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How to use Hashtags on Instagram Stories
Julia Cohen
Julia Cohen
Posted Thu Jun 25 2020
In Instagram Hashtags

In this article, we talk you through what you need to know about how to use hashtags on your Instagram Story, in order to see results.

Hashtags are everywhere on Instagram, because they are the platform’s primary way of categorising, and communicating the type of content that people are posting about. But, we haven’t talked a lot about how hashtags work on Story posts, as opposed to IGTV, static feed images or carousel content. Today, we wanted to give you the lowdown on how to use hashtags on Instagram Stories, as well as answer your common questions.

How to use Hashtags on Instagram Stories

A question we see often, is whether hashtags work on Instagram Stories to begin with. The answer? They do. The Story feature supports the use of Instagram hashtags, and will still help to make your content discoverable. Hashtags can be added in 3 different ways:

  1. In a hashtag sticker (one per Story post)
  2. In normal Story text
  3. In a location tag (one per Story post)

You know a hashtag is actually working in normal story text if it is underlined, just like if you tag a friend in a Story post.

How do hashtags work on Instagram Stories? 🧐

When someone searches for something on Instagram, each hashtag will have an Instagram story in the top lefthand corner. Just like a normal story, if you click on this, you will see a curation of Story posts that have been created within that given day.

But, here’s the catch. Unlike your feed posts, which will appear within a hashtag (whether it ranks or not) if you use it, Stories are curated. This means that just because you use a hashtag on a Story, it isn’t guaranteed that your Story will appear or be featured on that hashtag. Essentially, Story hashtags are a little bit more selective, as Story engagement metrics are harder to apply to display the top ranking content, and the volume of Story posts in a day is much higher.

Additionally, Stories can appear on your Explore page. If your Story is highly engaged with, it may appear on your target audience’s Explore page, and the best way to increase the chances of this happening, is by using hashtags. This signifies to Instagram exactly what your content is about, so it can suggest your Stories to users who consume that type of content, or may be interested in what you share.

how to instagram hashtags work stories

Because of the selectivity of Story hashtags, you need to be smart about how you use them. 

How to use hashtags on Instagram Stories like a pro

1. Avoid banned hashtags 👋

First things first: you’ve probably heard us talk about banned hashtags, right? If not, you can read more about them and how they impact your account, here. Banned hashtags work the same way on Stories as they do on feed posts. If a hashtag is banned on Instagram, it will not display, or show a limited number of posts when someone searches that hashtag. Banned hashtags display no story content, so if your goal is to reach more people when using a Story hashtag, make sure it isn’t a banned one. You can check this manually, or by using our Banned Hashtag Scanner, within Flick.

2. Utilize location hashtags to your advantage 📍

The hashtags you are most likely to rank on when it comes to Stories, are location-based hashtags, as well as location tags. Each location that is registered via Instagram, has an associated hashtag. Because a location hashtag is more niche (it essentially whittles down your competition to just the people in your area), it is a lot more likely your Story content will be displayed, or ‘rank’. So, make use of the rankability of location hashtags, by applying them to your Story content, to up your chances of increasing your reach.

3. Consider your audience 🗣

As you probably already know, people can follow hashtags. If someone follows a hashtag, sometimes, they will see the Stories from that hashtag in their Story bar at the top of their homepage, or Instagram feed. If you know your audience or target audience is likely to search for a certain hashtag, you can use this to your advantage by putting yourself in their shoes. Think about what kind of hashtags people would go out of their way to follow. If you are a fishing influencer for example, your target might follow the hashtag #catchoftheday. If you have a Collection of hashtags that you think your ideal audience are likely to follow, you can make sure to include these in your future Stories whenever you post.

4. How to hide your hashtags 👻

Some people don’t like using too many hashtags in their stories, because it might take away from the content itself, or cloud your image/video with too much text. The simple answer to this, is to hide your hashtags within your content, meaning they will still work, but won’t be clickable or visible. There are two methods for this:

  1. Pinch the hashtag you have written out to make the text much smaller, and place it in the corner of an image.
  2. Place a Gif or image over your hashtag to hide them, or, after writing our your hashtags, place the image you are sharing back into the foreground, so they disappear completely (this works better when re-sharing feed posts or Stories)

5. How can Flick help you optimize your hashtags for Stories? 📲

Hashtag rules are hashtag rules, you can apply a strategy for Instagram hashtags on your Stories – just like you would for your feed. Here’s where we can help.

  • Niche still matters. In fact, it really matters. Because Story hashtags are even more competitive, if you want to be featured, you need to make sure you are using the right hashtags in terms of your engagement as well as your niche. The more tailored the hashtag, the more likely you are to rank, and the more relevant the hashtag is to your Story content, the more likely your audience will engage, increasing your chances of ranking. So, make sure you are still using Suggested filters on Flick when you search for hashtags for Stories, and search for keywords that are relevant to your post. More on our recommendations for hashtag strategy, here.
  • Avoid banned hashtags. Flick has an integrated Banned Hashtag Scanner, which allows you check which hashtags from your selected list are banned, before you post.
  • Use multiple hashtags. You don’t have to overload your Stories, but in our Analytics Suite, you can understand which hashtags perform the best for you on average, as well as which hashtags you tend to rank on. If you use your top-performing hashtags on your Story content, you are much more likely to rank, and therefore see results!

banned instagram hashtags