How to Use Instagram Hashtags to Grow Your School Account

Brendan Schneider
6 min readFeb 1, 2023
How to Use Instagram Hashtags to Grow Your School Account

If your school uses Instagram as a part of your social media strategy, you want families to see your posts! One of the best ways to get your Instagram content in front of more families is by using hashtags.

Instagram hashtags are still one of the best ways to build reach and engagement. And, you don’t have to spend a large budget to make it happen.

But how do you use hashtags for Instagram? How do you know the best ones to use? Which hashtags are trending? And should they go in your caption or in the comments?

In today’s blog post, I’ll discuss everything you need to get started with Instagram hashtags.

Why Instagram Hashtags are Important

Instagram hashtags are as important as they ever were. When you add a hashtag to an Instagram post, that post will be shown with other relevant posts on the hashtag search results page, which is a huge opportunity to be findable to relevant families who might be searching for what your school offers.

Hashtags are also useful to help the Instagram algorithm understand what your posts are about so they can categorize them correctly, sort of like adding a label to a filing system.

This helps your posts be displayed on relevant Instagram explore pages, which is another way to help your Instagram account grow.

Considering their importance, it’s worth putting some time and effort into developing a hashtag strategy for your school.

How to Develop a Successful Instagram Hashtag Strategy

Using hashtags with your posts will help skyrocket your engagement during the first few days when Instagram is categorizing and evaluating your post. These first few days are called the “micro-test phase”. Because of this categorization, everyone on Instagram — not just your followers — has access to your post.

Think of Instagram hashtags like highly trafficked museums, where each hashtag is its own museum, where people can go and browse the artwork (posts) within each museum.

When you categorize your post with #privateschool (as an example), it’s like nailing a picture of a private school in the “private school” art gallery. And there’s always hundreds of people in that art gallery, interested in looking at pictures related to private schools.

Each museum ranks all artwork based on their popularity, according to the engagement each art piece receives, and will display only the best and most popular art pieces.

In the same way, the Instagram algorithm will categorize and show the best and most popular posts first within each hashtag category.

Most schools use Instagram hashtags incorrectly; if you learn to use them right, your posts can soar!

The number one mistake schools make is going for the most popular hashtag, also called the “king” hashtags. For example, #food and #school are examples of king hashtags. Here are the number of posts for each of these king hashtags:

  • #food — 493,430,765
  • #school — 50,618,778

As you can imagine, it is nearly impossible to compete with these types of hashtags. It’s almost like hanging your artwork in the Louvre and competing for views against the Mona Lisa. Your artwork will end up gathering dust in the back storage area. You just can’t get views and engagement going against these very popular hashtags.

So how can we combat this challenge?

How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Account

The way we address this problem is to start, like in the art world, by aiming for local art exhibitions and slowly build up to more recognized galleries. And, the cool thing is, you will build up as you rank the highest in the smaller “galleries”.

You can actually really skyrocket your account with this strategy because, once you are ranking and competing with king (or queen) hashtags, it only takes one post to be seen by lots of people. When you have the power to do that with every post, your account is going to take off.

This is why we want to start with less popular hashtags. Even though fewer people will be viewing your posts, your post will be the main exhibit. In this way, your post will actually draw more attention and engagement, especially during the micro-test phase. And then, you can start to use more and more popular hashtags as your account grows.

Finding Which Instagram Hashtags to Use

Finding which hashtags to use within your niche is very easy!

  • Start with king hashtags, then look at the suggestions

Within Instagram, go to the search bar and type in “school”.

King hashtag — #school

Lesser hashtags — #schoolchoice, #schooldays, #schoolday, #schoolevent, #schoollunch, #schoolsupplies, #schoolcounselor, #privateschool, #schoolbag, #schoollove, #schooltrip, #schoolproject, #schooldance, etc.

Look for hashtags based on where you are in terms of growing your Instagram presence.

  • Look at competitor accounts

Look for other schools that offer similar programs and are roughly your size. This will give you ideas on what hashtags to research.

  • Use hashtag keyword apps

Instagram hashtag keyword apps tend to come and go in the social media world, so the best way to find one is to go to your iPhone Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search for “Instagram hashtags”. You can also look for Instagram hashtag generators using your laptop. Look at different tools to see which one works best for you.

  • A general rule of thumb

Here is a general rule of thumb in terms of where to begin with your hashtags.

  • If you have >10K followers — start with 5,000–150,000 posts
  • If you have >10K — 50K followers — start with 5,000–2M posts
  • If you have <50K followers — start with 2M posts and keep building
  • A basic Instagram hashtag strategy looks like this:
  • Level 1 — Choose low competition hashtag
  • Level 2 — Rank at the top of that hashtag
  • Level 3 — Be discovered by more people
  • Level 4 — Get more engagement on posts
  • Level 5 — Choose higher competition hashtag
  • Keep leveling up

How Many Hashtags Should You Use in a Post?

The number of hashtags that should be used on Instagram posts has generated much debate on social media over the years.

Should you only use a few choice hashtags? The full 30 hashtags Instagram allows? Somewhere in between?

In the past, most social media marketers recommended using the full 30 hashtags on every post, reasoning this would garner the most views and engagement.

But recently, in a post from Instagram’s own @creatorsaccount, Instagram is recommending users should use between 3 and 5 hashtags. This was a big surprise, especially since earlier in the year they recommended 8–15 hashtags per post.

The reasoning they gave is that fewer hashtags will give you a more focused identity for the algorithm and using too many hashtags can confuse the algorithm.

Remember, it’s all about the algorithm!

One thing you can do to determine what works best for your school is to create a list of hashtags and then rotate them on a daily basis so you’re only publishing 3–5 on any given day. You can also try increasing the number to see if it helps — or hinders — your reach.

How to Hide Your Hashtag Lists

Basically, there are two camps of how to display your hashtags. Publishers have long realized typing your hashtags in your description right after your text is distracting and even confusing for some followers.

There are two ways you can “hide” your hashtags.

In Your Caption

To make a caption less busy, you can add an ellipsis (a series of dots or symbols) after your text so they’re hidden under the “More” button. Just don’t be careful not to include an extra space at the end of your sentences or after each ellipsis. If you do, it will cancel out the line break and ruin the intended effect.

In the First Comment

Including your hashtags in the first comment is a simple way to hide them on Instagram. Most social media schedulers will let you do this when you are scheduling your posts.

Keep in mind hashtags work the same way if they are used in the caption or comments, so determine which method works best for your school.

Final Thoughts

Hashtags are still useful for growing your Instagram account. Finding the right hashtags will require some research and an understanding of how Instagram works. Search for trending hashtags in correlation with the number of followers you have, and don’t forget to hide your hashtags to make them easier to read.

Do you use Instagram hashtags? Have they helped you grow your account? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

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Brendan Schneider

Brendan is the Founder of SchneiderB Media, a digital marketing agency for schools, and the MarCom Society, a community for MarCom professionals at schools.