Instagram Hashtag Research: A Beginners Guide » Dolo Digital Blog

Instagram Hashtag Research: A Beginners Guide

Hashtags. We see them all the time, we use them everyday, but do we know just how powerful of a tool they can be? If you can master the science of hashtags and hashtag research, then you’re well on your way to seeing your Instagram grow more than you ever thought possible.

Why Hashtag Research is Important


At Dolo, we believe that mastering keywords is the secret to mastering the internet. Keyword research is a vital part of search engine optimization, market research, copywriting and other marketing strategies. Hashtags are the keywords to social media, and a great way to begin learning how keywords can be used to find success within search algorithms.

Let’s start from the beginning. According to Sprout Social, a hashtag is “A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. Whenever a user adds a hashtag to their post, it’s able to be indexed by the social network and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users.” In short, a hashtag will make your post viewable to a wider audience than your work friends, distant cousins, and your dad who insists on liking and commenting on every post.

Now that we know what a hashtag is, how do we use them to help boost our Instagram posts? Let’s break it into steps:



1) Find Your Audience/Niche


  • Are you an influencer, a chef, or do you have a digital agency (like us!)? That’s going to inform the types of hashtags you should be looking for. For us, hashtags like #digitalagency #graphicdesign #digitaldesign fit us.
  • Our advice is to search keywords relative to your niche/audience and go from there.



2) Research Relevant Hashtags


  • Once you’ve found a handful of key hashtags, you’ll need to find other ones that match your audience/niche (Instagram lets you have 30 hashtags per post).
  • When you research hashtags on Instagram, a horizontal list of relevant hashtags will be below, look through them to see if they fit your brand/voice. If they do, add them to the list! Check out the pic below to see an example.


screenshot of instagram hashtag research


3) Sort Into Groups According to Hashtag Popularity


  • Hashtag popularity is determined by how many posts on Instagram are using that hashtag. For instance, if you search #digitalmarketing you’ll see that there are roughly 7.5m posts on Instagram using that hashtags, which makes it a popular hashtag.
  • Because some hashtags have millions of posts you’ll want to also include hashtags that have much fewer, that way you have a higher chance of trending for that hashtag. Categorize them by these frequencies:
    • High > 500k
    • Medium 100k-500k
    • Low < 100k
  • Use a combination of these three groups to compile several groups of hashtags. You’ll want to rotate these groups every post because unfortunately, if you use the same hashtags on every post, Instagram might suspect that you’re being spammy, which could affect your page’s success with Instagram’s algorithm. The more groups of hashtags you can come up with the better. We recommend between 7-10. Match these groups of hashtags with your different content types.

Now that you know how to research Instagram hashtags, you can find the best ones for your brand or business. This crucial skill will help be you well on your way to getting the attention your account deserves. The world of hashtags can be daunting but we hope that with these steps you’ll be able to use them to your advantage.

Happy Hashtagging!

Kelsey Jones

Kelsey Jones

Senior Producer

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