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Instagram Hashtag Strategy: 2024 Updates

Updated: Jan 11

Less is more when it comes to the Instagram hashtag strategy in 2024.

Hashtags used to be the secret sauce to getting eyes on your Instagram posts but the old 'spray and pray' with a truckload of hashtags is going to cut it anymore.

In New Zealand, we're all about getting bang for our buck, and when it comes to hashtags, it's time to tighten up.

The 3-5 Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Instagram has officially recommended that users apply 3-5 hashtags per post. This strategy aligns with a broader shift towards value over volume. The reasons for this are:

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Instagram’s algorithm is increasingly sophisticated, prioritising relevance and engagement over the sheer number of hashtags.

  2. User Experience: A clutter of hashtags can dilute your message and turn off your audience, while a few well-chosen ones can enhance user engagement.

  3. Content Categorisation: With fewer hashtags, your content is more likely to be accurately categorized and displayed where it's most relevant, such as on the Explore Page or specific Reels categories.

Hashtags as Keywords For Instagram

Think of keywords as the new SEO tool for Instagram.

They are the signposts that guide users to your content amongst a sea of information. By selecting hashtags that are precise and targeted, you're effectively indexing your content for the right audience, much like optimizing a website for the right search queries on Google.

Selecting the Best Hashtags: Choosing the right hashtags is key to selecting the right keywords for SEO. Here are some tips to pick the best hashtags for your post:

1. Relevance: Choose hashtags that are directly related to the content you're posting.

E.g. if you’re showcasing local artisanal cheese, go for #NZCheese rather than just #Cheese.


Get specific – if it's a Gouda, say so with #GoudaCheese.

Connect with the locale? Tag it #NZFoodies.

The goal is to be as relevant and niche as possible – this isn't just casting a net, it's spearfishing for engagement. Use hashtags that have under 1 million posts

And this will change with every post.

One day you might be posting about Gouda so it will be 3-5 x hashtags like#GoudaCheese and the next day it might be a post about Tasty Cheese so it will be 3-5 x hashtags like #TastyCheese.

2. Under 1 Million: Use hashtags that have under 1 million posts.


Showing how to find hashtags to use on Instagram

Because hashtags with fewer posts mean less competition, increasing the chance that your content will stand out.

Think #NZCraftBeer over #Beer if you're a local brewpub. It's about finding that sweet spot where the hashtag is popular enough to be searched for, but not so saturated that your post drowns in the noise.

How do you do this? Use Instagram's search function to check the number of posts associated with a hashtag.

Type in a hashtag relevant to your content and see the post count.

Although you don't want to go too high, you also don't want to go too low. As a rule of thumb anything below 10,000 won't be getting the engagement traffic you are after.

3. Competitor Analysis:

Coffee Bean Hashtag example for Instagram

Competitor Analysis involves observing the hashtags that similar businesses in your field are using. By identifying these tags, you can decide which ones are resonating with your shared target audience.

For example, if you're a boutique coffee shop in Wellington, and you notice a competitor is gaining traction with #WellingtonCoffee, it's a sign that the hashtag is worth considering.

They might also be using tags like #SingleOriginNZ to highlight the quality of their beans, suggesting a community of coffee aficionados following this tag. By incorporating these into your own posts,

you can tap into an engaged audience and

enhance your visibility where it matters most.

4. Trending Tags: Staying current with trending hashtags can boost your content’s visibility, but relevance is key to engaging meaningfully with your audience.

For example, if #SustainableLiving is trending and your business deals with eco-friendly products, using this hashtag can connect you with users passionate about the environment.

But, hopping on a trending tag like #OscarsNight would be off-brand unless you're posting content related to film or a special event you hosted during the Oscars.

Always align hashtags with your content's core message to attract the right followers, not just any followers.


For 2024, the hashtag mantra is 'less is more'.

Gone are the days of hashtag heaping.

For small businesses aiming to make every post a strategic strike, it's about being smart and selective.

Harness the power of 3-5 potent hashtags.

Tailor them to echo your brand's voice.

And watch as they cut through the digital noise to hit your target audience.

Remember, it's not about the volume of hashtags but the value they bring to your posts. So, choose wisely, hashtag thoughtfully, and let's make those posts count where it matters!

And if you need some help, send us an email at info@letsmarket, we are always more than happy to help.

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