Fastest way to grow your Instagram following for free? Use hashtags like a pro

by | Nov 16, 2017 | Instagram marketing | 0 comments

So many people and businesses don’t understand hashtags, and it’s such a missed opportunity for them to quickly grow a targeted Instagram following and increase engagement.

While it’s great to create one or two catchy branded hashtags unique to your business or marketing campaign, it’s absolutely pointless only using hashtags you’ve made up for the sake of it, or because they sound interesting or cool.

Here’s the thing: using the right hashtags (or combination of hashtags) can expose your business to large and targeted audiences for free.

Hashtags are the most effective way to quickly grow your Instagram following without paying a cent.

They’re also a great way to reach an international audience.

But how exactly do hashtags work?

Think of hashtags as descriptive words or phrases that help organize and categorize photos and video content on Instagram.

Every hashtag has its own gallery on Instagram, which you can view by typing in the hashtag in the search bar. These are then broken down into a ‘Top’ section and ‘Recent’ section.

Posts in the ‘Top’ section are determined by a combination of how much engagement they receive (likes and comments) and how recent they are.

For example:

A food blogger posts an image of her blueberry smoothie to Instagram, and uses these popular descriptive hashtags – #superfoods, #cleaneating, #healthyfood, #fruit, #healthyeating, #blueberry and #smoothie – in the caption of her image.

People with similar interests (healthy lifestyle) can then discover her image when they search for the popular hashtags she’s used in her post.

The maximum number of hashtags allowed per post is 30. They can be placed in the caption of your post or in a comment after you’ve published the post.

To see whether a hashtag is popular, simply type it in the search bar of your Instagram mobile app under the explore/ tags section or use the Instagram website here. Instagram tells you how often that hashtag has been used, which equals popularity.

Tip: Use a mix of popular hashtags and less popular hashtags to stand a chance of featuring  as a ‘Top’ post. Don’t use random popular hashtags just because you think it will lead to more likes. Use relevant, descriptive hashtags to what you are posting or what your business is about.


Free tool to help you find hashtags

Display Purposes is a free online tool that will help you discover the best relevant hashtags for your post.

To use it, type in a couple of hashtags in the box and it will then suggest a whole lot of additional, related hashtags. The results are ordered by how useful they will be to you. Junk hashtags and overly-generic hashtags are filtered out of the results.

References and further reading: –
Display Purposes –
Peta Pixel –

This post is the first in a series aimed at helping businesses leverage Instagram. I’ll be publishing an in-depth step-by-step guide to Instagram for businesses in the form of a free ebook at the end of the process. Sign up below if you want to receive updates.


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