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Today, we’re talking tools for hashtag growth. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of different opinions on the hashtag growth technique, and on hashtags in general. Some people swear by them, some don’t understand them, and others see no benefit. And, of course, there’s that whole “shadowban” situation that’s given hashtags a bad reputation. Take it from us, hashtags can really work to your benefit if you use them correctly. Keep reading below for the 4-1-1 on hashtags and some of the best tools for hashtag growth!

Tools for Hashtag Growth: #TheBasics

For those of you who might be new to hashtags, we’ll break it down to the basics. Hashtags can be topics (#fashion), phrases (#photooftheday), movements (#blacklivesmatter), or pretty much anything that you can use to describe or categorize a post. As Instagram users, you can follow certain hashtags, like #AtHomeWorkouts, to get a ton of related content from lots of different users on your feed.

Hashtag growth provides an awesome opportunity for tapping into a targeted audience. Users who search or follow a hashtag you’re using is interested in your type of content, which increases the likelihood that they’ll follow you.

Tools for Hashtag Growth: The Rules of Hashtags

There are a lot of theories, rumors and suspicions about hashtags. We’ll even admit to shying away from using them in the height of some of these rumors. We’ll be in honest in admitting that we can’t say which ones of those rumors, if any, are true, because we aren’t sure ourselves. We can, however, make you aware of some of them so that you can be smarter when using hashtags.

Rule #1:  If you use a banned hashtag, Instagram won’t list in association with the hashtag you used

This is what the dreaded shadowban theory is. There’s a whole list of banned hashtags that, if used, will get your photo blocked on the platform. This hurts exposure, may have further implications for your account from Instagram, and ultimately is bad for hashtag growth. Be sure to read through the list and check for updates to make sure you don’t get shadowbanned. Again, we can’t verify that everything on the linked list above is truly banned by Instagram, but some of the more common ones, like #TodayImWearing or #Skateboarding, would make anyone curious about what else is on the list.

Rule #2:  You can’t use the same group of hashtags very frequently

For a long time, the hot topic around hashtags was that you couldn’t use the same copy-and-paste hashtag blocks for every photo, or even most photos. Supposedly, you can switch out a handful of them to get around this rule, but if not, Instagram won’t show your photo to anyone who doesn’t already follow you. So if you’re using the hashtag growth method we recommend switching up your used hashtags from post to post.

Rule #3:  You can only post 30 hashtags per post, but some say the sweet spot is 15

Instagram lets you use 30 hashtags (maximum) per post, and some articles have suggested that the sweet spot is 15. We say the more the better especially if you’re using the hashtag growth technique. Logically, the more hashtags, the more opportunity for exposure. Make sure you actually count your hashtags though, because if you use too many, Instagram won’t let you post it, and the entire list you’ve made is lost and unable to be copied. 

Tools for Hashtag Growth: A Quick Note

Before we get into our favorite tools for hashtag growth, we just to make sure we’re covering all of our bases. We want to give you this quick tip on optimizing hashtag growth through effective hashtag use. The most important tip that we wanted to make clear is that the hashtags you use should be relevant to the content you’re posting. If it’s a fashion photo, don’t tag #FootballGame. Even though #FootballGame might be a popular or trending tag at the time, if it isn’t relevant to your photo or your content, it isn’t going to help you achieve anything in terms of engagement or growth. In fact, tagging irrelevant things on your content could have a negative impact on your overall personal brand by confusing your audience base and the people who view your posts.

Tools for Hashtag Growth: Grow Baby, Grow

Service #1:  Preview App

Honestly, Preview App is just the best. If you keep up with our blog, you’ll have seen this app mentioned many times before. It has a ton of uses, the primary one being an easy (and free) way to plan out your Instagram feed. It has paid services like post scheduling and analytics, but hashtag research is not one of those paid services. Preview App offers a pretty powerful hashtag research system that allows you to search for hashtags by category and popularity, ideal for a hashtag growth strategy. This effectively allows the user to make sure that the hashtags they’re using are both popular and relevant, which in turn, optimizes growth and targeted exposure.

Another really awesome thing about Preview App is that you can store hashtag groups in the app. We mentioned above that Instagram doesn’t like when you use the same hashtag groups over and over again. We use Preview App to quickly and easily create multiple hashtag groups, all under one category, that can be used interchangeably on our photos. Preview App is honestly one of our favorite Instagram-related apps, for many reasons, and we highly suggest checking it out. All of the things mentioned above are completely free!

Service #2:  HashtagsForLikes 

HashtagsForLikes is an awesome free site that allows you to search specific hashtags to see their impact, reach, and other related stats. This tool is really, really powerful and gives you an insane amount of information about hashtags. This lets the user make the smartest, most strategic decision possible for your hashtag growth plan. Some of the information included in the free version of the site are listed below:

  • Live meter rating on whether the hashtag is “Hot Now, Underused, Long Life or Overused”
  • Number of unique posts using the hashtag
  • Total reach of the hashtag
  • Average likes on posts using the hashtag
  • Second best hashtags to the hashtag you are searching
  • Related hashtags
  • Top 10 hashtags frequently used along with the hashtag you are searching 

Great, right? In the event you want to pay for their additional services, you’ll get access to further analytics, but in our personal opinion, we think their free services are beyond sufficient.

Service #3:  Socialert

Socialert is similar to HashtagsForLikes, but offers a slightly different set of analytics to help your hashtag growth strategy. This service is free, but has Premium options that you can pay for. See the list below for some of the awesome free tools Socialert offers:

  • Total number of posts using the searched hashtag
  • Total number of users using the searched hashtag
  • Total reach
  • Total impressions
  • Numerical hour-by-hour timeline on hashtag impressions and use
  • Top mentions for the hashtag
  • Top influencers using the hashtag
  • Hashtag use by country
  • Top related hashtags to the hashtag you searched
  • Top profile keywords related to the hashtag you searched