How to Conduct Instagram Hashtag Research

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Last Updated: Apr 24, 2020

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Have you done any Instagram hashtag research lately? Whether or not you have, for the past few years, they’ve been taking the world by storm. No, but in all seriousness—in 2012 “hashtag” was named the word of the year. Later on, a baby would be named Hashtag and the term itself would be legally banned in France.

See what we mean? Pretty crazy stuff.

But you know where hashtags got their start, right? It had nothing to do with dictionaries or pregnant women or Europe- it all started with social media. Since 2010, Instagram hashtags have been uniting brands with the audiences who most desperately crave their content. There’s only one potential problem, here—as a business, how should you use them on Instagram?

It’s a fair question, and one that we answer on a daily basis here at Kicksta. So, if you’re in need of some solid direction in the ways of Instagram hashtag research, rest assured, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading—below, you’ll find a number of instructions to help you milk Instagram hashtags for all they’re worth:

Using Instagram’s Built-In Search Functionality

Okay, this one’s a bit simple, but it’s without a doubt the best place to start your Instagram hashtag research. As always, when you have a pressing question and are looking for an answer, Google is where you’re headed. Similarly, with your business’ specialty in mind, use Instagram’s built-in search bar to search out popular, industry-specific terms.

how to find hashtags

When you do, Instagram will automatically suggest a few hashtags for you, and show you how many posts contain said hashtags. Once again, this is the most fundamental way to conduct hashtag research, but it’s an excellent place to start, and a step that shouldn’t be looked over.

The Right Tools to Get the Job Done

Google and Instagram searches are great, but getting hashtags right doesn’t have to stop there. In fact, to help businesses out even more, a number of digital tools have quickly made a name for themselves as hashtags have grown in popularity. The following four are a few of the best:

1) HashAtIt

HashAtIt is one of the Internet’s favorite hashtag databases. Whether it be Facebook and Twitter or Pinterest and Instagram, if you want to know what hashtags are being used, HashAtIt can help out. Oh! And here’s the best part—it’s 100% free.

Instagram hashtag research example

2) HashTracking

HashTracking is devoted entirely to Twitter and Instagram hashtag analysis. That said, there’s quite a bit of correlation between trending Twitter hashtags and their Instagram counterparts, so feel free to explore both platforms.

Instagram hashtag research example

3) Keyhole

The biggest difference between Keyhole and the rest of its competitors comes from the site’s emphasis on real-time hashtag tracking. In other words, Keyhole wants you to know what hashtags Instagrammers are using right this very instant.

Instagram hashtag research example


Of the options presented on this post, NUVI is by far the cream of the crop. Yes, NUVI offers much in the ways of hashtag help, but more than anything, with NUVI, you’re able to monitor your Instagram account at all times and chime in whenever an enticing conversation appears to be materializing.

Instagram hashtag research example

Case in point? No matter the size of your business or budget, there’s a hashtag tool out there that can help you take your Instagram marketing magic to the next level. We highly recommend that you experiment with two or three of them or request a buyer demo before making a long-term purchase.

Different Hashtag Types to Focus On

Instagram is all about creativity. Images, video snippets, marketing methods—with all of it, the more out-of-the-box your thinking, the more upside it could potentially have. Hashtags are no different. The tendency has always been for Instagram brands to play it safe and stick with what’s most relevant to the products or services they specialize in.

Instagram hashtag research example

This is great and all, but #Handbag isn’t necessarily going to help you discover new audiences or find your voice on an already crowded platform. Remember that “creativity” of which was previously made mention? Now is the time to bust it out. Instead of using only industry-relevant hashtags, try a few of the following on for size:

Local Hashtags – Depending on the size of your business, this can be huge.

Event Hashtags – What’s trending, but not necessarily brand-specific? Join the chat.

Holiday Hashtags – There’s a holiday just about every month—use them wisely.

Brand Hashtags – Looking for a unique hashtag? Come up with one of your own.

There’s an easy way to do hashtags, and the right way to do hashtags. Use some critical thinking to make hashtags less of a checklist item, and more of something you use to access new, exciting audiences on Instagram.


During your team’s brainstorming meetings, think about how each of the above hashtag tools and types might nicely mesh with what your brand’s Instagram content calendar has on the docket. The more seamlessly you can align the two, the better. From there, it’s your job to couple Instagram hashtag research with great content. No worries—hashtags will do the rest.

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