6 Ways Instagram Hashtags Can Grow Your Small Business in 2019

Are you interested in increasing your Instagram engagement by as much as 200% per month using hashtags? 

While hashtags can confuse new players in the social media game, they are essential in growing your business’s digital presence.

On its most technical level, a hashtag is an indexing utility that lets the Instagram algorithm connect users with the content they are looking for. You can construct an effective hashtag strategy to grow your business and engage potential customers by learning the ins and outs of hashtags.

Posts that contain hashtags are indexed with other posts under the same tags. For example, socialites might use #squad, while extreme sports enthusiasts follow #bucketlist.  These users can quickly search for related content by clicking the tag or searching on Instagram explorer. This provides a unique opportunity to engage with and understand your customers.

If you want to grow your small business, you can follow these steps to understand hashtagging and craft an in-depth strategy to create real-world results for your business.


How to use Instagram hashtags?

Having at least one hashtag increases engagement by 12.6%, showing how effective they promote content. Instagram users want to see the content relevant to them, reach users you appeal to, and hashtags are the solution. A well-crafted hashtag strategy will yield more visibility, greater user engagement, stronger branding, and real-world sales.


1.  Increase Your Instagram Page visibility

The most literal use for a hashtag is telling Instagram what your post is about.  Without a hashtag, you have to rely on users to find your content organically, which is not the way to consider that 70% of Instagram posts go unseen.

Hashtags are what make your Instagram content discoverable. Users can discover range by searching hashtags on their own or tapping through related posts for a particular tag. You can almost think of hashtags like you might think of keywords for a search engine, all confined to Instagram. Neglecting Instagram hashtags means making your posts more difficult for potential followers to spot. On the flip side, taking a few seconds to tack on some tags instantly makes your posts discoverable.

It would be best to use hashtags, but you also want to be careful about what tags you pick.  Stuffing 30 tags into your post to maximize visibility probably won’t yield the best results, while having only a single title can be just as ineffective.  Finding the correct number and the most relevant tags will be the first step to your hashtag strategy.


  • Use hashtags that describe your content.
  • Use hashtags that are popular with your customers
  • Use relevant trending hashtags



  • Use irrelevant or misleading hashtags
  • Put too many hashtags in your post
  • Misuse popular hashtags


It takes trial and error to fine-tune your strategy, but you can get started with a few of these tips. First, jump on trends to maximize visibility, don’t overdo it. Second, make sure every hashtag you use is relevant to your product. For example, an online clothing retailer should be using tags like #ootd or #picoftheday to promote their clothing, while a sports supplies distributor can be using #fitness and #gymlife to connect with the right audience.


2. More User Engagement

User engagement is the most vital element of Instagram marketing, and small business has a unique advantage over significant brands since they have a more intimate user base.  User engagement becomes difficult when a major brand has several million followers, so take advantage of having fewer followers by developing a relationship with your users.  Use hashtags to curate the conversation around your brand and products and help guide the community to create a healthy buzz around your business.


  • Create authentic, engaging content
  • Respond to comments and user posts
  • Use hashtags that appeal to your audience



  • Ignore user feedback
  • Create inauthentic content
  • Only use broad hashtags

Content marketing on Instagram can be only a hair away from advertising, and your users can tell.  When you come off as trying to sell something, you’re quickly seen as disingenuous and inauthentic to your users. Instead, be genuine, and create compelling content to draw in and engage your followers. For example, a music shop can use #musiclife to attract like-minded musicians, letting you engage and draw them to your business.


3.  Create a community

Community outreach is another key to a successful social media campaign, both with physical and digital communities. You can curate digital communities by appealing to user interests, and hashtags are an excellent way to do this. For example, #smallbusiness or #motivation appeals to your followers’ values, letting you draw together people around your brand.

You can even appeal to physical communities since hashtags can include locations, allowing you to target users in your area. This is especially useful for brick-and-mortar stores, letting you set up events and draw in real-world customers.

Community and industry-specific hashtags: Which hashtags make sense for your business’ posts? There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, but here are some ideas to help serve as a starting point. The best hashtags are the ones that speak your customers’ language. Simply put, these are tags that are popular enough that they’ll get used but aren’t so famous that your posts will get lost in the shuffle. For example, tons of beauty-related hashtags such as #unicornhair or #mermaidhair speak to a more specific audience than just #beauty.

As noted, any tag will instantly increase your likelihood of engagement. That’s why general hashtags such as #love (reported to be the most popular tag as of 2019) are fair game, too. And don’t forget about holiday hashtags, including niche social holidays. These tags are trendy and time-sensitive, perfect for showing off your personality and introducing yourself to new followers.

Vary hashtags across your content. Once you find popular hashtags that people engage with, it might be tempting to continue using those same hashtags in every post. However, eventually, you’ll need to add some more variation. The Instagram algorithm might see your content as spam and suppress the visibility of your posts. Avoid offending the IG gods by switching up your hashtags for each photo.


  • Use geotags in your posts when appropriate
  • Appeal to your users’ sense of community
  • Reach out and engage your users


  • Ignore your growing online community
  • Focus on only increasing your follower count


A community around your brand can be just a handful of your regular customers who recognize the value of your business.  A high-quality Instagram community will help promote your online presence, increase long-term customer loyalty, and convert followers into customers.



4.  Promote your brand

Branding has become a powerful tool in marketing, and Instagram makes it more accessible than ever.  You can differentiate your business, craft an online identity, and effectively appeal to your users.  Hashtagging your brand is easy to help establish your presence, but picking hashtags that you want to reflect on your brand will let your customers know what you’re about.

