Are you confused about how Instagram hashtags work for businesses? Have you ever wondered how the algorithm sorts them or ranks them? Do you wanna learn about how to maximise them for exposure? Stick around because we’re gonna talk all about it.

We understand that a lot of people struggle with Instagram hashtags. They either don’t know how to use them for their business, or they think they don’t work. Today, we’re gonna go through how Instagram hashtags work, where to put them, how to use them effectively for your business, and talk about how search results are sorted for Instagram hashtags. Stick around to learn what it takes to make a good hashtag for your business!

Why are hashtags important on Instagram?

The reality is, they’re part of the secret to success. Instagram has very limited search capabilities as a platform, and one of the best ways to get more eyes on your content is to use hashtags. This will allow you to show up in various searches for your target audience and get more people finding your content.

Where to use hashtags?

So if you’re using hashtags to get found in search, there’s three specific places that you can use hashtags in your Instagram content.

One is gonna be the Instagram feed posts where you can use up to 30 hashtags. You wanna put them either in the caption or comment in order to have them rank for search. Anything beyond 30 will not show up in search.

Secondly is Instagram stories, where you can only use up to three hashtags. You can use one hashtag sticker, or put three in a text box.

Third is IGTV. Like a feed post, you can also use up to 30 in the description of your IGTV video.

How are hashtag search results populated?

So now that you know you can use hashtags, and you wanna put them in all of your content, it’s worth noting that there’s no guarantee that you will actually show up in any specific hashtag search. All these results for hashtags are actually sorted algorithmically. Now that sounds complicated, but we’re going to explain it so you understand how they are sorted. 

When it comes to a search feed in Instagram, you go to the little magnifying glass, you go to search and you go and look for a hashtag. You’re gonna see two tabs. One is gonna be for top performing posts, and one is gonna be for recent posts.

Everything in the top post is definitely algorithmically sorted. And that is determined based on you as an individual and the type of content you interact with. So if you really like puppies, you’re more likely to see content with puppies in a search result. If you really like self-help type content, you’re more likely to see that in a search result, no matter what type of content you’re looking for in a hashtag. The algorithm knows what you look for, and it’s gonna sort that out for you when you make a search. This means that if you do the same hashtag search with someone else next to you, you will get completely different results because they’re personalised for you.

Now, if you switch over to the recent tab in that hashtag search, that is sorted chronologically. Here is where you’re more likely to appear but there’s still an algorithmic sort associated with this, and there’s not a guarantee that your content will show up in every hashtag, or even any of the hashtags that you specifically use. But there’s always a chance that you can! When it comes to hashtags, we look at it like a ‘use or a lose it’ thing. If you don’t use them, then there’s completely no chance of it showing up in search. But if you do, then there’s a better chance of getting found by more people! So we want to use them, take advantage of them, and get the opportunity for more people to see your content. 

How to create a good hashtag for your brand?

And now for the bonus, how to make a good, memorable hashtag for your business? Here’s the thing to remember when it comes to hashtags. Nobody owns a hashtag. You can’t trademark them, anybody can use them and they can be any combination of words or phrases. So sometimes we’ll see these really long run hashtags with running words, and sometimes you see something abbreviated super short.

Is one better than the other? Well, it depends on you, your business, your audience, and what you’re using that hashtag for. So things like contest hashtags can usually be a little bit longer. You want it to be descriptive and related to the contest or giveaway, so it’s very clear in the hashtag that it’s for that purpose.

If it’s your typical branded hashtag for your business, short, sweet and easy to remember is key. We don’t want something overly complicated, or hard to spell, or have 30 characters in it. People won’t want to use that frequently. But you also don’t want it to be too short, because if it’s a shortened acronym it might be something that other brands or other people are using already. Then your content wouldn’t be the only one linked to that hashtag, and that can create confusion around your brand. Ideally, we want something somewhere between 10 to 20 characters. You can also look at how you can abbreviate and incorporate that for your business, and you’ll be successful with your branded hashtags!

So this was a general overview of how Instagram hashtags work, but there is so much more strategy involved for each of the feed, stories, and IGTV. So go check out this page, where you can find more articles on how to use Instagram effectively for your business!