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The Ultimate Guide To Using Instagram Hashtags To Boost Your Engagement | Blogging Tips

January 30, 2019

The Ultimate Guide To Using Instagram Hashtags To Boost Your Engagement | Blogging Tips

January 30, 2019

Having shared my Instagram Hashtag tips with a lot of people and getting feedback that the results are incredible, I thought I’d put together all of the advice I can into one handy blog post. It will cover the absolute basics of Instagram hashtags, when you should be using them and how to strategically use them to boost the engagement on your account. Although it will take a lot of hard work, the results will definitely be worth it.

Getting engagement on your Instagram photos can seem like an absolute nightmare when they’re constantly changing their algorithms and whilst I’m a firm believer the algorithm isn’t out to get you, I do believe there are lots of things to ensure that you’re using it to your advantage. One of those things is Instagram hashtags. 

Side note: I am not an Instagram expert, however a lot of people have requested this post based on my own personal results of growing from less than 100 impressions to as many as 10k per post. Having created a group of people to test my theories, I can say that most of them also experienced similar results to me. 

What Are Instagram Hashtags?

I thought I’d start off with the absolute basics here and say that Instagram hashtags are basically a way of labelling your content. By including a # symbol followed by a particular word or phrase, you’re labelling your photo and telling people that it belongs under that particular category. They’re clickable, searchable and an incredible source for traffic to your posts and profile.

How Do They Work?

Once you put a hashtag (#) in front of a word they will become clickable. This means that you’ll be able to see posts from everyone who has used the hashtag you’re viewing. So, if you were to hashtag a photo of your lunch with #WhatIAteToday, everyone else who views or follows that hashtag will have a chance of seeing your post – ultimately increasing the engagement on your post. 

Where Can You Use Them?

Hashtags can be used on photos, in photo comments, in your profile bio and on your Instagram Stories.

Why Should You Be Using Them? 

There are lots of different reasons you should be making sure you’re using hashtags on your images, no matter what you’re posting.

These reasons include:

  • Using hashtags gives you a chance to be seen by lots more people. Depending on your Instagram goals, this will probably be an incredibly important part of growing your account.
  • Using certain hashtags may give you a chance to be reposted by a larger account, again helping to grow your profile.
  • If people enjoy your content when they see it on a hashtag they’re browsing, they’re likely to engage.
  • Often people will click through to your profile and if they like your account, they’ll follow you.
  • For bloggers, it often gives PRs and Brands a chance to discover your account.

Where Should You Be Putting Them?

This is a question I often get asked but honestly, I don’t think it matters. Instagram doesn’t take notice as to whether or not your hashtags are in the comments or in your caption, so you can do whichever you prefer. 

Personally, I like to do five or six of those most relevant hashtags at the end of the caption, and then put the rest in the comments.

How Do You Find New Hashtags To Use?

This is another thing I regularly get asked when talking about Instagram hashtags, as a lot of people are not sure how to find new ones to use on their posts. For me, there are several different places I look.

  • On other people’s posts – If you know of other accounts that post similar images to you, looking at the hashtags they use is a great way to discover new ones to use. I tend to spend 10-15 minutes a week searching for new hashtags using this method, adding them to a master hashtag document I have created.
  • By searching keywords on Instagram – When I am writing my hashtags into an Instagram comment I write a keyword based on my image, then scroll down to see which hashtags I want to use. I’ll talk more about which ones to pick later.
  • By looking for accounts that repost photos – Every so often I’ll include a few repost hashtags on a photo that I think has a chance of being picked up by a repost account. This is a great way to get more views as lots of people search these hashtags for inspiration and ideas. If your photo gets reposted, even better!
  • By looking at lists of hashtags – There are quite a few free resources out there for hashtags in your niche, however, I tend to use these with caution as it’s easy to get caught up in copying and pasting from a list every time you post a caption.

Side note: If you want to follow me on Instagram, you can find my very colourful account here!

The Ultimate Guide To Using Instagram Hashtags To Boost Your Engagement

Use The Full 30 Hashtags On Each Instagram Post

There’s lots of conflicting advice out there about how many hashtags to use on each post but in all honesty, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to use ALL 30 of them. Having an allowance of 30 hashtags on each post means that it’s 30 chances for your photos be been seen by others on a hashtag, and 30 chances for you to gain more engagement and followers. Use them ALL. 

Don’t Just Copy And Paste, Mix Them Up Every Time

This is a really important point, and probably something most of us have got into a habit of doing.