Think of a brand hashtag as your signature. Unique to your business, you should include a concise and relevant slogan when sharing original content. Then, encourage followers to use it as well. This way, they’ll have a precise method of sharing posts with you and others interested in your company’s products or services. The online community will also know how to find content about your brand.

A brand hashtag is a way for users to let the social community know what they think about your company. Instead of just sending you a message, they’re speaking to their followers and other users who look for tagged posts.

Everyone stands to benefit because:
You build a discussion around your brand, encouraging the online community to learn more about your products and services while promoting them. Ideally, consumers will also follow the links you share.

Those using the hashtag will draw attention to their posts, possibly earning more followers.
As a bonus, you can run a promotional contest. For example, the person who creates the most-shared post using your hashtag will win a prize at the end of each month.


  • Use branded hashtags
  • Select hashtags that resonate with your brand image
  • Be consistent and authentic with the hashtags you choose



  • Ignore your brand image
  • Focus too much on visibility


You may operate a business with a narrow focus, but hashtags will reveal your brand values to your followers. For example, a local organic restaurant can promote #sustainablefood and encourage customers to #eatlocal to show their core values.  A boutique store might use tags like #model and #beautiful to show that they value positive body imagery.  The hashtags you pick will develop your brand, letting you resonate deeply with users that share your values.


5.  Analyze your customer base

An easily overlooked aspect of hashtagging is analytics.  When you have a business account on Instagram, you can see the breakdown of where your engagement is coming from.  You can experiment with different hashtags to see what your users like to get valuable insight into who your customers are.  Do they respond better to #warriorwednesday or #ihatemondays?

Use hashtags that have between 10,000 to 500,000 posts. If you stick with the super popular (and oversaturated) hashtags, your post will be buried in a couple of minutes. You might get a few extra likes, but your post isn’t going to trend in the “Top Posts” section. The “Top Posts” section is the nine most popular posts for a hashtag in a 24-hour to 48-hour period.

Your goal is to get your post up in the “Top Posts” section. If you can get your post to trend, your reach will go up, and you’ll get more eyeballs on your posts without paying for a single ad. It’s an opportunity to capture the attention of your ideal customer for free and create a highly engaged, targeted following. The sweet spot is finding tags used frequently but allowing you to trend for a few hours. Also, it’s an easy way to make sure the hashtag you want to use isn’t so saturated that your posts have no chance of being discovered.

If you can find 30 relevant hashtags for your target audience — use them all! It may seem like a lot, but it gives your content more chances of being discovered without ads. You can choose to use your 30 hashtags directly in your post caption or paste them as the first comment of your post.

Instagram has recently rolled out a new reporting feature. If a user comes across your post in their feed from a hashtag, and it’s not relevant, they can mark your content as something they don’t want to see. As a result, your posts won’t appear in their feed for that tag. While it is a way for the algorithm to serve better content, having too many of your posts marked in this way could negatively impact your reach and flag your account as spam.

Data and analytics are crucial to finding the right hashtags for your audience. These analytics are essential for your long-term hashtagging strategy, so don’t be afraid to play the extended game.  Get creative with your hashtags and see what sticks.  Make sure to chart and track the success of these hashtags so you can have an informed strategy, and make sure to check your analytics daily, if not more.

If you have a business profile on IG, you can delve deep into your profile’s analytics. One of the most useful new features is the ability to drill down into your hashtags for each post. You can see exactly which ones brought you the most views and how people find your content. Use it as a guideline to cull low-traffic hashtags and focus on the most effective ones to attract your target audience and grow your business.

All you need to do is select a post and hit the “View Insights” icon on the bottom left to access this information. Then, swipe up, and you’ll get a fantastic page of analytics like your reach, impressions, follows, and top hashtags.


  • Use the maximum allowed number of hashtags
  • Frequently check your analytics
  • Experiment with different hashtags


  • Use hashtags with low engagement
  • Rely too heavily on popular tags
  • Use hashtags that aren’t relevant to your post
  • Ignore your analytics

If you’re looking to connect with your audience, land those sales and figure out the three types of valuable content your prospective clients or customers care about.


6.  Generate sales

Of course, the overall goal of Instagram marketing is to generate real-world sales, and billions of daily engagements make Instagram a hotbed for acquisitions.  Hashtags are a funnel for driving conversions, letting you find and guide potential customers to your products and services.

You’ll have to curate a strategy based on your business model, but using hashtags that pique your audience’s curiosity is one surefire way to generate leads. For example, users will be more curious to find out more about a contractor with the tag #harddayswork than #construction, so be creative with how you tag your posts.


  • Use a proficient hashtag strategy to target users
  • Frequently use your most effective hashtags
  • Target your most dedicated followers


  • Get too caught up in building your follower base
  • Ignore hashtags as a powerful sales generator
  • Forget to create conversions constantly

You can integrate each aspect of hashtagging to convert your Instagram followers into customers.  Make your content more visible to the right users, engage and connect with them, drive them to your products and services, and communicate your value to them.  All of this is facilitated with the correct hashtag strategy, and you can see real-world results from your effective social media marketing.



To craft your Instagram strategy, you need to make these tips your top priority. First, use hashtags to increase your visibility and engage users.  You can create a community and communicate your brand to your followers by targeting the right audience. Instagram’s powerful analytics make it easier than ever to understand your customers, and you can use hashtags to drive acquisition and sales.  Which of these tips do you think will help your business the most?

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