Hashtag strategy

Hashtags are used as search words on Instagram. It is the most important tool for you to advertise in your chosen market.     Hashtags are now integrated with Instagram stories.  Your audience can now search your stories by your hashtag.      Planning and selecting the right hashtags will maximize your reach in your niche, and in turn increase engagement.

Selecting hashtags by Density

The objective in selecting hashtags is for your image to stay on the first few rows as long as possible.  You may also choose a hashtag that will maximize your chance to be featured as a Top9 or Trending post.     To be featured in Top9, you will be competing with users based on the performance of your post.

In both cases, density of a hashtag is a major factor.

It is important to select hashtags that are compatible with the current size of your account.  For example, a very high density hashtag (eg #MarketOnFriday with 1M) would not be an effective hashtag if your follower count is in the hundreds.

Similarly, a low density hashtag (eg #BostonVintageFashion with 1K) may be too limiting for your account with 100K followers.

A rule of thumb

As a rule of thumb, hashtags that works best are those with density 5 to 10 times the size of your followers count.  As an example, hashtags with density 120K would be a good match to Instagram accounts with 20K followers. Hashtags with 1 million density would be appropriate for accounts with 150K followers.

Types of hashtags

1. niche tags (lower density, higher search results for longer period of time)

2.  popular industry tags (higher density to maximize exposure)

3.  branded hashtags (such as your product, your competitors and their products)

4.  location based hashtags (related to your city)

5.  event based hashtags (eg festival in your city or trending events or product promotion)


Structuring your hashtag lists

The hashtags for a photo may be a balanced mix of these five types of hashtags.    We would recommend the following ratio between the different types of hashtags.   This is to optimize the ability for your image to be found, and remain relevant to the industry.

  • niche hashtags             [40%-  60%]
  • popular hashtags         [5% – 10%]
  • branded hashtags        [10% – 15%]
  • location hashtags         [10% – 15%]  OR
  • event based hashtags  [5% – 10%]

Applying your strategy

smaudience hashtag tool automates the research process. You can browse through hashtags from accounts in your niche –  review, select and save these hashtags into your lists.  Here are the steps


  1. www.smaudience.com/hashtag-find
  2. Select an account from the list of your followers OR enter the name of a competitor or a blogger
  3. Click the [TagSearch] tab
  4. This lists the most recent hashtags used
  5. Sort this list by density and frequency of use
  6. Click any hashtag to investigate the current Top9 posts
  7. Review and select hashtags that is relevant for you
  8. Tick to select a hashtag
  9. Click the green [hashtag] to copy/paste into your hashtag list


Most people use the same set of hashtag for all their images.  To get more out of your hashtags, you could create a master list of hashtags, group them into the five categories.

Mix and match hashtags from different categories to create topic specific lists. Monitor your hashtag performance when you publish.


How to track the performance of your hashtags.