Before I started changing the way I used Instagram Hashtags, I was copying and pasting hashtags from a notes file on my iPhone. Whilst it was a quick and easy way add hashtags to a post, it meant I wasn’t really thinking about the content I was posting.

I have found that mixing up the hashtags you use on every photo you post is a great way to get your content to appear on relevant hashtags each and every time you post. I also think that Instagram may be starting to notice when you’re using the same hashtags on each post and prefers you to use different dedicated and targeted hashtags every time.

The best way to mix up your hashtags is to type them every single time you post. Yes, it’s time-consuming, but it’s the best way to avoid the ‘copy and paste syndrome’. I aim to have at least 10-15 hashtags I haven’t used (for at least a month) on each post, which is easy when you use your hashtags wisely.

Use Your Hashtags Wisely

Match Hashtags To Your Photo

Now that you’re using 30 hashtags per post and mixing them up every time, it’s time to start thinking about how you can use your hashtags wisely. The first thing I would recommend is to match the hashtags you’re using to the photo you’ve posted. There’s absolutely no point in posting a photo of you on a warm beach and using a hashtag that focusses on rainy weather, even if that’s something you’ve talked about in your caption.

When people scroll through hashtags they only see your photo among many others, so the likelihood is they’re only going to interact with hashtags that align with what they’re searching for.

Use 10-15 Targeted Instagram Hashtags On Each Post

Targeted hashtags are hashtags that focus on something specific in your photo, and they’re probably one of the best ways to gain engagement on a post. When thinking of targeted hashtags for each post, I try to run through the following questions:

  • Where was the photo taken?
  • What clothes am I wearing?
  • What brands am I wearing?
  • What colours feature in the photo?
  • What time of year was it?
  • What was the weather like?
  • What can you see?

There are SO MANY questions you can ask yourself to help create some targeted hashtags and I find that the deeper I delve into a photo, the better it does.

Use AT LEAST 10 Hashtags With Under 20k Pictures On Them

When it comes to finding hashtags to use the ones that are more likely to gain you engagement and followers are the ones that have less than 20,000 photos already on them. If hashtags are too saturated it means that within seconds your photo has already been overtaken by 100 others that have also been posted to the tag. The less saturated a hashtag is, the better it is likely to do, especially if it’s a hashtag people regularly search for inspiration (think fashion, travel and creative hashtags).

If you’re unsure how to find out how many posts a hashtag has, they should show as you type them into your comments or captions (as shown in the picture above). You can also see the difference in hashtags when you search #travelblog and #travelblogging.

Remember, not every hashtag has to have under 20k photos on it, but the more the better (in my personal opinion). I know sometimes It can’t be avoided when using specific hashtags for locations – #visitlondon, #londontimeout etc – and when using repost accounts.

Research Which Hashtags You May Have A Chance At Appearing In The Top 9 For

When you click on a hashtag you’ll usually be presented with a screen that gives you two options – Top and Recent. These will show either the top performing posts or the most recent posts for that hashtag, depending on which one you’re looking at. 

There is a great way to use this to your advantage when posting to hashtags with fewer photos on, as you can work out whether or not you have a chance to appear in the top 9 photos for that hashtag.

The trick is to look at the existing top 9 photos and see what numbers the likes range from. If your average likes fit within that range, you have a much higher chance of appearing in the top 9 photos. Targetting these hashtags is a great way to get your account seen, but definitely shouldn’t be your top priority when choosing which hashtags you use. 

Interact With The Hashtags You Post In The First Half An Hour Of Posting

I have always found that when I interact with photos on the hashtags I’ve used in the first half an hour after posting, it’s helped to boost my engagement. I honestly don’t know why, but I did a lot of A/B testing to help prove this and it works! It’s like I always say – when it comes to Instagram you get back exactly what you give. 

Track Your Hashtags On Insights 

Whilst you can’t view insights for individual hashtags yet, you can find out how many of your impressions come from hashtags. Keeping an eye on this for each photo will allow you to find out what works best for you.

It has taken me a lot of time to find a hashtag strategy that works well for my account and the chances are, it won’t be exactly the same for you. Use the tips I’ve mentioned to play around and find out what suits your profile best. I can’t stress enough that it took me around 6-8 weeks to see the results I was seeing and that you need to take that into consideration when tracking your stats. 

Let me know if you test out any of my Instagram hashtag advice, I’d absolutely love to hear what works for you and whether or not my tips have helped you boost your engagement. 


  • Jess January 30, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Such great tips! I want to really up my Instagram game this year so will be trying some of these out!

