Using “popular” hashtags won’t get you followers on Instagram

| 4 minute read

Those of you who have been active on Instagram for some time now have surely come across one of those “popular hashtag generator” services when googling “How to get real followers on Instagram”, “How to get discovered on Instagram”, etc.

We don’t want to name any names, but it is quite possible you know the kind of websites we’re talking about…

The thing is that they don’t work and every time you use these so-called “popular” hashtags, somewhere in Antarctica a baby emperor penguin trips and falls on his face.

So, what hashtags specifically are we talking about here? Let’s use one of these websites to find out.

Imagine the following scenario: you’re on a trip in Canada and manage to take a stunning shot of the Peyto Lake. You are really proud of your photo and you think it deserves proper recognition on Instagram. You visit one of these “popular” hashtag list pages and there you see a “Nature” category of tags. Cool! This is what you get:

#nature #sky #sun #summer #beach #beautiful #pretty #sunset #sunrise #blue #flowers #night #tree #twilight #clouds #beauty #light #cloudporn #photooftheday #love #green #skylovers #dusk #weather #day #red #iphonesia #mothernature

In a few hours, though, to your surprise, you don’t receive any new followers or likes outside your followers list.

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons:

1) Your hashtags aren’t relevant.

Check the hashtags you got again, do they seem relevant to you?

#twilight ? What if you took the photo during a golden hour?

#beach ? What if you’re hundreds of kilometers away from the ocean?

#cloudporn ? What if you got a crystal clear sky?

2) Hashtag “popularity” is not a good thing.

Let’s see how many photos are tagged under some of these hashtags.

#nature – around 130 million.

#clouds – around 50 million.

#sunset – around 87 million.

These hashtags are so heavily used that if you upload a new shot under #nature for example, it will get lost in the hashtag feed in a minute… See for yourself!

3) Nobody reposts pictures from your hashtags.

This is a huge one. No repost profile goes through such huge amount of photos to find a shot that is worth reposting. Instead, they come up with their own hashtags, so it’s easier for them to pick one that is beautiful and relevant to their content.

Do you want to use hashtags that actually make sense? Are you tired of beating up those poor penguins? Good!

Let’s imagine the same scenario, but instead of using “popular” hashtags, you’ll use our HASHTAG IT app to get those proper hashtags! Let’s see what we got.

HASHTAG IT screenshot

As you can see on the screenshot, we picked the Nature category and selected Alberta as our location.

#explorealberta #igcanada_ #thecanadiancollective #enjoycanada #imagesofcanada #greatnorthco #explorecanada #igs_america #ig_all_americas #loves_americas #ig_northamerica #nature_good  #hot_shotz #agameoftones #adventurethatislife #modernoutdoorsman #artofvisuals #ig_today #exploretocreate #princely_shotz #discoverpix #quietthechaos #travelingourplanet #igmasters #wpofavs #awesome_photographers #iggloballife #ig_mood #earthpix

Let’s compare this to the previous hashtags.

1) Your hashtags are now relevant!

You got hashtags relevant to your content (nature) and to your location (North America, Canada, Alberta province).

2) Your hashtags are used, but not overused.

#explorealberta – around 415 thousand.

#enjoycanada – around 130 thousand.

#adventurethatislife – around 160 thousand.

What does that tell us? These hashtags are used, but not so heavily that no one can find your shot among them. Also, if your photo gains a lot of likes, it will appear in the TOP POSTS section of the hashtag you used. Sure, this is also true for “popular” hashtags, but it takes a lot more activity on your post to get there.

3) Your picture might be reposted!

All hashtags you get from HASHTAG IT are linked to profiles that repost photos from the particular hashtags you used. If you get featured by one of these repost profiles, you’ll easily expose yourself to thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of Instagrammers like you!

The bottom line is, don’t use those “popular” hashtags anymore, they are worthless. Use hashtags that are actually relevant to your content.

Think of the penguins.

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