Hashtags play a huge role in Instagram marketing and dominating the right ones can be your invitation into the world of exponential growth.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again; think of #s as Search Results in Google. If you can get into the “Top Posts” section, a whole lot of people are going to see your content and hopefully follow you.

Just like SEO Key Words, more people searching for a specific # means more people who will see your post (If you manage to make it into the “Top Posts” section) but, at the same time, it also means more people will be attempting to rank for that #. It’s all about finding the perfect balance between popularity and difficulty.

If you’ve read some of my other threads, you’ve probably seen me mention iqta.gs. This nifty little website allows you to put a hashtag in, and it then displays a massive list of #’s that were commonly used in the same comment.

Like I mentioned earlier on, it’s important that you post to tags that will be worthwhile to rank on, but also make sure that they are small enough so that you can rank for them. I would recommend picking 5-10 from the list that iqta.gs gives you and then searching them up. The first indication as to how active a # will be is the number of posts. For example, if one has 10,000,000 posts, and the other has only 4,000, it would be safe to assume that the former is far, far more popular.

After making sure that the hashtag is active and has regular posters, you then want to pay attention to the photos that make it into the featured section. While it’s not entirely true that more likes = a greater chance of getting into this featured section, it is a good indication. After whittling out the inactive hashtag from your list, go through them one-bye-one and make sure that they match your account’s level. If you average 2,000 likes per post, going for a tag where the top posts get 200,000 likes probably isn’t the best use of your time.

Hopefully, you will now be left with a small list of hashtags that are active, and within your account’s size. When I first started out working with Instagram, I thought it would be a great idea to post my pictures to as many hashtags as I could, which I soon found out was a very ineffective way to go about it. I’m not going to go into great depths about it here – as it’s talked about a lot in my other articles – but sticking to a small, well-selected group of tags for every picture is incredibly important, as it tells Instagram specifically what to rank you for.

“But I have a list of fifty amazing #s! How can I use them all?”

While it’s not a great idea to use lots of tags in one comment, it’s perfectly acceptable to mix things up between pictures. If you are using the reposting tool in MassPlanner then you should definitely make use of the “Dynamic Hashtag” option. This hidden little option allows you to have a big list of hashtags, which MassPlanner randomly picks from and includes in your picture

“Ok, I’ve posted the picture, now what?”

The easy part is over. This is where the hard work starts! If you are attempting to get featured on really small hashtags, then this will probably happen naturally just by your followers commenting and liking your content, but the same can’t be said for bigger tags.

Immediately after posting the picture I switch over to any other large accounts that I have in the niche (Using different IP’s of course) and leave a like as well as a thoughtful, engaging comment. This not only appears on my other account’s follower’s feeds, but it also encourages my followers to leave a comment and start a conversation.

This is the exact same concept as engagement groups that you see advertised on BHW all the time, only you are using your own accounts. While large engagement groups do work very well, I find being able to control every single detail very useful, and it’s proved effective with my like rates.

How to tell if you are ranked:

The easiest way to tell if your post has made it onto the featured image section is to view the # from an incognito/private browser.

This will not only tell you how well your image is doing, but you will also be able to see if your account has been “Ghosted”. Ghosting is where Instagram flags your account for spam and stops displaying your pictures on hashtag view, which is why it is INCREDIBLY important that you only use a few #s at a time.

Ghosting is literally the worst thing that can happen to your account, but if you stick to the things I have mentioned above then there’s nothing to worry about.

When should I move up to better hashtags?

If your pictures are making it into the “featured post” section purely from your current audience’s likes and comments, then it’s time to take a look at the list we made earlier on and attempt to get featured on some of the bigger #’s. When it comes to hashtags in general, there is a lot of trial and error involved, as things vary massively from account to account. Just like Google and SEO, it’s impossible to predict Instagram’s algorithm, which is why doing a lot of testing is important.

If your posts aren’t getting featured in the hashtags you have selected, even after using engagement groups to get a nice boost, then that’s a clear indication that you’re punching above your weight and going for hashtags that are out of your league.