Are you fairly new to Instagram? If so, are you comfortable using hashtags? Hashtags are vital to your Instagram success. When you become the Grand Master of Hashtags*, your engagement and fan base will soar. In this article, you’ll learn how hashtags work and how to use them powerfully without breaking a sweat. (You’re welcome.)

First, what are hashtags?

Hashtags are keywords that make your content more findable. They make sense on some social media sites, but not all. (Read here why hashtags and Facebook shouldn’t mix.) Now, Instagram is hashtag heaven. That’s because Instagram users often search for topics based on hashtags. So if you add the right hashtags to your posts, they’re more likely to appear in other users’ search results.

For instance, check out the hashtags at the bottom of the post below. (And please forgive the shameless self promotion. Or not.)


Where do you put hashtags?

Hashtags look weird, so keep them separate from your main caption. The easiest way is to put line breaks between the caption and hashtags, similar to the example above.

How do you use hashtags strategically?

First, use as many hashtags as you can—as close as possible to Instagram’s limit of 30 per post. (Keep reading! I’ll show you a quick way to do this.)

Second, use hashtags that are relevant to your industry and that people would realistically use. On a related note, don’t waste your time with branded hashtags that no one cares about but you. For instance, while Delaware ShoutOut has a solid fan base, no one on Earth uses or searches for hashtags like #delawareshoutoutisawesome or #brookemilesisamazing. So they don’t go in my posts, either. Just stick with the basic keywords that are generally on people’s radars.

Third, include hashtags that are just slightly less popular. Why? Let’s say you’re a mortgage broker. The #mortgage hashtag has been used 1.4M times on Instagram, so you can imagine the stiff competition to show high up on #mortgage search results. But if you also include #mortgagetips (23K), #mortgagepro (28K), and #mortgagelending (26K), you have a fighting chance.

How do you find ideas for hashtags?

Log into Instagram and:

  1. Tap on the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Tap on the search bar at the top of the next screen.
  3. Tap on Tags at the top of the following screen.
  4. Type a keyword you think should work, and you’ll see lots of variations to choose from. The popularity of each hashtag is marked as well.

How do you type 30 hashtags in each post without driving yourself nuts?

I use a program called TextExpander that’s practically free ($40/year). This article describes it fully. I use keyboard shortcuts/snippets for different batches of hashtags (one snippet for marketing hashtags, one snippet for Delaware hashtags, etc.), so it takes me literally 10 seconds to populate 30 hashtags of my choosing. TextExpander works on all devices and all software programs, so you can use it for all aspects of your business.

Or, if you don’t want to part with $40, you can create shortcuts on your phone in your settings. Another option is to create an MS Word document with all your hashtags typed out and sorted into categories; you would then copy/paste the appropriate categories into your Instagram caption (this works if you’re prescheduling posts on a third-party desktop app).

Wow. That was a LOT of information! If you need more guidance in your #instagrammarketing journey, please connect with me at

* Grand Master of Hashtags is an imaginary title. But you can add it to your résumé and LinkedIn profile if you think it sounds impressive.

Get practical (and often humorous) tips on LinkedIn and time management.


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