Shop Talk

The Artists Guide to Using Hashtags on Instagram

One of the most consistent and powerful features on social media are hashtags. Designed to group social media posts by interest, these helpful little linky bits are so popular they’re now used in everyday conversations. For artists, social media offers a chance to connect with fans and share your work with a wider audience. While we’re all very familiar with hashtags, Instagram recently added the feature to follow hashtags, so we wanted to take a deeper look at how they can help being your social media game to new levels of awesome. #Sweet.

Finding Your Tags

The first thing you want to do is research and find specific tags relevant to you. It may seem like a good idea to use as many popular hashtags per post as you can find regardless of content, but this can actually harm your efforts. Imagine walking into a donut shop and finding all they offer is juice, which isn’t a bad thing, but you were really interested in those donuts. #WeFeelYou. Fans using hashtags to search social media also have a goal, and that’s to find content related to their interests.

Using the Instagram website, search for art related tags and come up with a solid list of popular and niche tags that you can draw from. Ideally you want to aim for 10-15 tags per post, and focusing on variety and relevancy will be a big help. With super popular tags your posts won’t be easy to find in search results, whereas niche tags are not updated as frequently giving your posts more time to remain visible. Fans looking for that one specific thing will find your posts much easier. Think of tags like a trail of breadcrumbs that are leading your ideal fans right to you.

(Example tags: #brains, #anatomyart, #funnyillustration)

(Example tags: #selfieart, #digitalpaintings, #digitalartworks)

Putting Tags to Use

Now that you have a good list of tags, save them in a notepad, this way you can easily access them and keep track. Ideally, you want to switch your tags up and keep them fresh and relevant. Certain tags may become popular, and if that tag has 30 million results it won’t help your efforts as much as before. If this happens, keep up with new and trending tags and add them to your list. It takes more work, but the tags in your posts should always fit the content. It’s not recommended to just cut and paste the same tags. Now that fans can follow hashtags make sure they are tailored for your post, especially if you’re encouraging them to follow a specific tag.

Tags can be added to the main text of the post, or even in the comments if you want your post to look cleaner. If it’s a special tag, consider using it in the text area such as: “Created a new illustration for #NewYears, now time to get some dinner #Pizzaforlife”. Doing this will help get the main tags related to your content in front of the viewer.

Hashtag Best Practices

While hashtags can be a positive tool for social media content, they can also be abused.  Make sure your hashtags work for you and not against you and keep these tips in mind:

  1. Don’t use too many hashtags, 10-15 is recommended. The limit for hashtags is 30, but if you use too many your post will be collapsed not allowing fans to see what you wrote.
  2. Use a variety of tags. A few tags with a million results, some in the 100’s of thousands, and more niche tags. Also, avoid generic tags that may describe the art your posting but don’t reference that it’s about art, especially if the generic tag has too many results. For example, use #blueart instead of #blue.
  3. Use your name/username as a hashtag. This not only helps fans to find more of your work, but with the latest update of Instagram, fans can now follow hashtags. Encourage your fans to follow your hashtag and since it’s all about your work, they’ll see more of your latest updates. #Boom.

(Example tags: #illustrationart, #beardrawing, #bookart)

Follow us on Instagram for more tips and tricks.

(Header Art: Life in a Bubble by irshai)

View additional posts by Josh


Art historian, burrito enthusiast, and Email Marketing Specialist here at Redbubble.