The Ultimate Guide To Using Instagram Hashtags in 2022

Pippa Akram of Social Pip gives valuable insights into how Instagram hashtags work, and how to make the most of them.

Never has an Instagram feature been so hotly debated and the cause of so much confusion and controversy than the humble hashtag! Here’s 10 things you need to know about using hashtags on Instagram in 2022:

  1. They don’t work like they used to. Sorry, don’t shoot the messenger but it’s true! I’m not saying they won’t get you extra reach but they cannot be relied upon to work their ‘reach magic’ consistently like they used to.
  1. Hashtags now act as keywords too. They will still allow users to discover your content via a hashtag search BUT their new additional function means they surface your content in keyword searches too. For example, the post below appeared in the ‘Top’ tab for the search term ‘summer style dress’ because the hashtags ‘dress’, ‘summer’ and ‘fashion’ were used. Consider hashtags and the words you use in your captions as the new Instagram SEO.
instagram post from @mysabella - model wearing an orange floaty summer dress. Caption: Amerge dress in stock. Hashtags: #mysabella #dress #fashion #istanbul #onlineshopping #summer #orange

  1. Don’t put them in your comments. Your hashtags MUST be in the caption of your post or reel to help your content show up in keyword searches. If they are in your comments they won’t work as keywords.
  1. Quality over quantity. Choosing the best hashtags rather than lots of them has never been more important with this move towards keyword searching. 10 precise and targeted hashtags will likely bring you more worthwhile results than using 30 mediocre ones.
  1. Don’t use super popular hashtags. It might feel counter intuitive to avoid using popular hashtags (any over 1 million) but choosing less frequently used ones will provide your content with longer ‘hashtag search’ life. Those over 1 million are saturated with content, updated every few seconds with a new post and consequently make it really hard to appear in the ‘top’ and ‘recent’ tab in a hashtag search.
  1. Include hashtags your ideal followers use. In addition to including descriptive hashtags about your business don’t forget to add hashtags to your post/reel that your audience are following, using and searching. For instance I wouldn’t search for #petinsurance but I would search for #cutedogsofinsta and I might follow the ‘dogsoflondon’ hashtag and consequently see suggested posts from accounts I don’t follow in my feed.
  1. Local businesses need to focus on location hashtags. If you are a business that serves a particular geographical area these will be among your most powerful hashtags.
  1. Make sure you have a branded hashtag. This is a hashtag unique to your business, which you should include on all your posts and reels and encourage those who post about you on social media to use too; the power of user generated content to influence potential buyers should not be underestimated and this is a great way to collect and surface that content.
  1. Never include generic hashtags in your bio. Most people who visit your profile are visitors. By including tappable generic hashtags in your bio you’re inviting visitors to leave your account, possibly before they’ve even followed you. The only hashtag in your bio should be your branded one.
  1. Do not use them in Stories. Hashtag stories haven’t been a thing since late 2020, by using them in your Stories you’re giving your followers another way to easily tap away from your content which you definitely don’t want to do!

It’s easy to lose hours obsessing over hashtags but don’t, they are not a quick fix for your Instagram reach issues and are one small way to get discovered on the platform. Spending time taking advantage of Instagram features such as Collaborative Posts and Going Live with others will enable you to direct and control exactly who you reach in a more meaningful way than hashtags ever will.    

About Pippa Akram

Pippa Akram, known by many as ‘Social Pip’ has been helping small businesses get to grips with their social media for over 10 years. In the last 5 years she’s become known for her Instagram expertise and regularly holds both in person and online workshops, 1-2-1 training and mentoring sessions. Fuelled by tea and cake she likes nothing more than shopping small whenever possible.

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Find out more about Pippa here and if you’re on Instagram you can follow her for more free tips and advice.

Pippa Akram of Social Pip smiling, sitting on her kitchen worktop, using her Mac laptop and iphone.
Pippa Akram of Social Pip

For more small business advice, check out our blog page on here.


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