Guest Post by: Sam Elsley 

Before you can start getting more followers on Instagram, you have to understand what hashtags people interested in your type of content are using. This is because of how the algorithm behind Instagram’s search results works.

When you search a hashtag on Instagram, you get a screen that looks like this:

These posts are the posts that Instagram has deemed to be the most popular for your hashtag at the time of searching.

Essentially, to come up as a Top Post for your hashtag, you need to:

  1. Get more engagement than other posts using the same hashtag
  2. Get that engagement quicker than other posts using the same hashtag

Before you worry about any of that, though, you have to know what hashtags to target. Hashtags are the main way that people on Instagram show their interests.

For example, people who are interested in fitness are likely going to be using fitness-related hashtags, people who are interested in shoes are likely to going to be using shoe-themed hashtags, and so on.

Therefore, you want to know what hashtags that people who would be interested in your page are using so that when people search these hashtags, they’ll see your posts, visit your page, and ultimately follow you.

In practice:

If you have a skateboarding Instagram page, for example, your going to want to know what hashtags that people interested in skateboarding are using.

As a trial run, here’s how you would find useful hashtags related to skateboarding:

  1. Search “Skateboarding” in the Instagram search bar
  2. Go to the “Tags” tab
  3. Scroll down the results and write down all hashtags with at least 50,000 posts
  4. (optional) Tap the more popular hashtags and scroll horizontally through the related hashtags

If you have a skateboarding Instagram page, these are the hashtags that you want to be targeting and attaching to your posts.

By ranking as a top post for any of these hashtags, you’re guaranteed to attract skateboarding-interested people to your page who are likely to give you a follow.

The formula:

No matter what kind of Instagram page you have, you can use the following steps to find out what hashtags you should be targeting:

  1. Think of three main keywords related to your Instagram page and search them on Instagram
  2. Go the “Tags” tab in the search results and write down all the major hashtags (more than 50,000 posts) that result from your search
  3. Explore each of these hashtags one-by-one and scroll horizontally across the related hashtags for more ideas

Or just watch the GIF below:

Now that you know what hashtags to target, read this guide to learn how exactly to get your posts using these hashtags to rank as Top Posts on Instagram.

Author bio:

Sam is Editor at – a blog aimed at simplifying social media marketing practices for small businesses and everyday people. He’s probably bouncing to some Kaytranada as you’re reading this. You can check out his latest article here.