Hashtags are a fantastic way to reach new audiences on Instagram. They require very little effort and no cash investment, but they can lead people who may be interested in your content right to you.

But how do you choose hashtags for your post? How many should you use, and where should you put them? Here are some quick and effective tips to up your hashtag game.

1. Be conscious of the number and placement of your hashtags

In a recent study, SocialInsider examined 650,000 Instagram posts to determine how hashtag use affected their performance. What they found was that overall, posts with 7 or 30 hashtags hidden in the caption got the most engagement.

However, they found that the number, placement, and visibility of hashtags for optimal performance varied according to the profile size. Here are their profile-size-specific recommendations:

Number of followers           Number of hashtags       Placement 
Under 5k 6 Hidden in caption
5k-10k 5 First comment
10k-50k 2 Hidden in caption
50k-100k 8 Hidden in caption
100k+ 6 First comment

2. Hide your hashtags in the caption

If your brand is in any of the categories where hiding your hashtags in the caption is most effective, you may be wondering: how does one hide a hashtag?

Instagram limits the amount of text shown on your feed and hides additional text behind a “show more” link. Your goal is to get your hashtags to appear after that link. The problem is, when you’re keeping your captions short and sweet — always a good idea — how do you add enough text to keep your hashtags hidden?

The trick is to add line breaks. But this is a little harder than it sounds, because the Instagram app tends to wipe out line breaks added to text inputted directly to the caption editor.

The solution is to type your caption in a different text editor (like a note-taking app), then copy-paste. Type a character (a period is most inconspicuous, but you could also use asterisks or anything you like), then a line break, then another character, then another line break, until you have at least 5 lines. Add your hashtags underneath, and then copy and paste the whole thing into the Instagram caption editor.

3. Find popular hashtags related to your brand

Check out what hashtags influencers and brands like yours are using. People interested in related content will be searching those hashtags and will therefore be more likely to come across your content. It’s a great way to ensure your posts are reaching appropriate audiences.

When you type a hashtag into the caption editor, Instagram will automatically tell you how many posts exist that use that hashtag. You can also use a hashtag finder or generator tool to help you discover hashtags related to your content.

4. Search hashtags before using them

Before you use a hashtag, search it yourself to see who is using it and what kind of content comes up. Just because a popular influencer or brand used it, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for your content.

5. Combine popular hashtags with smaller niche hashtags

It’s the eternal dilemma of online advertising: should you use a popular search term/category/hashtag, which may have a wider reach, but a lot more competition? Or should you use a smaller niche one, which may not appeal to as wide an audience, but is more likely to be seen by people looking for that specific kind of content?

The answer is: both!

Popular hashtags put you on the map, but there are a lot of other Instagrammers on the map. Niche or location-based hashtags help you stand out to the audience that is most relevant to you. Use a combination of both in every post.

6. Keep a list

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you post something on IG. Compile a list of hashtags relevant to your brand. That way, when you create a post, you can consult the list and choose appropriate hashtags without having to conduct exhaustive research all over again. You can also mark on this list how many times you’ve used each hashtag.

7. Switch it up

Varying your hashtags makes it possible to reach a wider and more diverse audience. People who search #sailing are not necessarily the same people who search #sailboats, but if you’re a sailboat rental company, it’s a good idea to reach all of them. Using different hashtags in each post gives you the opportunity to try out lots of different hashtags and see which ones get you the most engagement.

Remember that Instagrammers use hashtags to find content that interests and inspires them. By employing these tips and using a variety of relevant hashtags, you’ll help the people most interested in your message find you — and hopefully, become devoted followers and customers.