There are 5 signals that Instagram typically uses when determining how to rank their content. If your content is sending out the right signals to Instagram via engagement and time spent, your content will be suggested to more people via 4 main traffic sources: explore, top posts on hashtag pages, hashtags people follow, and suggested posts in the home feed.
Beyond friends and family, 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers. Same with likes, when people see tons of likes on a post, they think it’s more secure or legit. In reality, the poster just may have a really high quality picture or content.
The best way for you to get new followers will always be by referral (aka people sharing your posts with their followers or friends). Commenting on other posts as well may help increase your chance of being seen and in return also getting comments.
Spend less time on hashtag research & more time creating the best possible content for your followers. That will ultimately lead your followers to save your post and get you more reach.
4. Tapping through to your profile
This can result in more reach from hashtags. When your posts start performing well in hashtag categories like recent posts or followed hashtags, Instagrams algorithm will suggest it to more people and boost it to it’s top posts.
5. MOST IMPORTANTLY - TIME SPENT
Hashtags are a tool Instagram uses to CATEGORIZE your content, but the only way the hashtags will result in more reach or viewership is if people engage with the content let Instagram know that it’s high-value.