    The Crown Wings | UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog

  • Lauren January 30, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Great post and fab tips! I’m definitely going to be making much more of an effort to vary the hashtags I use as I’d also fallen into copying and pasting, I’ve trying to use a few different ones recently but I think I need to step my game up!

    Lauren x

  • Laura Lovette January 31, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I have fallen into the trap of copying and pasting, but my posts get seen by no one. So maybe I’ll try mixing it up again ?


  • TravelBeyondSize January 31, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Awesome post!!!

    • Kirsty Leanne February 3, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you lovely! 🙂 xx

  • Rachael January 31, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you for this post, it has been really useful. I’m trying to grow my Instagram and this will definitely help

    • Kirsty Leanne February 3, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you! I hope the tips work for you 🙂 xx

  • Boxnip February 1, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    This is such a great post. I was already doing some of what you suggested as it just made good sense to me but I shall be trying the other suggestions too from now on. 🙂

    Sarah ? || Boxnip

    • Kirsty Leanne February 3, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you! I hope the tips work for you! xx

  • Philippa February 2, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you for such an insightful post! I have a design account that I’m trying to grow so I’m going to experiment with your list on there, will let you know the results!

    http://www.cocoskies.com | Design, travel & Freelancing blog

    • Kirsty Leanne February 3, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      I hope it works for you! 🙂 xx

  • Hayley February 3, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    So glad you wrote this post. I’ve just recently got back into using Instagram, but just don’t have the interaction I’d like. So this will be a great help. I can’t wait to start implementing your suggestions. I gave up on using so many hashtags because it just wasn’t getting me anywhere but I do fall into the hole of using the same hashtags all the time.

    • Kirsty Leanne February 3, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you found it useful and hope the tips work for you! 🙂

  • Angharad Paull February 10, 2019 at 7:05 am

    This is such a helpful post, thank you Kirsty! I had NO idea that all these things affected an Instagram post so I’m going to follow your advice and try and be much more targeted. Thanks so much for sharing these!


    My mission is simple. I want to help change the way travel looks, showing both brands and society that plus size people really do travel too. In a community where plus size travellers are made to feel unwelcome, I want to inspire and advise people like me on how they can make the most out of their own incredible travel experiences.Join me as I share my own personal experiences, my best tips and tricks and all of the challenges I face along the way. It won’t always be an easy ride, but it sure as hell will be a fun one.

    Together, we can change the way that travel looks today



    • Just some of the things people (including me) can feel anxious about as a plus size traveller. It can be hard, but thankfully there’s a great community of people here on Instagram who can help ❤️✈️🌎 #plussizetravel #plussizetraveltoo #plussize #travel #fatgirlstraveling #fatgirlstravelling #fatgirlstraveltoo #curvygirltravels #travel #travelblogger #travelblogger #anxiety #anxieties #travelanxiety #overwhelmed #takeuspace #takingupspace #community #travelcommunity #reels #instagramreels #reelsinstagram
    • AD  For a long time, I was scared to admit that I was on my self-love journey as I felt like it meant that I had to constantly be positive about how I feel about my body. I knew that the way in which I felt about myself was definitely changing in a positive way, but I didn’t want to open up and say that I was on this journey because I was so scared that I couldn’t be the positive role-model that people needed 🥺

It took some time, but I finally realised that self-love means something completely different to each and every person that has started the incredible journey of learning to love their body more. For some, self-love is wearing a bikini in public for the first time ever. For others, it’s saying no to something you really don’t want to do and taking time to focus on YOU instead 👙

To believe that self-love was a linear concept held me back from so much so when @welovedates asked me to share what it means to me, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to show you that there’s so much more to self-love than building your confidence in yourself ❤️👏🏻

I’ve shared five ways in which my life has changed as a result of my self love journey over on my blog so if you fancy reading, head over to the link in my bio 👩🏼‍💻✍🏻

If you’re on your self love journey, how has your life changed? 👇🏻❤️ #welovereal
    • In another world, today would have been the first day of the Plus Size Travel Too x Bali trip ✈️🌎
For those of you that are new here, this time last year I announced my first international group trip created with plus size travellers in mind. For obvious reasons, however, I had to cancel it earlier this year. It felt as though it was my biggest career achievement to date and honestly, I am gutted that it hasn’t been able to go ahead as planned 🥺😢

Being passionate about an industry that is now so uncertain isn’t easy right now, but I’m (mostly) hopeful that things will rebuild and I promise they when it’s safe, I’m going to do all that I can to make Plus Size Travel Too trips a reality again ❤️👏🏻 #plussizetraveltoo
    • ad pr • them: “gross, she probably can’t even touch her toes 🤮”

