Hashtag following on Instagram: Which your brand should follow (and how to find them)

In case you missed it, Instagram added the ability to follow hashtags just before the holidays last year.

So, how does hashtag following on Instagram affect brands? How does it work? You can get the full details in this post from The Verge, but basically now in your feed alongside the accounts you follow are updates from any hashtags that you choose to follow.

We break down which hashtags brands should be following plus how to surface those hashtags.

Got questions or something we missed? Find us on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

The hashtags your brand should be following

There are several criteria to consider when you decide which hashtags your brand should follow. (Also keep in mind through this whole piece that you can always try out following a hashtag and unfollow it later if it isn’t valuable or becomes overwhelming and floods your feed—  but more on that in a moment.)

First, it’s important to understand that you won’t be seeing every single post from a hashtag; from popular hashtags that run in the millions of posts per day that would obviously quickly overrun your feed. Instagram instead selects a few posts from each hashtag you choose to follow and then you can like or comment on them- showing that you like the content- or click to let Instagram know you don’t want to see similar content. Over time this will train it to show you more of the kind of content you want to see and less of everything else.

How do brands find the right hashtags to follow? Some have probably already sprung to mind because you use them on your own posts.

But start with these criteria and look at the general search results, then follow a few to see what you get out of them in your feed:

  • Industry-relevant hashtags: Some of these are the ones you’re probably already using on your own posts
  • Branded hashtags: Definitely follow any branded hashtags you use so you can see what fans and followers are posting to them
  • Competitor hashtags: A clever new way to keep an eye on the competition!
  • Influencer hashtags: Get ideas for your own content, for collaboration with them, and more.
  • Hashtags that aren’t related to your industry or brand but that source creative content for you to get inspired by

Other factors to consider

When deciding which hashtags to follow, keep the following in mind:

  • How noisy the hashtag is: If it’s a hashtag with multiple meanings, how much time do you want to spend teaching the Instagram algorithm which meaning it is that you’re interested in? (as The Verge noted, #cougar can have two very different meanings)
  • How often you check your feed: If you don’t do a lot of scrolling and liking, it might be easier to just stick to the Explore page when you have time
  • How you want to use this feature: It’s a great way to source new accounts to follow in your industry as well as identify new and upcoming influencers and more

How to get started

From Instagram’s Help Center:

  • Tap any hashtag (example: #flower) you see on Instagram.
  • Tap Follow. Once you follow a hashtag, you’ll see its photos and videos appear in places like stories, feed and in the Following section of your profile.

To unfollow that same hashtag, tap following again.

Pick a few to start following and see what you get out of it. If those hashtags aren’t doing much for you after a few days, try a few different ones. Keep experimenting!

And if you need help measuring your own efforts on Instagram, we can always help with that. Start with our free Instagram account checkup below.

Want more engagement on Instagram? Our checkup analyzes the last 30 days of posts, likes and comments on your account to quickly give you key insights into how to improve.

Free checkup