A comprehensive guide to Instagram Hashtags in 2019

Learn how to use Instagram hashtags for reach and growth in 2019 with our in-depth guide. 📙

Elliott Davies

Elliott Davies


This comprehensive guide to Instagram hashtags in 2019 will help you fully understand the intricacies of how hashtags work and will allow you to increase your reach, engagement and followers on Instagram.

You will learn how to use hashtags smartly to leverage their power and the different steps you will need to implement in order to put together the ultimate hashtag strategy.

Since their release in 2011, hashtags have been the pillar of Instagram’s powerful Algorithm. Therefore, understanding how to use hashtags is a must for any business or individual trying to grow, engage or monetize their Instagram account.

Content Menu:

  1. 📱 Instagram at it's core and the Instagram Algorithm.
  2. 🤷🏼‍ Why Instagram hashtags are a must in 2019.
  3. 🤔 What are the best hashtags to use for content creators and businesses in 2019?
  4. 🔍 Using Flick to find the best hashtags for your Instagram account.
  5. 🥇 How to rank on Instagram hashtags in 2019.

1. 📱 Instagram at its core and the Instagram Algorithm.

The first step to understanding how to utilise Instagram and how to best utilise hashtags for growth is to remind ourselves what Instagram is at it's most basic level, their number one goal and what role the Instagram algorithm plays.

At Flick, we operate with this core understanding:

Instagram is a search engine, and the language of discovery is Hashtags.
Instagram's Goal is to keep as many users on the platform for as long as possible in order to sell eyeballs to advertisers.
Instagram's Algorithm is AI that ensures you are exclusively served content that it thinks you will enjoy.

A deeper look at the Instagram Algorithm.

In order to tailor content Instagram tracks every action each user makes and maps it to an interest graph to better classify what you like:

Actions Instagram tracks:

  • What you content you engage with
  • What content you view and how long you view it for
  • What hashtags you use, search and follow
  • What hashtags are in your bio
  • Who you follow or unfollow
  • The content you post (caption, image, hashtags etc)

To help you visualise what this graph could look like and how deep it goes, we created a visualisation using some of our hashtag data to look at the creative arts niche.

Using this information, they decide what content to show you, but more importantly, who to show your content to.

2. 🤷🏼‍ Why should you use Instagram hashtags in 2019?

Since their release, hashtags have always been important to reach your audience. However, since the late months of 2017, Instagram has released new features focusing on bringing back hashtags to the forefront of the user’s minds. This has created a huge opportunity for brands and individuals to organically reach their audience and gain followers.

We will now go over the most important features that make using hashtags a must in 2019:

Reason 1: Users can now follow hashtags

The ability for users to follow their favorite hashtags has increased the potential discoverability a single hashtag can bring to a post. It has also streamlined the process of seeing hashtag content. Instead of having to search the hashtag and go through it’s content, you now see the top content straight on your feed, this feels much more natural and has therefore increased the amount of traffic hashtags generate.

Reason 2:  Access to hashtag insights

Along with being able to follow hashtags, you can now see exactly how many impressions hashtags bring you. However, this is only available to users who have a business profile on Instagram.

If you have a business profile simply click “insights” on a recent post and you will have access to reach, impressions, different forms of engagement and of course impressions generated from hashtags. The added insight can be used to A/B test different hashtags and figure out exactly which ones are bringing you the most engagement.

Reason 3: Add interactive hashtags to your bio:

Instagram now allows you to add hashtags to your bio. All you have to do is write a “#” before any word you want to hashtag. This is very useful when promoting your own brands hashtag.

Another lesser known use of doing this is communicating clearly with the Instagram algorithm to indicate exactly what kind of account you are and who your content should be displayed to.

Reason 4: Use hashtags in your stories:

Finally, you are able to add a hashtag to your Instagram story giving you yet another channel to reach your target audience. Indeed, just like regular posts, using a hashtag on a story will make it appear on the hashtags feed, the feed of the users following the hashtag and the explore pages of people who might be interested in content related to that hashtag.

3. 🤔 What are the best hashtags to use for content creators and businesses in 2019?

Unfortunately, there is no one combination of hashtags that allow you to have instant success on Instagram. However, this also means that the lucky few who know what to look for, have a huge advantage over their competitors.

Use relevant hashtags:

If you only remember one thing from this section, remember this. Every post made requires a different set of hashtags. Remember, Instagram track your behavior on the app, your content, and of course all your activity with hashtags. Hence, the number one concern for finding the best hashtags for your posts is to use the most relevant hashtags to your account size, post content and target audience.

