An Essential Guide to Instagram Hashtags: How to Grow Your Instagram Followers

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Instagram started out as a platform that was completely dedicated to sharing photos and videos. However, just like all other social media networks, Instagram too has become popular among brands. The reason? Social media marketing.

Just like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has become a great place to market your brand. With over 1 billion active monthly users, it has become one of the biggest social media networks. This makes it a favorable place for marketing brands and products.

With a scope of potentially reaching 1 billion people, many brands have created profiles on Instagram. How to grow your Instagram followers, however, remains a challenge. If you can overcome this issue, you will be on your way to promoting your product with ease.

To help users discover content they’re interested in, Instagram employs the use of hashtags. If you can use hashtags well, you could get the attention of thousands of people.

Through this guide, you will be able to learn how to use hashtags to increase likes and gain followers. The answer to how to grow your Instagram followers is an effective Instagram hashtag strategy.

Let’s take a look at how to grow your Instagram followers with a good Instagram hashtag strategy.

Why should you use hashtags on Instagram?

As mentioned before, with the use of hashtags, you can get your posts in front of new audiences. This can get you higher visibility. Hashtags help you reach people who are not even your followers.

Over the years, Instagram has added loads of features along with upgrading their hashtag analytics. If you have an Instagram business profile, you can now see the effectiveness of your hashtags. All you need to do is go to a post and click on “View Insights.”

This will show you your post’s impressions, reach, engagement, and likes. It also shows the impressions from hashtags along with how many accounts weren’t following you. This gives you an idea of the effectiveness of your hashtags.

You can even keep track of hashtags by following them and staying up-to-date with related topics. This way, you will be able to create content that is more in line with the latest developments.

With recent updates, you can even use hashtags in your bio that people can click on. This can help you highlight all of your posts through a single click.

Hashtags are everywhere on Instagram. You can even use them on your Instagram Stories. All hashtags can be clicked or be found on the Search and Explore Page.

You can use up to 30 hashtags in every caption and they will assist you in content discovery.

Types of hashtags on Instagram

To develop an Instagram hashtag strategy, it is important to understand the different types of hashtags. Not sure how to grow your Instagram followers using them? Let’s find out.

1. Branded hashtags

Branded hashtags are those which are unique to your business. They could include your brand name, your tagline, or even the names of your products. These can help people identify your brand.

View this profile on Instagram

Allbirds (@allbirds) • Instagram photos and videos

For example, Allbirds uses the tag #weareallbirds in their photos and videos. This is their branded hashtag.

Using these hashtags, you can connect with the audience. If you can get them to use these hashtags, it means that they love your products and services.

2. Community hashtags

Community hashtags are those which are centered around a particular interest or subject. Unlike branded hashtags, they don’t necessarily link to a particular business. These can help you reach a broader audience that is interested in the subject.

For example, National Geographic uses hashtags that are related to nature. Based on their photos, they use hashtags of natural occurrences that are seen in the picture.

In the above image, they have used #rainbow, #summer, #phonephotography, #florence, #italy, and other community hashtags. These hashtags don’t promote it as a brand but can be seen by people who are interested in these hashtags.

The best way to find this type of hashtags is to see which hashtags your audience and accounts like yours are following.

3. Campaign hashtags

Unlike other hashtags, campaign hashtags usually last for a very short duration. A common question that arises during campaigns is how to grow your Instagram followers with them? The answer is campaign hashtags.

These hashtags are used for specific campaigns and promote just that. During this time, brands will promote the hashtags heavily and get as much activity as they can. However, once the campaign is over, they stop promoting them.

A good example of this is the #milkmakeuppride campaign by Milk Makeup. They created the campaign to celebrate the launch of their Pride Collection. All their related images came out with this hashtag during the campaign.

How to use hashtags

To help your posts get discovered, you should use hashtags which are relevant to the post. For example, if your post shows a person trekking, you should include hashtags relevant to that. In this instance, you could use hashtags like #trek, #trekker, #travel, #adventure, etc.

When you upload the photo, your post will get listed according to these hashtags. When people search for these hashtags, you post will appear among the “Recent” results. This will be until other people upload posts with the same hashtags, in which case, your post will drop down. But if your post gets a lot of engagement, it could still show up among the “Top” results.

For Instagram Stories, try to keep the hashtag usage limited. This is because they can take up significant space in the image or video.

When using hashtags, make sure that you use a mixture of hashtags. The key is to use both popular hashtags and niche ones.

In the case of popular hashtags, there are thousands of posts created by people every minute. So your posts could get lost in the crowd. However, there are many hashtags that are popular and where you can manage to get the attention of people.

Screenshot of Instagram results for "travelling"
Image via Instagram

Thankfully, people can now follow hashtags. This feature gives you more opportunity to get discovered by people. However, it makes sense to use only those popular hashtags that are relevant to the content.

Along with the popular hashtags, make sure that you use specific hashtags too. These hashtags usually have a low volume and are extremely relevant to your post. While many people won’t be following them, those who are following them will take great interest in your post.

