#010 – Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Just an FYI, I am writing this on 12 October 2020 so by the time you read this (whenever that may be, this content may be outdated so check the Instagram tag for latest stuff.)

Once upon a time I was epic at Instagram growth because organic reach was good and engagement was high.

Then it got F’ed up (Facebook-ed up that is) and none of the stuff works any more.

For a new account, hashtags were always great for getting discovered.

Not so much now thanks to these algorithm changes happening every damn day it seems.

That’s why a lot of people have started to neglect Instagram quality content and just focus on paid ads.

Or they try to grow by buying followers, paying influencers or relying on giveaways and contests.

All are legit options but I don’t recommend them – that’ll be a separate post.

The thing is that some accounts do still grow from scratch, quickly and get results quickly.

And hashtags is going to be a big part of that.

I spent something like 14 hours over the last 2 days going over hashtag stats and analysis and working out my own hashtag strategy.

I am doing this for more than 1 brand so it took a while.

It also means I can test my theory properly.

5 brands?

Just as a refresher for the brands we’re talking about here and the variety of industries…

At the minute, Happy Healthy Herd has an active Tiktok following (5.7k followers, baby!!) but aside from that:

  • None currently have any active social media activity
  • None have any ads running to them
  • None have an existing mailing list
  • Abhi G is the one my friends are on so it does have a more engaged following than the rest
  • At the time of writing, my account for this page has zero posts, followers or following
  • Limitless and Fitter Body both have a consistent 1 post a day with very low engagement
  • Happy Healthy Nerd has just got some Peloton selfies with low engagement otherwise

So my hashtag framework…

In my view, there are 3 sort of categories of hashtags:

  • Hashtags people will engage with even if they’re not your target audience
  • Hashtags your target audience use
  • Hashtags your target audience browse

I’ll give you 2 examples.

A personal trainer who mainly works with women in their 30s and 40s

  • #personaltrainer – other trainers probably use it and browse it so they’ll engage with the content
  • #weightlossjourney – the target audience might post their own pics and use that hashtag but are less likely to browse it
  • #britainsgottalent – ok this is time-sensitive because I’m writing this 2 days after the final, but they might be on Instagram browsing the comments and posts on it

An Etsy seller who sells jewellery

  • #Etsyseller – other Etsy sellers will probably be using this one and engage on it
  • #vintagenecklace – the target audience probably use this one more than they browse it
  • #etsyjewellery – the target audience will be browsing this one looking for jewellery ideas and inspiration

Hopefully you get the idea.

Next… Content and hashtags

So when I was last an Instagram hashtag master a couple of years ago, it was basically this:

  • Rotate hashtags
  • Stick to hashtags with 10k-500k posts
  • Post 3x/day


When I started posting on Limitless Fitness I was posting 3x/day and the results were looking promising but then I pulled it back.

I’m a 1 man army trying to do this across 5 brands and scaling to multiple channels.

3x/day is unlikely for all 5. I’ll start with 2x and then when I feel confident with time requirements and consistency I’ll up it to 3x.

It will probably be 2x original posts and 1x repost each day.

I’ve spoken about content strategy already so I just need to scale that up when I feel ready.

I would rather start a bit lighter and then build instead of starting heavy and feeling like I’ve over committed.


Ok so first of all, like I said, it took me 3-4 hours per brand to do my hashtag research but I’ll some it up like this:

  • Make a list of short keywords
  • For each keyword, open Instagram website on desktop
  • In the search bar, type your short keyword with the hashtag symbol at the front then add 1 letter at the end.
  • Do this for each letter of the alphabet, and list out all the keywords which have somewhere between 10k and 3m posts.
  • I’m using a spreadsheet which is basically just the longer hashtag and current post volume.

So for a trainer, some of their short keywords would be fitness, gym, weight loss.

So you would search #fitnessa and then see what results come up in the auto suggest.

I haven’t tested any of the next steps yet but I’m going to try this structure:

  • 3 hashtags – over 1m posts
  • 10 hashtags – 100k-1m posts
  • 12 hashtags – 10k-100k posts
  • 5 hashtags – make up on the spot, specific to the post and content

I use a scheduling app and being able to copy and paste the hashtags from the spreadsheet straight in on the desktop will be a life saver.

So just so you know where I’m starting at:

  • Today’s date is 12 October 2020
    • Limitless Fitness
      • Up unitl today has been on 1x post daily
      • Will be increasing to 2x daily with new strategy
    • Fitter Body Plan
      • Up unitl today has been on 1x post daily
      • Will be increasing to 2x daily with new strategy
      • I’m also aiming to start Pinterest this week so that might have some impact too
    • Happy Healthy Nerd
      • Up until today has just been my daily Peloton selfie
      • I’m going to spend this week getting content ready to get ahead and start posting 2x daily next week
    • Abhi G
      • As with Nerd, I’m going to get some content ready this week to get ahead and then start posting consistently next week or the following week
    • Super Simple Mode
      • Sitting on 0 everything
      • I’m going to get the content ready – I’m keeping it Super Simple of course – and will have it going out from next week.
      • I’m aiming to keep this as 3x day of just my own posts but it’ll mainly be tweet screenshots so easy to make and low production value but high info value.
      • This will be slightly different because I have zero everything, I do need to start following others to get some traction before I can get any kind of leverage

So that’s my hashtag strategy, let’s see how we go!

You’ll have some idea of progress in 3-4 weeks when they’re all firing and I’ll have some stats to report back.

Keep an eye out for that post.

About Abhi

Hi, I'm Abhi. I'm a blogger, copywriter, marketer and coach. Super Simple Mode is my space where I document everything I try in marketing and conversion so you can learn from my screw ups. Thanks for being here.