How to Search Instagram Hashtags to Build a Community

You rarely see a post without its dedicated Instagram hashtags these days. While your parents still may not quite understand them, any influencer at the beginning of their journey should absolutely be paying attention to Instagram hashtags.

There is, after all, a reason that hashtags are still being used today. They have a purpose!

Using Instagram hashtags is an important step to categorizing your content and building a community in the early days of your influencer journey. 

If the proper way to use Instagram hashtags has you stumped, keep reading for a guide to using hashtags to build a unique community!

Instagram Hashtags Actually Do Have a Purpose

Instagram hashtags, contrary to popular belief, still serve their original purpose. Hashtags are a way to categorize your posts and get them seen in Instagram searches.

Beyond that, using hashtags help people find content and new, interesting accounts to follow. If an Instagram user is looking to change up their feed, you can bet the first thing they’ll do is use the Instagram hashtag search function.

Instagram hashtag search function showing the word "#hashtag"

Instagram hashtags are also a way to find people in a like-minded community. If people cross-post into hashtags you regularly monitor, you’re much more likely to stumble across people that you share similarities with.

What’s Your Niche?

Before you focus on building your influencer community, decide which aspects of your account you want to focus on. That will help you decide which Instagram hashtags to use!

At the beginning, try and focus on two or three specific things that will make you stand out. A generic beauty account is less interesting than a beauty account that focuses specifically on creating looks for women of color from natural cosmetics.

You don’t have to get that incredibly specific, but focus on what sets you apart from the crowd! Using specific niches will help attract people to your account and give you room to expand on content later.

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Choose Your Instagram Hashtags First

Once you have your specifics, the job of choosing which Instagram hashtags to use on your posts is upon you.

You can always change your hashtags up later, but for the best immediate engagement, focus on the things directly different about your account. We actually recommend choosing your hashtags before you make your first post.

Beauty Instagram hashtags

There are going to be at least one or two hashtags that always apply to your posts without question just by nature of having an influencer Instagram account. Make a habit of using those, and use the other hashtags to talk about the post of the day.

But how do you select your Instagram hashtags?

Model Your Instagram Hashtags After Other People

The great thing about Instagram hashtags is that they’re an archive of Instagram success stories. Pick a hashtag in the account niche you’re in – let’s say, for example, fitness – and go into that hashtag. Look at the people who have gathered the most likes and engagement. Take a look at the hashtags they’ve used. 

Consider this post from @katicardenalli – the top post in the #fitness hasthag at the time of this article.

katicardenalli Instagram profile

Notice that her hashtags start out generic and work their way into specificity. #Wcw is a common hashtag, especially for models. But #barstoolsmokeshows is a little more off the radar! She’s also hashtagged all the details that apply to the photo like #setlife and #januaryincalifornia.

You can also look at an influencer’s account that you admire. If they’ve grown within the last four to five years, go all the way back to their early posts. That is, if they haven’t deleted them! Take a look at the hashtags and strategies they used to grow their communities.

There’s a reason people use hashtags – they work!

Using Instagram Hashtags to Cross-Reference Your Posts

Specificity is good, but being specific in two different ways is best. Your posts most likely are going to be relevant to more than one thing. So it’s perfectly fine for you to hashtag them in two different areas.

Let’s say you’re a brand-new fashion account. Your follower count is lower than thirty. You want to show up in the Instagram hashtag search. What do you hashtag?

Well, if your focus is on street style, use the #streetstyle hashtag along with #ootd and #fashion. If you’re drawing a particular influence from a celebrity, for example #kyliejenner, use their name as a hashtag in your caption.

Look at architect Alisa’s post:

Alisa's Instagram page

Alisa’s Instagram focuses on outfits of the day, but she also hashtags the presets that she uses and targets her home country with the hashtag “austrianblogger.”

Cross-referencing your Instagram hashtags will help you attract followers from areas you might not usually be featured in!

Should You Use Follow for Follow and Like for Like?

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. It’s no secret that Instagram hashtags can also be a way to get easy followers. #follow4follow and #like4like are two ways to attract people and likes to your account.

But whether or not you want to use those depends on the type of followers you want to attract. There’s no guarantee that a follower gained from #follow4follow is going to keep following you. In fact, they’ll probably unfollow you within the next few days.

image showing hashtags

The same goes for #like4like. Even though people may engage with your content that one time, they probably won’t be consistently returning to your account and increasing your engagement.

That might all be okay with you. If so, go for it! But remember that building a community takes time and effort just like anything else. And if you want to have a devoted one, it’s worth putting in the time.

Using the Instagram Hashtag Search to Keep Up With the Times

Before you make your first post, dive into the hashtags you intend on using. Look at well-performing posts from the past few months. Instagram hashtags are constantly evolving, so you want to keep up with them!

There are some Instagram hashtags that never go out of style – but others get compressed or invented every day. Make sure you’re up to date with the new ones!

You also want to be sure you’re spelling your hashtag right. There’s nothing worse than missing out on valuable engagement because you didn’t use the correct lettering in your Instagram hashtag.

Instagram hashtags change as much as anything else. Keeping up to date with them means you’re keeping up with your industry!

Using the Instagram Hashtag Search to Boost Engagement

Don’t forget that being part of a community also requires being a participant in it. The first twenty minutes or so after you post a photo are crucial for your engagement statistics. You can use the Instagram hashtag search to help give your post a boost during that time!

After you post a photo, go into your target hashtags and take a look at the recently posted photos there. The people who posted those photos are online and looking to boost their own engagement. Drop them a like and they’ll most likely check out your photos.

This is a helpful strategy to increase your engagement, but it can also help you discover other members of your community!

Turn It Over To the Experts

Instagram hashtags may have a reputation of being tacky. But they’re actually an incredibly useful tool for budding influencers.

Understanding how to use Instagram hashtags to build your community can unlock tons of valuable engagement and productivity.

If you’ve read this whole article and you still don’t understand how to use Instagram hashtags, let the experts handle it for you. Upleap is a dedicated Instagram manager that perfectly understands how to use the Instagram hashtag search to build your community. Try it for free today!


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By Victoria Hendersen

Victoria is an American expatriate currently based in St. Petersburg, Russia. Originally from Santa Cruz, California, she lived in Bordeaux, France before relocation to Russia's cultural capital. Victoria holds a BFA in Film and Media Studies from UC Irvine.

She works as a copywriter and translator. An experienced travel blogger and vlogger, her main drive in life is discovering the jewels of lesser traveled cities. You can keep up with her travels on Instagram at @village_witch.

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