How to find the best hashtags for Instagram

Sprinkle Club - A woman finding the best hashtags to use on instagram on her phone

If you run a small independent business you’ve probably thought about what hashtags you should use on your Instagram posts, but never really thought about it in any greater detail than that. Hashtags are not as straightforward as you may think, in fact, they are quite complex, but fear not, we will explain everything you need to know on how to nail your hashtags for Instagram and how they can help you grow your community and make it thrive.

The basics

Sprinkle Club - A woman sitting on a sofa with a laptop looking for the best 30 hashtags to use for instagram

Photo by Vlada Karpovich

Let’s start off with the basics. On each Instagram post, you have a maximum of 30 hashtags you can use whether that’s in the caption or the first comment. Most people don’t tend to utilise all 30 hashtags and this is bad for growth, let us tell you why. Basically, Instagram has given us this gift of 30 different ways people can discover your profile, that’s why you should use every last one of them. But don’t just use any old hashtag, you must be strategic and use ones that are relevant to your brand and what you are posting about. This may sound obvious, but it’s not to everyone.

It’s important to use a mixture of small and large hashtags, 10 small and niche, 10 medium size and 10 slightly larger. What we mean by the size of hashtags is that how many posts on Instagram have used that specific hashtag. For example, the 10 small and niche hashtags you want to aim for 10,000 - 50,000 posts and for the medium size, 50,000 - 100,000 and finally for the slightly larger hashtags, 100,000 - 500,000. We’ll go into more detail about this a little later.

Instagram business insights

Sprinkle Club - Someone using instagram on their phone to view their business account insights

Photo by Omkar Patyane

To be able to measure how well your hashtags are working you’ll need a business account, this is super easy to switch over and is extremely beneficial if you are running a small business and you’re looking to grow your community. To view, your post insights you will need to click on a post and in the bottom left corner there will be a button saying ‘view insights’. Once clicked on this you will see a breakdown of things like, profile visits, reach and website clicks, for hashtags we’ll be concentrating on the discovery section. The stat that will tell you how well your hashtags are performing is the ‘% weren’t following (account name)’. This means that a percentage of people that have seen your post were not following you and have discovered your account through a hashtag, obviously the higher the percentage number the better.

The more exposure you get to your account the more followers you will get which in the future could potentially lead to sales and over time you can market to them and convert them into a super fan of your brand. This is why hashtags are so important and they should not be thrown together quickly. Hashtags take time to get right and they need to be tested and tested again to see which ones work well for your small business. We know it can feel like effort sometimes as you have a million other things to do as part of running a small business but this is a vital part of your growth and if you plan ahead and put aside an hour each week dedicated to hashtag research it won’t feel like such a task.

Hashtag Expert

Sprinkle Club - Two women laughing on a bench after finding the best hashtags on instagram

Photo by Elle Hughes

Hashtag Expert is a great app that is used for researching hashtags and predicting how well your post will place for a set of hashtags. All you need to do is type in a bunch of keywords that are related to your niche and the app will ‘generate hashtags’ that are related to those keywords. There is another option that we prefer to use which is the ‘handpick hashtags’ option, this will give you a list of how many times those hashtags have been used and this is where the niche, medium and larger hashtags come into play.

You don’t want to pick hashtags that have millions of posts as the chances of your posts getting seen are very slim. Instead, picking hashtags that are relatively niche will work better for you as there is a higher chance that your posts won’t get lost in the abyss. But, we would say don’t go too niche as your posts will likely be seen by no one which is also really bad! Your best bet is to stick to a nice mixture of hashtags between 10,000 - 500,000.

Ideas for hashtags

Sprinkle Club - A woman sitting at a desk using her laptop to research what hashtags her competitors are using

Photo by cottonbro

Sometimes it can be hard coming up with ideas for hashtags, but we have a few steps that can help you. A good starting place is to see what hashtags your competitors are using and cherry-pick the ones that will work for your brand, but don’t copy all their hashtags as something that works for one brand won’t work for everyone. Look at what posts have worked well for them and what type of hashtags they have used.

Another route to go down is to do a quick google search for national days that are coming up, that are relevant to your brand. Don’t jump on every national day know to woman (see what I did there), as your Instagram feed will get oversaturated with things that you aren’t really passionate about and your followers will sense this. Be selective when posting about national days and if it’s close to your heart we say go for it!

Quick access to a bank of hashtags

Sprinkle Club - A woman on her phone using the Later instagram scheduling app to access a bank of hashtags
Later is a great Instagram scheduling tool that we’ve used for years and they have a super cool time-saving tool that is perfect for easy access to hashtags if you’re in a rush. When you go to schedule a post there is the option to ‘save a caption’ and you can give that caption a file name. Instead of saving captions, this is a great feature for you to save up a bank of hashtags and put them into categories that are related to your brand and niche. Next time you’re in a rush pick a few categories of hashtags and mix them up and you’re ready to go!

Test, experiment, repeat

Sprinkle Club - A woman smiling because she has mastered her instagram hashtags

Photo by Katie E

Now that we’ve given you all the tools you need to nail your hashtags just remember to test and experiment with as many hashtag combinations as you can and see which ones work best for you. Sometimes a post that you thought would have done well might have performed badly, but this is not always down to hashtags as it could have been the time of day, the day, the weather outside, there is a magnitude of moving parts to getting seen on Instagram which is not always in your control but if you keep testing, experimenting and repeating the process you will get into the grove and find the happy balance that you’ve been looking for.


We hope you took a lot of new knowledge about hashtags for Instagram from this blog and we’d love to hear if any of the advice we’ve given has worked for you.

You can keep in touch with us on Instagram anytime We hope to see you again soon!

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