However, it’s not that easy. You can’t simply be posting content and use relevant yet broad hashtags. For the best results, niche down as much as possible. For example, if I was posting on a couple’s travel account, I wouldn’t simply be using #travel, #beach, or #worldtravel. Although these hashtags are somewhat relevant they are too broad and you will struggle to compete on such big hashtags. Instead, use smaller, very specific hashtags such as #travellers, #coupleswhotravel or #travellingcouple. These can sometimes be very hard to find, so we will be explaining later in this article our system to find the perfect and most relevant hashtags for your post.

Figure out which hashtags your audience engage with:

The next thing you must consider is whether your target audience is present on the hashtags that your are using. If that’s the case, when you use the very niche hashtags,  your target audience will be highly likely to see them on their feed and explore page. However, if you have misevaluated where your target audience engages then you will be reaching the wrong audience. This will result in a high engagement but not from the desired demographic. If this is the case don’t worry, your best bet is to carry out some competitor analysis. Doing this can be time consuming which is why our next section will teach you all about the tools you need to find the best hashtags for your account.

If you'd like to dive further into this, we have an in-depth walkthrough on how we find the best hashtags for our clients here.

4. 🔍 Using Flick to find the best hashtags for your Instagram account

Flick - reach your target audience through hashtags

Finding the most relevant hashtags for your Instagram account is often very hard and time consuming even once you’ve understood the theory behind it. So we had our tech team build a tool that will find them for you. Unlike other tools it isn’t based on keywords. In order to find the most relevant hashtags it analyses two data points:

  • Hashtags used together: Our tool constantly analyses Instagram activity and creates links between different hashtags based on how often users use them simultaneously with other hashtags.
  • Overlap in engagers: Our tool is also able to analyze which hashtags have high percentages of similar people engaging on them, this allows you to confidently reach your target audience.

How does it work?

It’s very simple, insert your initial hashtag into the search box, press enter and voila! The most relevant hashtags to your search will be outputted.

As previously mentioned, it’s very important to niche down. This tool allows you to do just that. Simply right click on any of the outputted suggestions to expand on that particular hashtag. More hashtags will then be outputted. These are related to the hashtag that came up in the initial search. This can be done infinitely to niche down further and further.

Finally the tool allows you to view and filter hashtags by the number of posts and average likes on the hashtag - this allow you to find hashtags that you can compete on and achieve results with. Remember it's paramount to niche down as much as possible - the broader the hashtag, the more likely you are to be drowned out by other people competing on that hashtag.

If you would like to get hashtags for your next Instagram post using Flick start your 7-day free trial be clicking here

5. 🥇 How to rank in the top posts on Instagram hashtags in 2019

To some it might seem like Instagram randomly chooses the content to display on the "top section" of a hashtag. Others might think it purely relies on the engagement posts get. The truth is that the ranking system is slightly more complex than that.

There are three main factors affecting it:

  • Engagement
  • Relevancy
  • Location

In the first few hours of posting, it is important your post receives high level of engagement - we call this, strong engagement velocity. This signals Instagram’s algorithm that your post is worth showing to more people. Therefore it is important to know what time your audience is active on Instagram. However, not any engagement will do.

This leads us to the next criteria, relevancy. It is important that the engagement you receive is from people who regularly interact with the hashtags you used or similar content. This tells Instagram that not only your content is good but it fits with that particular audience and niche.

Finally, Instagram will track the location of these engagements to determine if certain parts of the world prefer a certain post. This means that the top posts will be slightly different from one country to another.

Now you know how the ranking algorithm works, you must be wondering how do you actually rank in it.

In order to rank, you must choose the hashtags strategically. This means picking hashtags where you can compete with the amount of engagement the top posts get.

The formula to find them is simple. Out of the relevant hashtags you have found using the methods pointed out above, simply find the ones that have a similar amount of average likes on their top posts as your posts have. By doing this, assuming the hashtags you have chosen are relevant to your content, you can be certain that the engagement component of the ranking system is fulfilled, giving you a large chance of ranking.

Avoid the common mistake of just using popular or trending hashtags. Whilst using a few popular hashtags can be beneficial, it's important that you don't exclusively use these type of hashtags, otherwise you are likely to be drowned out by content.

There you have it, a complete guide to smashing your Instagram hashtag strategy in 2019. We hope you have found this article useful. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact the Flick team, our team is always happy to help.

Thank you and good luck!

P.S: Try out Flick today - Start your 7-day free trial

A comprehensive guide to Instagram Hashtags in 2019
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