• Matthew Hood

How we tripled Instagram engagement with a hashtag strategy

We helped @thepineapplepeople triple their Instagram post engagement after implementing a hashtag strategy. We were surprised by how simple and effective it was. We’ll share with you the results and strategies so you can implement it yourself.

It’s no secret that engagement on social media is what you’re after in 2018. Pages with tens and thousands of followers but only a few hundred likes per post stand out like dogs’ balls for having bought their followers or accounts. And at the end of the day, building trust and authentic relationships with your audience through engagement is what leads to sales.

The Results

The Pineapple People make and sell body surfing handplanes. They post quality body surfing images on their Instagram page, which has over 2k followers.

Comparing the last 9 posts before using the hashtag strategy to the latest 9 posts where the strategy was used, we increased their engagement (likes and comments) from an average of 290 to 885. We more than tripled the engagement on their posts by spending about 30 minutes researching a strategy and finding the right hashtags to use.

One photo in particular reached 14.6k accounts. The greatest reach of a post from the non-hashtag-9 was 1.5k.

It’s important to note that they didn’t start posting better photos or suddenly acquire a heap of new followers to boost engagement. Also the 9 posts before the hashtag strategy was implemented, hashtags were still used, but clearly not as well.

The 10/10/10 Hashtag Strategy

Instagram only lets you use 30 hashtags per post, and you may as well use them all. Each one is just another chance of reaching more eyes.

In the past we were using hashtags that were too big, each with millions of posts. The 10/10/10 strategy focuses on winning at smaller hashtags, and if successful appearing in larger hashtags popular posts section.

Research and find 8-10 hashtags relevant to your account that have 10-50k posts. For @thepineapplepeople we used hashtags like #bodysurfer, #handsurf and #surfingworld. Then find 8-10 medium hashtags with 50-200K posts like #bodysurf, #surfphotos and #wavephotography. And finally, 8-10 large hashtags like #waveporn, #instasurf and #shorebreak.


Use the tags section of Instagram’s explore page to find hashtags by searching for keywords that are relevant to your business. If you run a Pilates studio, search ‘pilates’. If it’s a construction company, search ‘construction’. It’s okay to be general, Instagram will then show you similar hashtag suggestions based on what you searched. Use these to build your list.

It’s a good idea to leave room for some massive hashtags with 2M+ posts like #surf and #beachlife. These kinds of hashtags have bulk eyes on them so it’s a good way to show up on the hashtag’s recent posts and get some early initial engagement, which will boost your post’s reach.

It’s also an idea to leave a bit of room for post specific hashtags like the location and about the content you are posting. This is a more practical tip for pages who post different kinds of photos and videos. The Pineapple People’s content is all very similar - bodysurfing beaut waves - so we use the same 30 every time.

Hide your hashtags in the first comment rather than at the end of your caption. It looks much cleaner.

The Wrap

The 10/10/10 hashtag strategy isn’t a hack to getting more engagement if you are posting crappy photos and videos. It allows good content to reach more eyes than it otherwise would. Try it out. Play around with it and see what hashtags works for your page.