point. 



3. Use relevant hashtags 

This may sound like a no-brainer but someone has to say it: make sure the hashtags you’re using are relevant to your image/caption. This will not only attract the right audience to your image, but will also make the algorithm LOVE your content. 


Side note: Insta’ hates it when they have an image, geotagged at Bern with a hashtag #sydneyphotography. As we said, keep your #’s relevant please, and thanks! 



4. Add hashtags as soon as you post

We know this can be tricky, but it’s really important that your hashtags are posted at the same time as your content, either at the base of the caption, or in the comments. 


Don’t wait an hour to # your image up, by this time, you’ve missed the visibility window. 



5. Get specific 

Sometimes, getting specific with your hashtags can help you to reap the rewards of upped engagement with the right kind of audience (that may choose to stick around for more content). 


So, consider popping some specifics into your hashtag regime. For example, you might be a solo female traveller, so you might consider using #TravellingSolo #SoloTravel #TravellingAlone  #Wanderer #SoloFemaleTraveller #SoloFemaleTravel #TravelGirlsGo. Or, maybe you focus on luxury travel, in which case you might use: #LuxuryVillas #LuxuryTrip #TravelLuxury #DreamHoliday #LuxuryEscapes #BestResorts #VacayGoals.


Experimenting with these kids of specific hashtags can really pay off – either right now, or in the long run. 



6. Hashtags in your copy?!

Now we’re getting crazy! 


But, seriously, embedding #hashtags in your copy can be a fantastic way of popping them in without looking like you’re too desperate for the #likes. This also ensures that the hashtags you use are #relevant to your copy and are attracting the right audience. 


For example, you might write something like: 

“This month, I have been stuck inside, #workingfromhome, and have really had a chance to take stock of how far I’ve come. After attending #thetravelbootcamp2020 last weekend, I have now put a plan in place to grow my #sustainabletravelblog with my #slowtravelstories AND I also went for a run this morning. #Dearhopefulcreative – if I can learn to rock the #contentcreation life, you can too! How’s that for some #mondaymotivation?”

See what we did there?


It can be tricky, however, so you may still need to pop some hashtags in your first comment or at the base of your caption. 



7. Change it up 

This is probably the best piece of advice we can offer. DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, recycle the same 15 hashtags for every post. 


Firstly, it’s boring. Secondly, you’re missing out on a whole new audience that hang out under different (but relevant) hashtags. Thirdly, when you copy/paste the same old, tired, hashtags every day the Insta’ gods can tell and they may think you’re a bot (and restrict your reach!). 


You can search far and wide for beautiful new and relevant hashtags, to keep your Insta’ fresh and find new, like-minded users. 



8. Don’t just tag things and places 

One mistake a lot of users make is tagging only relevant places, things and events. Friends, there is a whole world of MOOD tags out there that are attracting some big audiences (and they’re super cute too!). 


These include tags like #dearhopefulcreative, #thatsdarling and #doortomywonderland. 


Another type of tag that you should consider are SEASONAL tags, these are moving hashtags that change with the seasons. Now, these can be literal seasons, like #myspringcapture or #summerfeels or holidays, #thespiritofChristmas or #turkeyseason – and plenty of Insta’ users hang out under these tags  (what can we say, a tonne of people love Christmas).


These are broad enough tags, but they have something different: they touch on feelings and connection (and people love it) – so consider adding these (and similar) to your repertoire. 



9. Analyse their impact 

A necessary step in hashtagging for your personal brand or business is assessing the analytics to see how hashtags are performing. 


When you click on ‘View Insights’, scroll down to find how many impressions came from your hashtags. If you are seeing a growth, you’re on the right track. If you aren’t, that’s completely fine, you just need to do some more research and experimenting. Remember, hashtag performance changes all the time, and you will need to continue researching and experimenting to stay fresh. 



10. Leave them be 

One common misconception is that you need to (or at least, should) remove hashtags from your couple-of-days-old post. Nuh uh! This step is not necessary. This is simply an exercise to make it seem as though the engagement the user received was without the help of the humble hashtag – and we think it’s completely okay to give the hashtags some credit. Heck, using hashtags is so darn difficult that we will own it when they are a success. 


So should you.

There you have it! 

So, go out and experiment with the rules we have offered up in this definitive list of the need-to-knows of #ing. You will, of course, need to put in a lot of work, but over time it gets easier (we promise!). 


Drop into our DM’s to let us know how you go.


Till next time,


Team Bootcamp x.