Me: “......hold my drink 😏👏🏻”

Just your friendly reminder that you shouldn’t assume someone can’t do something just because they’re bigger than you AND if for any reason they can’t do the same things as you, they’re not any less worthy of your respect ✌🏻
    • ad pr • a cat print dress certainly makes for the purrrfect Halloween outfit 🕸🕷

When it comes to shooting new content I’ve been feeling really uninspired lately and honestly, I think it’s because I usually find my inspiration in travel and discovering new places ❤️✈️

Summer has been and gone and I think I must have only taken a handful of photos. I felt like I was putting pressure on myself to create when I didn’t feel like it, so even when I did try to self shoot the photos didn’t come out how I wanted 🤷🏼‍♀️

Thankfully, Autumn is well and truly here and I’m feeling really really motivated to start taking photos again. It’s my favourite season for both the colours and the fashion, so I feel like it’s a time of the year where my ‘at home’ content always starts to improve a little 🍂

As I’m not going to be travelling anywhere for a while, I feel like this is going to be the year to embrace my Autumn content even more (starting with this gorgeous @joanieclothing dress) ❤️📸 

I hope you’re all as excited as I am for my content over the next few weeks 😂🎃👀 #joaniegirls
    • I know things have been a little quiet around here the past few weeks but it’s for good reason, I promise! 🥺❤️

So, as I haven’t mentioned it here yet, last week I started working for a new job on a part-time basis! 👏🏻 I’ve been doing lots of training and getting used to my new schedule so unfortunately, Instagram fell behind a little bit. I feel like I haven’t had the time to develop content ideas or create new Reels for a couple of weeks now and when I finally remember to post, it’s gone 10pm and far too late to consider posting 😂

I’m finally getting the hang of things again, so consider this post an accountability post to say that I’ll be back to posting properly ASAP 🥺✌🏻
    • I don’t have a lot to say today so I thought I’d let you all know I really miss Disney California Adventure, even if their churros were extremely overpriced and small 🎡🎠
Side note: next time I go to a Disney park, will someone please remind me to wear something practical? I looked cute but oh my god, it was so WARM 🥵 #plussizetraveltoo
So, earlier this week I shared a video of myself in a bikini. It was the first time I’ve ever worn a bikini to the beach and honestly, I was super proud of myself for taking a big step personally on my journey 👙
Over the course of the last few days I have a lot of positive and supportive comments from people but of course, when a video on Instagram gets a lot of views, it starts to attract those that think those in a larger body than them shouldn’t be allowed to live their best lives on social media.
They’re the people who, no matter what I’m doing, tell me I’m promoting obesity by sharing videos and images of my body online 🤷🏼‍♀️📸
These comments don’t phase me anymore, so....
By posting videos of myself travelling and enjoying myself, I’m not saying HEY EVERYONE  YOU SHOULD ALL GAIN WEIGHT AND I WON’T BE HAPPY UNTIL THE WHOLE WORLD IS FAT LIKE ME. I obviously recognise that there can be health complications for some people, but size does not indicate your health and health does not indicate your worth. 
Every single person on this planet deserves love and respect and I am going to continue to fight for that every. single. day. Just because someone lives in a body that is bigger than yours, it doesn’t mean that can’t live the same life that you do publicly for fear that people are going to come for them online.
When people say we’re promoting obesity what they really mean is we’re promoting loving yourself at any size. We’re promoting happiness. Following your dreams. Travelling the world. Finding confidence. We’re promoting the life that everyone deserves to live.
Honestly, I didn’t realise a video of a happy fat girl in a bikini was going to make people so mad 🤷🏼‍♀️👙 #plussizetraveltoo
    • I’ve been quiet the last few days but I’m back and feeling super refreshed after spending a night glamping, even if it was just thirty minutes from my front door ❤️🥺
2020 really has been a whirlwind but I am so so thankful for all of these small, happy moments ✨#plussizetraveltoo



