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Instagram Hashtags – My Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts For Getting Quality Engagement & Attracting Followers

Let's talk Instagram Hashtags.. Sure they seem simple, but seriously, which ones am I supposed to use? Which ones will actually get me the most likes? Followers? Potential clients? Instagram expert Alex Tooby shares her top 10 do's and dont's for Instagram Hashtags and the might just blow your mind! Must read!

When it comes to Instagram, using hashtags, and more specifically, choosing the RIGHT hashtags can make a massive difference in the amount of engagement your photos receive and the amount of targeted users you get visiting your feed.

Why is it important to have targeted users visiting your feed and not just random ones? Well, those targeted people are the ones who are most likely to truly enjoy your content (not just one picture, but all of them!) and the chances of them following you, and potentially becoming a long term supporter are very high.

What more could you want?

Remember, targeted users or your “target market” are the people you think would be interested in your content / business / products / services, etc. To be successful on Instagram (and business in general) you need to always keep this person in mind and to be creating specifically for them..

So, with that being said, I want to share with you my Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to using Instagram Hashtags:



  1. Don’t use hashtags that are too popular. Generally speaking, any tag with over 1 million posts associated with it, is too big. When you add this tag to your photo, your image may appear in the tag for a split second, but is almost immediately buried by 100’s of other images that were added to the tag at the same time. This is a waste as it’s highly unlikely anyone will see your image within this tag. *If you have a large following and get substantial engagement very quickly, you may be able to use a tag of this size. For example, if you make it to top posts of a tag this size, then by all means, use them, but if you don’t these probably aren’t the tags for you. (My suggestion? Try tags between 5,000 – 500,000)
  2. Don’t use irrelevant hashtags. #love and #happy may describe the feelings your image gives you, however if your entire feed isn’t about or promoting love and happiness, these tags become irrelevant and can attract the wrong audience. See Do #1 for an alternative.
  1. Don’t choose hashtags based on a single photo or use new hashtags for every photo. This is a haphazard strategy that could bring you likes one day, but not the next day. Consistency is key and choosing hashtags on a whim may hinder your success. See Do #3 for suggestions.
  1. Don’t copy your competitors hashtags exactly. Sure, checking out what your competitors are using is a way to get a head start on your Hashtag research but don’t trust them as the expert. Set yourself apart, be unique, select tags for YOUR business and YOUR audience.
  1. Don’t use hashtags that contain jargon or industry keywords. This is a surefire way to attract your competitors and not your target market! Think about each and every hashtag you use.. Would your target market search for this? If not, don’t use it. For example, if I was looking for a graphic designer I might search #logodesign, not #adobeillustrator.



  1. Do use hashtags that are descriptive of the content you share on a regular basis. This is a big one. When you use hashtags that describe your content, you avoid misleading your visitors. If they click the hashtag #instagramtips and end up on my feed, they’re going to be happy to have found exactly what they were looking for (and probably give me a follow!)
  2. Do use 30 hashtags. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags on your posts and I recommend using ALL of them. Each hashtag exposes your account to a variety of potential followers (and clients!). The more exposure you get, the better, right? Don’t limit yourself by using too few tags. (And don’t listen to the haters who say using 30 tags is desperate! Let them struggle to gain traction on IG while you take off!)
  1. Do create a “set” of hashtags that will work for every picture in your feed. By selecting a combination of tags that describes the content you regularly share, and tags you believe your target market is looking for, you’ll easily attract the right audience to your feed, each and every time you post. Save these as a note in your phone so you can easily copy and paste onto your posts. *If you find this is difficult, you may want to reign in the focus of your account. An account that is too broad is not destined for success on Instagram.
  1. Do conduct hashtag research. Using the search bar in Instagram, look for keywords that describe your account. From there you will be given a list of potential hashtags. Check out their post count, the images shared within it and ask yourself if it compliments your content. Also, be sure to consider if your target market would search for that specific tag. If so, add it to your set!
  1. Do change your tags every few weeks to month. If you find your set of hashtags is no longer giving you good engagement, or you’ve hit a plateau, consider switching up your set. Start by changing 10 to see if that makes a difference. A good way to tell which hashtags are working for you is to check which ones you’re making “top posts” for. These will give you elongated exposure so keep those. Swap out the others until you’re making top posts for all 30!



Well that’s it, my Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Using Instagram Hashtags! If you implement these, I’m certain you will see a rise in not only in your engagement but your followers as well, as you attract the right people to your feed who actually care about and enjoy the content you share on a regular basis!

If you want to learn more about Instagram hashtags, or need help with the actual research process, please check out my course: Hashtag Hero. Inside I walk you step by step through my personal research strategy, my special 15-10-5 combination of tags that get’s me the best exposure, and other tips and tricks on how to choose the right hashtags for YOUR unique business!

We are all on a different path, we all have a different target market, and different goals. With these things in mind I can’t just offer you a list of hashtags for your niche and call it a day. Instead, I can teach you how to use my tried and true methods to find the hashtags that are going to work the best, specifically for you.


Click here to learn more about Hashtag Hero.

How did you score? Are you implementing these do’s and don’ts?

Let me know in the comments!

> Keep on reading..