Screenshot of Instagram results for "losangelespets"
Image via Instagram

For example, if your post is about pets in Los Angeles, you should definitely add #losangelespets to it. While it is a specific hashtag, people who are looking for things related to pets in LA will definitely find your post.

Finding the best hashtags for you

You can use up to 30 hashtags in every post. However, you shouldn’t use the same hashtags for every single post. This is because each post is unique and should have different hashtags. You should start off by building up a library of hashtags that you can use for your posts.

To find hashtags, you can use Instagram’s search feature. You can type a relevant keyword in this and then select the “Tags” tab. Through this, you can see the list of relevant hashtags along with the number of posts in each of them.

You should select tags that have a reasonable usage where your posts won’t get lost in the crowd. These hashtags should be the ones that other organizations and influencers in your industry use. For this, you can look at the posts of your competitors and pick the ones that are non-branded.

You could also take help of some social media tools to find the best hashtags that are suited to you. These tools can help make the job a lot simpler for you.

1. Hashtagify

Hashtagify can be used to search hashtags based on their popularity, correlations, and trends. When you enter a hashtag, it checks Instagram and gives you a report on the users of that hashtag. It also shows the people who are leading in that hashtag and shows the other hashtags they are using.

Screenshot of Hashtagify homepage
Image via Hashtagify

You can also use it to search for trending hashtags and find relevant ones from those.

2. RiteTag

RiteTag gives you a number of suggestions for hashtags from any topic that you may choose. All you need to do is select a hashtag to start with and then let the software suggest others to you. You can also use it to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest trends in hashtags.

Screenshot of RiteTag homepage
Image via RiteTag

It also has a Google Chrome add-on through which it suggests hashtags for your posts. It gives a group of hashtags based on the topic, and then you can easily compare them.

The hashtags are color-coded so that you can figure out if one can be used to get followers.

3. Iconosquare

Iconosquare is a great tool for hashtag analysis. If you want to know how to grow your Instagram followers, you should use this tool. It gives you everything you need to know about your followers on Instagram.

Screenshot of Iconosquare homepage
Image via Iconosquare

It follows the growth of a hashtag and even shows the posts which are most influential in that hashtag. You can even see the engagement rate of the hashtags that you use.

When should you use hashtags?

The answer to this is pretty simple. You should use hashtags as often as possible. When you have good content to share on Instagram, make sure that you enter hashtags in the caption.

If you enter the relevant hashtags, you might be able to get your post in front of more people. It is the only way you can reach as many people as possible organically. Be it a video, photo, or a Story, try to incorporate hashtags to get the maximum reach.

How many hashtags should be used?

A common misconception on Instagram is that the higher the number of hashtags, the better the visibility. Well, that’s not the case. Then how to increase your Instagram followers, you may ask? The ideal number of hashtags in a post should be nine.

According to a study by Sprout Social, posts that had nine hashtags got the highest engagement on Instagram.

Bar graph of "Instagram: Number of Hashtags vs. Average Engagement Per Post"
Image via Sprout Social

Instagram: Number of Hashtags vs. Average Engagement Per Post

1 hashtag: 11,000 average engagements

2 hashtags: 10,000 average engagements

3 hashtags: 14,000 average engagements

4 hashtags: 7,000 average engagements

5 hashtags: 9,000 average engagements

6 hashtags: 9,000 average engagements

7 hashtags: 16,000 average engagements

8 hashtags: 18,000 average engagements

9 hashtags: 27,000 average engagements

10 hashtags: 25,000 average engagements

11 hashtags: 21,000 average engagements

12 hashtags: 20,000 average engagements 

13 hashtags: 16,000 average engagements

14 hashtags: 15,000 average engagements

15+ hashtags: 14,000 average engagements

However, you can conduct your very own experiments with hashtags to figure out the best number. A lot depends on the hashtag that you’re using. Play around with them till you can figure out the best of the lot.

Which hashtags should you use?

In simple terms, you should use hashtags that are relevant to your brand. If you’re wondering how to grow your Instagram followers, you should look at your audience. The hashtags should be relevant to your audience as well. This is because they are the ones looking and searching for them.

There are also a lot of hashtags that you should stay away from. These hashtags can make your audience feel that the brand is being spammy. Hashtags like #likeforlike, #likeforfollow, and #like4follow can get you a few likes but will lower your credibility. Additionally, you might not get an engaged audience from them.

You should try and look for community hashtags that are ultra-niche and extremely relevant to your post. This way, you can get the perfect set of people to see your posts without much competition too.

How to trend in a hashtag

When you search for a particular hashtag, you can see the trending “Top Posts” on the top. These are the top posts from each hashtag. If you can manage to get to the top 9 posts using the hashtag, you will be able to increase your Instagram followers.

The most important aspect that is taken into account in determining the ranking of the post is its engagement. The posts get ranked based on how much engagement they have and how quickly they managed to get it.

Screenshot of Instagram hashtag "naturephotography" results
Image via Instagram

The key is to get a large number of likes and comments in a short span of time after posting. This signals to Instagram that the post has quality content that is engaging for an audience.

