Hashtag Research - Guide to getting your post Viral

Ultimate Guide to Hashtags - thesocialbutlerfly

How to use Hashtags effectively

What are Hashtags in Instagram

A hashtag is a word or a phrase preceded with a pound (#) sign and is used to categorize and/or find content around the topic.

If you search for a particular hashtag, eg., #dogs. You should see post of photos or videos with dogs in it.

Brands use hashtags to make their products searchable through hashtags and it is a very powerful tool.

Look at how Nike use their slogan #justdoit as their hashtag.

hashtag research by the social butlerlfly

Why using Hashtags in your Post is important?

According to Simply Measured,

  1. Posts with just 1 hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement compared to a post without
  2. Posts with hashtags are 55% more likely to be shared
  3. 70% of hashtags are branded

Using the right hashtags can help expose your post to a larger group of audience. Some brands uses hashtags to target their viewers and the crowd they want to attract. People with like minded interest are more likely to like your content and follow you.

Hashtag Rules

First off, don't get all excited and start spamming your hashtags right away.

There are couple of rules that you have to adhere to prevent yourself from getting "Shadow Banned". "Shadow banning" is where a non-follower searches for a hashtag you have tagged in your post, but not being able to see your post. You've been warned!

Follow the rules below and you should be safe.

  1. Not more than 30 hashtags
  2. Try to use hashtags that are not too lengthy
  3. Exclude special characters or spaces
  4. Banned hashtags - to know if the hashtags are banned, search the hashtag and clicked on it, if it says something like hashtag is broken or something like that. Don't use it
  5. No profane languages, anything to do with violence, nudity, discrimination
  6. Use hashtags in captions and not comments
  7. Use dots or line breaks like in the photo below to bury the hashtags

hashtag hacks how to get viral on instagram the social butlerfly

Hashtag Strategies

There are a couple of ways to source for hashtags and I suggest that you jot them in a notepad or better still use an excel spreadsheet to keep a record.

Remember, hashtags used, should be relevant to your post. Also, use General popular hashtags like #throwbackthursday #tgif, etc.

Lets jump right in. Below is a systematic guide to finding your hashtags.

  1. Determine the niche of your post. (fitness, food, photography, etc.)
  2. Determine your competitors (preferably the more influential ones).
  3. Then find out what are the hashtags your competitors are using for photos similar to yours.
  4. Copy down the hashtags in an excel spreadsheet. hashtag excel the social butlerfly
  5. After that, go through the individual hashtags on your Instagram and it will show you how many posts have used this hashtag. (refer to picture below) Put that number down next to the hashtag in your notepad or spreadsheet (refer to picture above).

post the go viral the social butlerfly

If you are out of hashtag ideas, you may also used those prompted on the search screen as alternatives.

Something to note, while deciding which hashtags to use. Do not choose all hashtags with millions of post thinking you will get an explosive amount of likes. No! Your post will be buried to the middle of the page in minutes. You will never be seen or ranked with those.

To put it simply, this is what you should be looking for (no hard and fast rule to the numbers below, but you get the gist of staggering your hashtags):

  • 10 x Tier 1 Hashtags: > 500k
  • 10 x Tier 2 Hashtags: between 75k to 500k
  • 10 x Tier 3 Hashtags: between 1k to 75k

The rational behind staggering your hashtags is because for a small account to rank top 9 in a hashtag with 1 million post is difficult. So you need to start from the smaller hashtags.

To put this into perspective, assuming you have a viral content. When you post at the right time, you get a small influx of likes enough for you to rank top 9 in a Tier 3 hashtag of say 20k posts. Then those people searching for the hashtag sees yours in top 9 and likes you photo and that brings you up the rank. In our good scenario, you have garnered enough likes to rank top 9 in the Tier 2 hashtag now. More people sees it and more likes and it cascades to the Tier 1 hashtag.

Get it? If not use the messenger on our website and chat with us.


1. Shouldn't I be using more Tier 3 hashtags?

A: Nope you shouldn't because Tier 3 hashtags are less searched and generally it means you may not get too much likes from there.

2. Then shouldn't I be using more Tier 1 hashtags?

A: Also a no, because Tier 1 hashtags are very fluid and it moves very fast, you may garner a few more likes from here (and you need it, that is why you still need to put 10 of such hashtags here), however your post may be buried within minutes.

Posting Time

This is very important and using this together with your hashtag research could lead you to have explosive likes.

Understand whats the best time your audience are active using Instagram Insights.

Post when your audience are the post active, so that once they see your posts, they can engage immediately.

There you go, now do your hashtags research post and get viral!

Like all things, its always the most difficult at first, but once you have a system in place and after a few rounds of practice, it will get easier!

Also, if you simply do not have the time to do all these, but still want targeted growth, please check out our price packages for our affordable Growth Management Services!

Instagram Growth Package

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