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216 Comments on "10 Instagram Hashtag Do’s and Don’ts"

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nicola baird

Alex, you don’t just have great advice, you are brilliant at getting me to read it. Thank you for these extra insta tips. Good luck with your 2017 blog resolutions (and meeting friends) from nicola @islingtonfaces


Amazing article! Thanks being so generous with your knowledge. I personally struggle with finding 30 hashtags that are relevant. Would you suggest expanding some such as, #ilovemykids and #ilovemykidssomuch which are also the 2 top tags.

Looking forward to your blog next month.


I’m new to Instagram, so this is great for me to know. Thanks


Great advice Alex. Some of it I worked out just by using Instagram for years, other is obvious now you come to mention it! Thank you for being so helpful.

Esmaeel Akther

Thank you so much for this Alex. Irealised that I have been making the mistake of not using 30 hashtags on my IG. I always thought it came of as being desperate. Have to try using all next time.


Great advice on reviewing the hashtags regularly, with the view of getting all of them into the Top9. Thankyou, Alex, you now have a single page that will be very useful.

Patti Pestana

These are great tips Alex, thanks! I’m committed to getting Hashtag Hero this coming Friday!


Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Will be giving your tips a go as I seem to have plateaued low!


Agree about doing a hashtag audit at least once a month to see if any changes need to be made, adding new ones, deleting the ones that are not working as well or have become too popular. A good reminder Alex!

Sylvia Hall

These are great tips. I didn’t know about half of them! Thanks for sharing!


such great tips. I always use 30 hashtags, but I have heard many times you should use only 11, because then it is more targeted. Thank you for these great tips :d

Sandy KS

I need to learn how to copy and paste from my phone. As I type the hashtags in every time one by one.
I do have a question about hashtags, if one forgets to add hashtags, will adding hashtags as a comment work just as well? Or should one delete the photo and start over?

Nicole DaRosa

great info! I will definitely be returning to this


Helpful post as I try to navigate Insta for my personal brand


Wow..This is a really helpful post…Going to share and save it! Thank you!


This is exactly what I needed to read right now! Such great to-the-point advice, no fluff. I’m guilty of using totally different hashtags with every post and I definitely don’t use the full 30…will be changing that now! Thanks! 🙂


Wow, this is great. I’ve been wondering for a while if I have been using the right hashtags. Am definitely going to have a better think about them from now on, thanks!

Heather @ The Spicy Apron

Great advice! I always get buried in the hashtag game!


I never quite understood why people do not use all 30 hashtags! Great post! 🙂


This was very helpful! I just started a blog and I’m new to promoting on social media, and this offered me a lot of useful tips.

Bruce Schinkel

Really good tips here Alex! I’ve seen so many people making those “don’t” mistakes … and i think we all did some when we started, right? 🙂


These are wicked tips! I’m trying to grow my Instagram following so these are perfect!


Thank you! I think I was doing some of these, but definitely doing some “don’ts” as well. So I’m excited to see how my engagement changes!


I was doing it ALL wrong!! This is super helpful! I can’t wait to up my Insta Game!


This was super helpful! Thank you for sharing!


So helpful! Thank you!

Rachel Lavern

This is an enlightening post Alex. I am just learning Instagram and I have been violating your first three “don’ts”. Thank you!

Anna Szoke

Such an useful post! I’m not so great with Instagram, and fell into the trap of using too popular hashtags like “love” “beauty” etc. Now I know what went wrong. Thanks for sharing


Love these tips! I’ve bookmarked this so I can come back and refer back to it when I need to!

Brent Kay

Great tips! I’ll definitely be implementing into my strategy.


Awesome advice Alex! (and I love the format of this post)

Tara Bradford

Thanks for sharing! This is so helpful!


Super helpful and insightful post! Definitely think these are the best steps for quality engagement! #societygal

Anna Laura Sommer

This is SO helpful! I have definitely been changing my hashtags with each post, which is super time-consuming, and as I just read, not helping me like I thought! Thank you so much for this!!


Great tips! I need to stop doing number 1!


Awesome advice, thanks so much for sharing. I’m fairly new to instagram so having these tips right from the beginning could be a huge plus!

Robyn Proctor

I definitely use hashtags that are too popular, need to remember this!

Stacey Herrera

This was super helpful! Thank you so much for sharing… I am off to create my tag lis!


What a great post! I started using hashtags on Instagram a few months ago and have more ham tripled my audience. Thanks for the great advice!!

Alissa Carpenter

Alex, I love this post and your email lessons! They are so helpful and easy to understand. You’re an instagram rock star!

Melynda Sorrels

This is really helpful information. I’m going to save this as a resource. Thank you!


Hi Alex! This information is so great to know! I kinda jumped in without having a plan, this helps so much!


I don’t think I will ever get hashtags but I’m learning

Neha kumari

This is so good. Nicely written and very much understable. Thanks for sharing.


Do #1 just blew my mind. It finally made all this hashtag biz just CLICK. Thank you!


These are good tips! I need to change my hashtags more often I think, I’ve been using the same ones for so long!


Great advice about not using hashtags with over a million posts. I would have thought those would be the ones to go for but your point makes complete sense.

I will start implementing some of these techniques and she how it goes. Thanks!



Rhonda Swan

These are great points here. Love the tutorial on hashtags. Keep up the great work and live unstoppable!

Brit Strawbridge

Great post!! I’ve read a lot of ‘hashtag’ posts & this has some great new things to think about! Thanks for sharing!!