A hashtag is a way of categorizing content on Instagram to make it discoverable to the whole platform. Why are they so important? WordStream tells us that Instagram posts using hashtags gain at least a 12.6% increase in engagement compared to those without hashtags. The right hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t followed you or connected with you before. Users can discover content by actually searching hashtags to find content that is interesting to them.
According to Udemy, hashtags are like highly trafficked museums. Each one is its own art gallery. People can go to these galleries and view and explore the content there. The museum ranks all artwork based on its popularity (engagement), and will display only the best and most popular artwork.
A lot of people use hashtags incorrectly, but if you learn how to use them it can really help engagement on your posts. The biggest mistake is using the really, really popular ones. Instead you should rank (by number of posts) the highest hashtag within your niche, start with lower ranked hashtags, rank at the top of those and slowly build up to the more popular ones.
Search the really popular hashtags for your niche, then look at the suggested ones Instagram gives you. Look to see how many posts each of them has and start with the less popular ones in the beginning. Remember you are going to work your way up! You can also look at your competitors hashtags and research those. Finally you can use hashtag apps. These can help you figure out which ones will be best for your niche.