The Complete Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags for Ecommerce

January 16, 2020
by
Boris Mustapic

The Complete Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags for Ecommerce

January 16, 2020
by
Boris Mustapic
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As an ecommerce brand, you’re most likely already using Instagram to reach your target audience, improve brand awareness, and generate more traffic and sales. But did you know Instagram hashtags are crucial for generating attention on the platform?

In this guide, we’re going to cover how you can use hashtags to get more people to notice and engage with your content.

What are Instagram Hashtags?

Instagram hashtags are words or phrases that are used to tag and organize content on the platform. They enable users to discover similar content more easily. Once users click on a hashtag, they’re taken to a page that displays all the content that’s been tagged with that particular hashtag.

Users can also follow hashtags, which means they’ll see content tagged with particular hashtags displayed in their Instagram feed.

All hashtags begin with the pound or, what’s more commonly known now as, the hashtag symbol (#). They can include letters and numbers, but not punctuation or symbols.

You can place Instagram hashtags in your account bio, post descriptions or comments.

Why You Need to Use Instagram Hashtags

Instagram hashtags are crucial for improving the reach of your content, as well as generating more engagement and gaining more followers. Hashtags also enable you to get your products in front of people who are interested in them.

They’re a great way to help your followers, fans and brand advocates find your content more easily. Hashtags enable you to improve brand awareness, as well as take advantage of current events to promote your brand and products.

Most Instagram users understand the importance of hashtags. That’s why as many as 66.6% of all Instagram posts contain at least one.

Image source: Buffer.com

Types of Instagram Hashtags

There are different types of hashtags you can use to improve the reach of your Instagram posts

Which hashtags you use will depend on the specific situation and post you’re looking to promote. For instance, you can take advantage of trending hashtags, niche hashtags, branded hashtags, location-specific hashtags, seasonal hashtags and event-based hashtags.

Trending Hashtags

Trending hashtags are hashtags that are currently popular in the Instagram community for one reason or another. Their popularity is often caused by one or more specific events.

As an ecommerce business, you can take advantage of trending hashtags to generate awareness for your brand or products. If you decide to do this, however, you want to be mindful of which trending hashtags you’re going to use. 

For example, taking advantage of the #MeToo hashtag to generate attention for your products would be highly inappropriate. You need to research a particular trending hashtag before attaching your company to it. Then, only use those hashtags that are relevant to your content and brand. 

A great example of a brand that uses trending hashtags effectively is Lush. The cosmetics brand is known for being an advocate for animal rights, and frequently uses trending hashtags related to this cause.

Image source: Instagram

Niche Hashtags

Niche hashtags are related to your specific industry. These types of hashtags help you reach your target audience more easily. If you run a men’s clothing brand, for example, niche hashtags could include #menstyle and #menswear.

Niche hashtags should be the staple of your hashtag marketing strategy. You’ll want to research to find out the most popular Instagram hashtags in your industry, as well as identify a few less popular hashtags that will help you stand out more easily.

Image source: Instagram

Branded Hashtags

Branded hashtags are ones you create for your brand exclusively. Their purpose is to help build awareness for your brand or campaign, as well as get your products in front of more people.

Branded hashtags are also a great way to collect and keep track of user-generated content. Examples of branded hashtags include Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke and Fashion Nova’s #novababe.

Your branded hashtag needs to be unique, as well as easy to remember and use. After creating a hashtag for your brand, make sure to encourage your followers and customers to use it.

Image source: Instagram.com

How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Content

The best way to find the right hashtags for your Instagram posts is to do some research. Which hashtags are other users and businesses using? Which hashtags are popular in your industry?

Start by considering your target audience. Think about all the things your audience is interested in, and brainstorm a few hashtags your potential customers might use.

Next, take a look at your competitors’ Instagram accounts and see which hashtags they’re using. Note which of their posts generated a lot of engagement and which didn’t.

Image source: Sproutsocial.com


Finally, find a few popular influencers in your niche and check out which hashtags they use. Influencers are on top of the Instagram promotion game, so they’ll usually know some effective ones to use.

Apart from doing manual research, you can also take advantage of a number of tools designed to generate suitable Instagram hashtags for your content. These include:

  • All Hashtag: Enables you to generate 30 relevant hashtags by simply typing in a single word related to your niche. You can choose between top, random and live hashtags.
  • RiteTag: Provides hashtag suggestions for both text and images. It’s based on real-time hashtag engagement and can provide suggestions for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Display Purposes: Generates a number of related hashtags, while filtering out any banned or spammy-looking hashtags. There’s also a feature that allows you to scan your Instagram account and remove any banned hashtags you might have used inadvertently.
  • Sistrix’s Instagram Hashtag Generator: Provides up to 30 related hashtag recommendations. Sistrix’s database contains more than 7.7 million hashtags and is updated regularly.
  • Seekmetrics: Offers a basic and an advanced hashtag generator. The basic generator provides up to 30 related hashtags, while the advanced generator can generate up to 1,000 different hashtags.

Popular Instagram Hashtags for Ecommerce

To help you get started, we’ve collected a number of popular Instagram hashtags for ecommerce. We used rankings from Top-Hashtags.com to find popular hashtags and then grouped them by industry.

