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How to use Instagram Hashtags effectively. The Three-Step Hashtag Feudal System.

Are your IG numbers stuck in a rut? Do you feel your posts are not reaching far enough or getting lost amongst the millions? Are you unsure how to use Instagram hashtags effectively? If you answered yes to these questions I’ve got a standout history-themed three-step process to help.

A quick flashback story…

When I started Instagram I’d snap a perfectly angled history book with strategically placed bookmarks, petals and glitter serenely catching the light. Then, I’d thoughtfully add my caption and emojis. BUT after that, I’d just chuck in any ole hashtags on the fly and click post.

Now, you’ve guessed it, this strategy kinda doesn’t work. So, I’ve researched some top tactics which, my busy history blogging friend, I have put into a three-step process so you can grow your following and engagement on those amazing history posts you pour your heart and soul into. But first, the right approach is everything….

Remember, like people, hashtags are practical, diverse and emotional

“If you want to know how to use Instagram hashtags you must see then as these methods of connection”

  • Hashtags are like the index at the back of a 250-page book on the Tudors. If you’re only interested in Mary Queen of Scots you can search for it super quick. Instagram hashtags tell like-minded users what your content is about and by putting your post in an index, help them find it and you.
  • As we’re human beings hashtags also go beyond Catchphrase’s ‘say what you can see’ but also ‘say what you feel’ or want others to feel when they look at your post. For example #besttripever #fun #calmsoul
  • Your choice of hashtags should reflect the diverse interests and reasons people have for being drawn to a post. For example, if you post an image of Princess Diana because you loved a tiara exhibition at the V&A you may appeal to people who love:
    • tiaras,
    • jewellery,
    • diamonds,
    • royalty,
    • glamour,
    • Princess Diana,
    • 80s fashion,
    • history, and
    • the V&A itself.

Make your posts worth engaging with when they find them

So, if you’re going to make connections you need great content that people want to engage with when they find you through your selection of hashtags. Be true to your content or people won’t connect with you. Don’t try and squeeze your post into a popular hashtag, you will either get lost or just look a little weird as people scroll.

Related Link. Click here if you want 35 ideas for blog posts you can promote on Instagram

TOP TIP: Look at the hashtags you currently use and see what type of content, image or caption is doing well and see how you can join the fun.

Don’t forget the basics

  • Don’t post and ghost. Be social on social media
  • Engage with your followers and within your hashtags
  • You can use 30 hashtags per post and 10 within stories
  • Use hashtags for where your account is right now and where you want it to be (more in the process)
  • You can put hashtags at the bottom, within the post or as a comment
  • You can create your own hashtag like #smarthistoryblogging for your blog
  • Show your personality in your account
  • Include a question (Call To Action is the jargon) at the end or the beginning to get engagement going.

The Hashtag Feudal System: My three-step process on how to use Instagram hashtags

Now we know our hashtags have to make a variety of connections, I want to take you through the three-step process on how to use Instagram hashtags.

And, because we’re history people let’s not be dull. I’ve themed it up a little using the feudal system of Middle Ages England.

Hashtag CategoriesWhat are these hashtags like?No. of posts
KingsThey’re popular and today’s ruling hashtags like #history. Thousands or millions flock to them hoping to be noticed1 million +
BaronsThey’re powerful and well-liked and maybe one day will be as popular as the King 100,000+
KnightsThey’re aspiring hashtags who will go into battle for you5000-100,000
PeasantsThey might be the lowest but if you’re just starting out these are going to work the hardest for you.500-5000

Step One – Research Your Thirty Instagram Hashtags

With the practical and emotional connections, you want to make sorted, now it’s time to discover who are the Kings, Barons, Knights and Peasant hashtags for your posts? So:

  • Write a mega list of hashtags you currently use or could be using. Make sure to include emotional/feeling ones as well as obvious indexing ones. You may need to separate this by the types of posts you do. for example, I post about blogging tips, history books and travel. Each one needs its own research. Sorry.
  • Use the research bar on Instagram to research how many posts each hashtag gets and put them in a category. Make sure you have some in each. If you need to make the numbers up the search bar will give you a handy drop-down of suggestions.
  • Finally, decide which hashtags would you really love to be at the top of, can use consistently and will actively engage in going forwards? For most of us, this will be peasants or knights to gain some traction as we build our following.

Step Two – Choose The Thirty Instagram Hashtags You’ll Use

Now you have your list you need to do two things.

