If you know how to use hashtags on Instagram, can you really build an army of followers?

They certainly can help. And to grow your reach and gain more influence, they’re pretty much necessary. Virtually every popular social media account uses them, but what’s the best strategy?

Some fill post descriptions entirely with hashtags, while others include a few targeted hashtags when needed.

In this article, we’ll cover what works, what doesn’t, and how to use hashtags on Instagram if you want to build your following.

Do Hashtags Really Help You Grow Your Reach?

Since Instagram can provide brands with up to 25% more engagement than other platforms, it’s certainly necessary to use Instagram. But do hashtags really help you gain more followers?

Yes they do. According to Buffer, the more hashtags you use, the better. 11 or more hashtags get the most interactions from followers.

However, your growth will be more successful if you can learn to use the right hashtags in the right way.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Hashtags to Grow Followers

As with any marketing campaign, you need a strategy and a plan. This simple recipe will help you cover all your bases.

1.  Know your customer… and their hashtags.

Your customers are the bread, butter, and meat of any marketing campaign. You should know what matters to them so you can tailor your Instagram feed to their interests.

Work with any existing customer data to discover users on Instagram. Over time, you’ll be able to build a list of hashtags that are commonly used by your target audience.

It’s not always the best idea to target the network’s most popular hashtags, which can be generic and irrelevant. For instance:

  • #love
  • #instagood
  • #me
  • #follow

These hashtags are fairly generic, irrelevant, and probably won’t result in many quality followers.

2. Use these hashtags consistently.

As you saw above, higher numbers of hashtags means higher numbers of interactions. So load up on the hashtags that you discovered in your research and use them.

Make sure you are consistent and frequent with your hashtag usage, since smaller numbers of hashtags means less interactions.  

3. Follow relevant trends.

Trends come and go, but when they’re hot, they’re hot.

Follow popular trends relevant to your industry, your users, and their interests. For instance, many time-sensitive trends generate high amounts of hashtags and traffic, such as:

  • Holidays
  • Sporting Events
  • Celebrities
  • TV Shows
  • Movies

And so on. Find and follow trends that your audience follows and you’ll gain more exposure to that crowd.

Also, follow established trends and hashtags, such as #selfie, #instalike, and so on.

4. Be inspiring.

Inspiring quotes are common online because they are engaging. They could be considered memes, since they often take on a life of their own and can earn shares and favorites.

To make your quotes engaging, use popular image creation tools like Canva, Pablo, Skitch, and so on.

Naturally, these should be spread with the right hashtags, like #instaquote, #quoteoftheday, and #qotd.

5. Send status updates.

Whether you’re a company or a person, you can still use hashtags to send out status updates.

The hashtag #am, when followed by a verb, will often result in a hashtag that will resonate with certain segments:

  • #amwriting
  • #amreading
  • #amediting
  • #amdriving

Another to use is #WIDN (What I’m Doing Now).

6. Use long-tail hashtags and double, triple, or quadruple similar hashtags.

What is a long-tail hashtag?

In the same way that hashtags can be as simple as #mensfashion, you can also create more specific hashtags, like #mensfashionweeknewyork. However, using one doesn’t keep you from using another similar hashtag.

If you use #mensfashion, then you can still double up with similar hashtags, such as #mensfashionweek, #mensfashionweekny, #mensfashionweeknewyork, #mensfashiontips, and so forth. As mentioned, more is better, so there’s no reason to stop.

7. Geotarget.

If you are a local business or want to target users in a specific area, use geotargeted hashtags. Cities, states, countries, regions, landmarks, and other geographically relevant hashtags can increase engagement with users in a certain area.

You can also compound place hashtags to spread your net as far and wide as possible. For example, #california, #ca, #sanfrancisco, #sf, #bayarea, and so forth.

8. Create a hashtag strategy.

All these hashtags can be used to improve your follower engagement, but the more systemic your approach, the more measurable your results.

Like every other aspect of your marketing plan, you should create a plan that canvases the spectrum of your target audience. The best way to do this is to explore all the hashtag techniques mentioned here and ensure you regularly hashtag trends, geographic locations, status updates, and so forth.

Some users in your target audience will only follow certain types of hashtags, so use an editorial calendar to make sure you regularly hit these hashtags.


For businesses both small and large, hashtags can help you increase engagement and grow your army of followers. As mentioned, don’t be afraid to use as many hashtags as you can think of. And the more systematic and consistent you are, the better your results will be.