To trend in hashtags, you should target extremely niche hashtags. This can help you avoid the competition and rank for the hashtag easily. More than the popularity of the hashtag, look for the relevance of the hashtag to your post.

To rank higher, you need to generate a lot of engagement, and quickly. The best thing to do is to post when most of your audience is active on Instagram. This improves your chances of getting high engagement.

When it gets high engagement, your post will get pushed up the rankings and generate even more engagement. This will create a domino effect that will help you rank higher.

How to create your branded hashtag on Instagram

Branded hashtags enable you to reach out to more people on Instagram. Additionally, they help you start a conversation with your followers. And if you wish to have some user-generated content (UGC), branded hashtags are the way to go.

Fans of a brand usually post content with the branded hashtag. This way, you will be able to see all of their posts in the hashtag. As mentioned earlier, your branded hashtag could be anything – your brand name, tagline, or even product name.

Screenshot of Instagram results for #startswithsnowe
Image via Instagram

For example, SNOWE uses the hashtag #startwithsnowe to get user-generated content. Their customers use the hashtag to show off how they have used their products.

When you’re creating a branded hashtag, you should try to keep it short and catchy. If they are catchy or funny, people will find it easier to remember them. If they can remember it, they might use it the next time they post something relevant. They may even revisit the hashtag to check out new posts.

Branded hashtags can help you gain a lot of traction in the digital space. Not only can you get a lot of user-generated content, but you can build your own community too. You can make the branded hashtag as the go-to hashtag for meaningful content.

You could use the hashtag to even take your followers behind the scenes. You can build a deeper connection with them by keeping them in the loop with the latest news. You can even give them a sneak peek into what the brand is doing.

If you were wondering how to grow your Instagram followers through branded hashtags, you now have the answer. The people following the branded hashtag might start following your brand. Additionally, those who notice the hashtag may also check out your brand and follow you

You can even engage influencers to promote your brand and use the branded hashtag. Influencers are people who have a huge fan following and drive plenty of engagement. You can market your brand with the help of these influencers by getting the attention of their audiences.

When people from their audience see them vouching for your brand, they might start following you. Even if they don’t, they may get interested in the branded hashtag and start following it. When the size of the branded hashtag increases, the number of people who might follow your brand increases too.

If you have a campaign hashtag, you can use influencers to ensure that it gets more attention.

You could even use branded hashtags to find out how much attention your influencers are driving towards your brand. You can track the branded hashtag to see the impact of influencers on the campaign. You can then compare it to your KPIs and see the effectiveness of the influencers.

In fact, Special K created a campaign to motivate people to follow their New Year resolutions. For this, they had a special hashtag – #FuelYourResolution. They got several influencers to create content with this hashtag.

They could then track the hashtag to see the impact of the influencers on the campaign.

To find the right influencers on Instagram, you can use hashtags. You can start off by tracking the hashtags that they are using. This can give you information about what they care about. Using this information, you can then decide whether you want to engage them or not.

You can also see their strategy through their hashtags and find what they think is currently trending. The more you know about their content, the better.

You can even find out competitive data using hashtags. If you look for campaign or brand hashtags in your influencer’s posts, you can find out who they are working with. This gives you an idea of how you should continue partnering with them.

This tracking process can be time-consuming and can require a lot of effort. To make your job of finding a reliable influencer easier, you can use Grin. Grin has a powerful database of influencers across various locations, niches, and platforms.

This tracking process can be time-consuming and can require a lot of effort. To make your job of finding a reliable influencer easier, you can use Grin. Grin has a powerful database of influencers across various locations, niches, and platforms.

It also gives you access to their verified contact information so that you can easily get in touch with them. Through the portal, you can easily brief them, send them products, and even track their content progress.

If you were wondering how to grow your Instagram followers, this is the way to go. Influencer marketing can drive extremely high returns, especially on Instagram. This is proved by the fact that 89% of micro-influencers chose Instagram for their original content, according to a survey by Bloglovin’.

Analyze your hashtags

If you want to know how to grow your Instagram followers faster, you should analyze your hashtags. Using the “View Insights” option for each post, you can find out the performance of the hashtags you’ve used.

Based on the insights you get from this, you can decide which hashtags are giving you more traction. Doing this repeatedly can get you the best results possible and increase your follower count.


Instagram’s hashtags are a lot more than just the features of the app. If you know how to use them well, you can use them to your advantage and expand your brand’s following. Follow the above-mentioned procedures and methods to get your desired results from Instagram.

If you have any doubts related to any of the points mentioned above, feel free to leave them in the comments. We’ll do our very best to answer them for you.

Are you ready to stake your claim in the creator economy? Discover more helpful tips and resources from the experts at GRIN: Creator Management Learning Center

Updated: July 2023

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Written by GRIN Contributor

GRIN is the pioneer behind the world’s first Creator Management platform built to support every brand’s journey to connecting with consumers through authentic creator relationships. Thousands of the world’s fastest-growing brands—including SKIMS, Warby Parker, Allbirds, Mejuri, and MVMT—use GRIN to make creators feel like trusted, empowered partners and work with them to build their brands into household names.

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