One, as I show you below, choose your hashtags to have the widest, deepest reach and the possibility of creating momentum (or going viral) within Instagram

And two, make the thirty hashtags relevant to your post and image EVERY TIME. This may mean swapping them out from time to time. The algorithm is super-sophisticated and will spot a copy ‘n’ paste list a mile off!

Ok, let’s balance out that list of hashtags. Ready?

Hashtags 1-10

Go for the Kings and Barons  – use the ones with the biggest reach like #history (31m +) #tbt (520m +) #hisoricalfiction (274k +)

Hashtags 11-20

These will be the hashtags you’ve chosen in step one to be super active in and try to get to the top. One of these should be your own blog title such as #smarthistoryblogging.

Hashtags 21-30

Taking them from all categories of the hashtag feudal system make these your emotive and engaging hashtags that closely relate to the aim of what you’re posting. This part is tricky so here are some examples.

  • #historynerd
  • #exploring
  • #rmagicplace
  • #bookwormproblems
  • #mustread
  • #mytruepassion
  • #sharingthoughts
  • #borntodoit

Step Three – Engage at the Right Time and Review

So, you’ve chosen your hashtags and you’re ready to mix ‘n’ mingle. Great!. The next piece in the process is to make sure you’re posting and using your hashtags at the right time. This is where schedulers can be very useful.

Now not everyone likes schedulers, some think they are impersonal, but they are time-savers.

Schedulers mean you can post right now, at a set date or at the best time based on their expert knowledge of the platform. And, they allow busy people, like us, to batch-work. That means we can be consistent with our social media posts for a week or a month and knowing it’s done (yah!) focus on other blogging tasks like writing fabulous posts.

What I also love about schedulers is that it doesn’t stop spontaneity but when you have a new post there is a quick to follow process to get it out there across multiple platforms at the right time from one place!

So, who do I use?

After much research (+ a little information overwhelm), I settled on Crowdfire as my social media scheduler. (I am not being paid to say this)

  • I use it for Twitter, Smart History Blogging Business Page, Pinterest and Instagram
  • Connecting my blog means it automatically generates social media posts to go with the new blog posts by platform. I just add in text and hashtags
  • It suggests articles on my subject area I can share with followers.

Schedulers can help you engage on Instagram

A scheduler doesn’t mean you can switch off from social media when your batching is done. A tool like Crowdfire will tell you when your posts have been published. Because it was the best time or when people are most active, this is your moment. Seize it! If time allows get online and comment and like within the hashtags where you want to dominate and most important respond to people commenting on your post. You’re more likely to get a conversation going if it’s real-time.

Top Tip. Watch if you choose the ‘best time’ option that your content is evergreen and remains relevant to that day. For example, if you trail and announcement at 9:00am, a scheduler may analyse that 11:30am is when people are most active.

Keep everything under review

At it’s most basic; your Instagram account should be growing. So, if hashtags are working for you then your numbers are going up.

Put the three-step process in place for at least a few weeks. If you feel something isn’t working then a bit like when you’re trying to work out a food allergy don’t change too much at a time otherwise you won’t know where the problem lies. If you have a business account you will get more detailed statistics on impressions and reach than a personal one.

Paid hashtag analyzing tools could accelerate the growth of your Instagram account (or so that’s what they claim) by giving you more analytical information to base your decision on.

They can get pretty pricey – some are $29 per month and seem to be aimed at major companies– but many offer a free search on their homepages.  But, as they are a business you only get very top-level limited information without paying.

One option is to work up your approach and the list of hashtags you want to go after first and then take advantage of a free 14-day trial. But, if you have to choose between paying for this or say an email-marketing provider the latter wins every time.

If you’re excited and ready to use a paid tool to tell you how to use Instagram hashtags, here’s a list of tools to help you of which Ritetag is the one I hear the most positive things about (just to let you know I am in no way affiliated with any of these).


To some learning how to use Instagram hashtags will be fun, to some reason enough to lie down in a darkened room. But, the reason we put all the effort into creating and curating posts is to reach people, to grow our followings and to send people to our latest blog post. No one wants to post and have little come back at them.

So, our brilliant, thoughtful history-filled efforts have to be as good as they can possibly be. And, if like me, you were not deploying a hashtag strategy, you’re missing an opportunity to shine.

I truly hope you find my process useful, get in touch and let me know your results or put WORKED FOR ME in the comments below.


Elizabeth Hill-Scott

Elizabeth Hill-Scott teaches entrepreneurs and bloggers who want to start, grow and monetise a successful niche blog in the fascinating field of history. She is also a post-graduate and communications expert who spent over 15 years advising senior UK politicians and public figures.