Understanding Hashtags — With Elise Michel

Hashtags are a great way to get noticed on Instagram (and Twitter). Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per posts, some put them in the original caption and other in the first comment under the photo. I personally prefer to post my comments in the comment below, it looks prettier on the account and doesn’t change the chances of getting featured for that specific hashtag. This gives you more opportunity for extra exposure and get likes. Many people will like photos that belong to certain hashtags.


First of all, make sure your hashtags are related to your audience. Some people think adding “#outfitoftheday” on their page will somehow bring some success, well it doesn’t. Start by posting hashtags who are not very popular, and look for hashtags who are more specific to your post : #morningcappuccino #100lbsquat . This will put your posts in hashtags with less competition, increasing your changes of being featured in the top-post section.

main factors for successful hashtag strategy ?

The Instagram (and Twitter) algorithm which determines hashtag success is as complicated as the google algorithm. The hashtag feed is mainly determined by the following factors :

  • The number of authority accounts liking/commenting on your posts : a 250k account liking your picture is worth more than one hundred 20 followers account liking your picture. When an authority account likes or comment you picture, the post get a much higher change of appearing in the explore feed of their followers.
  • Your own authority : the bigger your community (followers), the more chances you have of being a top hashtag .
  • If you have more than 50,000 followers, post less hashtags : when competing for hashtag top ranking, a post with 1–3 hashtags will have more chances

If you want to compete in the top hashtag section, you have to be competitive and push your content forward. You are more than likely to not be able to compete right away on a top hashtag, instead you should start with less competitive, smaller hashtags and work your way up. When you gained the reputation and pre-requisites in order to be competitive at the larger hashtags, you will reach your goals.


There are no perfect formula for hashtag picking, except following the blueprint above. I recommend you checking the hashtags within your industry and see what kind of accounts are in the top-hashtag position (followers/likes/comments). Pick hashtags you can compete on :

For Example, for my colleague @yacineherrliche, we were picking the hashtags for his coffee post. He was getting about 2000–3000 likes per picture on his posts so let’s see what we can do :

Understanding Hashtags  With Elise Michel

We checked a couple hashtags, and here is one : #morningcoffee . We notice after our quick analysis that :

  • The least engaged account had 186 likes — 3 comments.
  • The most engaged account has 3966 likes — 59 comments
  • The 3 top posts have 3500+ likes — 10+ comments

This means the following :

  • If your account has more than 186 likes / 3 comments per post, you are VERY LIKELY to rank for that hashtag.
  • If you account has more than 3500 likes per picture, you will be in the top 3 and get a lot of attention.

Don’t forget the quality of the post matters too, a post which doesn’t attract people will be removed quite fast from the top positions.

Now let’s see the results :

tutorial Hashtags  With Elise Michel

As we can see here, we have managed to rank top 1 on this hashtag. The post had about 2300 likes at the time we took that screenshot. Note the posts look different as in the picture above, but that’s because they refresh every couple of days. But the research still applies.

From being in this top hashtag position, the account @yacineherrliche gained :

  • about 500 new followers in the first 2 days
  • reached 6300 likes, an extra 4,000 likes just from being in top hashtag position
  • an extra 80 comments , just from being in top hashtag position

You can see the post on instagram, or just below :

Understanding Hashtags  With Elise Michel

Now you know how to research your hashtags and use them for maximum efficiency. I know a lot of people out there are super anxious about hashtags, so do not hesitate to ask your publicist at Elise Michel to help you out on that.