In this section, you’re going to find some of the most popular Instagram hashtags in the fashion, fitness, food and travel industries.

Fashion

#fashion

#instastyle

#ootd

#whatiwore

#fashionista

#streetstyle

#outfitinspiration

#outfitinspo

#styleguide

#styleaddict

Fitness

#fitness

#fit

#gym

#workout

#fitnessmotivation

#fitfam

#gymlife

#weightloss

#fitspo

#instafit

Food

#food

#instafood

#foodporn

#foodie

#healthyeats

#foodphotography

#foodstagram

#foodgasm

#tasty

#cleaneating

Travel

#travel

#vacation

#tourist

#wanderlust

#travelgram

#traveltuesday

#travelphotography

#instatravel

#travelingtheworld

#traveltheworld

Best Practices for Using Instagram Hashtags

Before wrapping up this guide, we’re going to go over a few best practices you should keep in mind when using Instagram hashtags.

Don’t Use the Same Hashtags All the Time

The hashtags you use need to be relevant to the post itself. Stuffing your posts with irrelevant hashtags will do more harm than good — prospective followers may bounce, and if you annoy your customers, they might unfollow you or the hashtag itself.

Additionally, if you use the same hashtags all the time, you won’t get a chance to learn which hashtags might produce better results. So, switch it up from time to time.

Avoid Using Banned Hashtags

Instagram has banned certain hashtags from the platform. These include swear words, various derogatory phrases and words that suggest illicit content. Instagram’s banned hashtag list also includes a few you’d never consider, such as #valentinesday and #newyears.

Hashtags get periodically banned from the platform because they’re either inappropriate or being abused in one way or another (often by marketers looking to promote their products in a spammy way). Some users claim that using banned hashtags can get your account shadowbanned, resulting in your posts being hidden from the wider Instagram community. 

While this hasn’t been confirmed by Instagram, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid banned hashtags altogether.

Use a Combination of Trending, Niche and Branded Hashtags

By using a combination of trending, niche and branded hashtags, you’ll give your company or brand the best shot at generating a lot of engagement for your Instagram posts.

You should also strive to use a mix of highly popular and less popular hashtags. The popular hashtags will help expose your content to a large number of people, while the less popular ones will give you a better chance of engaging new users.

Add the Majority of Your Hashtags to the First Comment

If you want to reach a large audience with your Instagram posts, you’ll want to use several hashtags. But stuffing all of them into your post description can detract from the main message, as well as make your post seem spammy.

Use a couple of hashtags in the description, and then add the rest to the first comment. (Yes, that means you’d use your branded Instagram account to leave a comment on your own page.) 

Use Hashtags in Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is another great place to utilize hashtags on the platform. There are three different ways you can use hashtags in Stories: with a sticker, in text or through a location tag. Once you add a hashtag to a story, it’ll be displayed on top and you’ll be able to stylize it the same way you do text and stickers.

The difference between using hashtags in posts and stories is that sometimes the hashtags in a story won’t be added to Instagram’s hashtag aggregation system and available on the Explore tab when users browse a particular hashtag. Whether it gets added or not depends on the quality of the video or image you used in the story, as well as the engagement your story gets.

With that said, it’s definitely worth it to hashtag your stories since over 500 million users look at Instagram Stories every single day.

Host a Hashtag Contest

Instagram users love contests. Hosting a hashtag contest is a great way to make your branded hashtag more popular, as well as encourage the creation of user-generated content that you can use in subsequent campaigns.

Before starting your contest, you’ll want to decide what you’re looking to accomplish — Are you looking to raise brand awareness, get more followers, collect user-generated content or generate sales? 

Decide on a goal and design your contest in a way to give yourself the best chance of achieving it.

Image source: Instagram


After deciding on a goal, you’ll want to figure out one or more prizes for the contestants. This can be anything from getting featured on your account to receiving free products.

Make sure you review Instagram’s promotion guidelines before brainstorming your contest to abide by the platform’s rules.

Measure Your Hashtag Marketing Results

It’s important to track and measure your hashtag marketing results. That way, you’ll be able to understand if what you’re doing is working or not, as well as make any necessary changes.

You’ll want to keep an eye on the following:

  • Views: Track how many views your Instagram posts are getting. Compare how posts with one set of hashtags are performing compared to posts that use a different set of hashtags.
  • Hashtag usage: Are other people using your branded hashtag? It’s crucial to track hashtag usage to understand if your branded hashtag has caught on or if you need to change your strategy to achieve better results.
  • Followers: Your hashtag marketing campaign should generate more exposure for your content, but also help grow your following. Make sure to track follower growth before and after each campaign.
Image source: Iconosquare.com


Instagram hashtags are crucial for generating more engagement on the platform. They can help get your posts in front of more people, as well as make it easier for your customers and brand advocates to find your content.

By using a variety of hashtags, tracking your results and more, you should see a lift in followers and commenters in no time.

Boris Mustapic

Boris Mustapic is a writer and content marketing specialist with a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry. Having built his own successful ecommerce business, he likes to share his knowledge with ecommerce enthusiasts. Apart from writing about marketing and ecommerce, Boris also enjoys a good book and a glass of red wine.