    • Is anyone else ready for Autumn? 🍂 📸: @sandrapotisek
    • Here’s your friendly reminder that every body is a beach body ☀️🦩👙 📸: @lb_trippinagain #plussizetraveltoo
    • This is a common question for plus size travellers and after experiencing it difficulty on a recent flight, @megkatem has written an article for the Plus Size Travel Too site that looks more into when and where you can’t use a seatbelt extender 💺✈️ 
The link to read is in our bio ✨#plussizetraveltoo
This is one of the most common questions I get asked both here and on Tiktok, so I thought I’d create this video to help 👏🏻
1) Log onto seatguru.com
2) Pull up your flight details on Skyscanner (or the site you use to book your flights)
3) Enter the name of the airline and select the carrier you’re flying with from the drop down menu
4) Enter the date you’re travelling and the flight number (if you have it)
5) Take a look at the seat map. You can see the seat layout, the seats closest to the toilets, the ones with the most legroom etc
6) Click info at the top of the screen and scroll down, here you will see the width and pitch of each seat for each available class
7) If needed, scroll through the customer photos to get an idea of what the pay looks like from a user-perspective
I hope that helps! If you have any questions, please ask below and I’ll do my best to answer 👇🏻❤️ #plussizetraveltoo #plussizetravel #plussizetraveltips
    • Are you looking for plus size friendly activities in LA? Plus Size Travel Too founder @kirstyleanneuk shares her top picks in a recent PSTT blog post ❤️🇺🇸
“LACMA URBAN LIGHTS: Created by Chris Burden, the Urban Lights have been outside of the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art for almost 12 years. There are a total of 202 1920's lamps and 309 LED bulbs that make up the incredible structure. We visited during the day but as the sun starts to go down, no matter what time that is, the lights will turn on. When the sun comes back up again the next morning, they turn off thanks to an astronomical timer. Since their installation in 2008, they actually haven't missed a single night”
Find out what else is included by clicking the link in bio 📸: @fordtography #plussizetraveltoo
    • Have you ever put off living your life because of your weight? Kristina from @livingwonderfilled thinks about all of the things she wished she hadn’t missed in her latest blog post on Plus Size Travel Too ☀️🚣‍♀️
At the end of the day, when we were talking about how great of a time we’d had, planning more days like this, I suddenly felt kind of nostalgic for all the days I’d missed. All the times like that one, when all everyone wanted to do was have fun, but I got too in my head about it to let myself enjoy.”
The link to read the post is in the profile bio ✨#plussizetraveltoo
    • Ever wondered what it’s like to visit a Moroccan Hammam while plus size? ✨
“As a plus size woman, I did not feel embarrassed as the hammam I visited had women of all shapes and sizes. No one judged or batted an eye. I was the only woman with dark skin there, however, but still no one seemed to care and were too busy enjoying their spa experience. It was just a normal day for the women who lived there as this was something integral in their culture. I quickly realized that my fears and insecurities stemmed from being judged in America, but that Moroccans were much more accepting and unbothered. I just had a body, it was nothing to gawk at or laugh at, as I had imagined. It was serene to simply be allowed to exist without feeling ostracized. It was also a confidence boost to walk around practically naked while indulging in spa treatments.”
Katrina, from @globalmidwife shared her experience over on the Plus Size Travel Too blog. To read more, visit this link in our bio 🌍 #plussizetraveltoo
So for the past few months I have been mentioning a ‘secret project’ and after lots of hard work, the launch day has finally come. Although I know was supposed to launch last week, I had a number of setbacks and I wanted to ensure everything was perfect before I put it out into the world 🥺
Today is the launch day for the Plus Size Travel Too website, a safe plus for plus size travellers to find inspiration and advice when it comes to their travels ✈️
Although I regularly post plus size travel content on my own website and blog, I wanted to create a space that was dedicated specifically to plus size travel, rather than it being mixed in with all of the other topics I cover. It’s a place for community, as plus size travellers are also encouraged to submit their own advice and experiences too 🥰
To celebrate the launch day, there are already some INCREDIBLE posts live. These posts have been submitted by @cardifforniagurl @thetravelcurve @thecrownwings @globalmidwife @gemmaslittleworld @livingwonderfilled @rhianwestbury and @leabellablogs ❤️
I’d love it if you head over to www.plussizetravel.com (the link is in my bio) to have a read of their awesome work and if you can, spread the word about the launch. Wether you’re plus size or not, you never know who may benefit from something they may read ✨ #plussizetraveltoo
    • 🌈 HAPPY PRIDE 🌈 although celebrations may be a little different this year due to COVID-19, we want to know how you’re celebrating in the comments! 👇🏻
Here at Plus Size Travel Too, I’m celebrating by donating to Mermaids - a charity that supports trans children and their families! If you want to do the same I’ve popped the link in my bio (as well as links to 12 other organisations you can donate to today, or any other day of the year!) 🌈📸: @readytostare #pride