Remember when this funny little symbol was only meant for the telephone, or a tic-tac-toe board? Did you know that learning to use this effectively can boost traffic to your page which will lead to more sales? You didn't? Well, read on!
What is a hashtag?
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Thanks to the world of Twitter, and now many other social media outlets, the former lowly pound symbol has been transformed into the hashtag. Its a way to identify posts that share a common theme or concept. Hashtags are useful and when used properly they can increase your likes, comments, and followers.On Instagram I'll be honest I've been led down the rabbit hole of hashtags and gotten lost scrolling a time or two so they are definitely a tool to utilize. 
How is the Hashtag helpful?
Let's say you have 5,000 followers on your Instagram page. You're an aspiring chef/caterer . You set a goal to increase the likes and followers on your page so that in the future you'll have a clientele for your catering business. You take the time to create gorgeous photos for the 'Gram and post away with a great caption but no hashtags. You receive 30 likes. Considering the number of followers you have that could be a bit discouraging. Here is where the power of the Hashtag comes into play. 
Hashtags give you the opportunity to open your audience up to anyone who may be looking for your services or picture type. In the chef's case he would want to focus on tags that aren't oversaturated and generic.
Popular tags are just that, popular, and its easy to get lost among all the other tags. A good way to test this is using a tag such as #food. No sooner than its posted, if you refresh it every new pic has been pushed down. 
What are effective tags to use for your brand/business?
The best tags will vary based on what audience you want to reach. It's always a good idea to have a designated tag for your business/brand, something that collects all of your business related photos together. Someone who may not follow you yet may come across the tag and be in interested in finding out more. With a collection of photos in the same tag, you have a chance to present a cohesive look into your brand. Secondly, if all of your post are not necessarily  business related it filters out the unneeded ones.
To determine which ones work best for your business/brand take some time to do Instagram research.
Sift through popular tags that are related to your brand, choose some that are popular but not overly so. 
Choose unique ones, and when all else fails create your own.
I hope this was helpful, and if you need help always feel free to get your business rated, and we can create strategies together.
Happy Brand Building,