How I Convinced 1000 People to Use My Instagram Hashtag

Published on:
Pug on a bed and cutest chonks hashtag by GradSimple.

I’m no trendsetter, but I AM the proud parent of a niche hashtag that has over a thousand uses on Instagram. And this all happened in the span of 3 months. 

If you don’t have the clout of an influencer or big brand, you know how hard it is to get someone to like your posts, share, or in my case, use a hashtag. And if you don’t know, well, take my word for it. It’s VERY hard.

In the thick of the pandemic, I started an e-commerce business with Grace, selling dog products (specifically dog beds, of all things). Why, you may ask? Good question. At the time, I didn’t own a dog, never grew up with one, and knew nothing about them.

Let’s Start A Dog Instagram Account

Anyway, I thought of the idea to create a third-party Instagram account that could drive organic traffic to our store’s official page @sweetpuppytoys (which no longer exists). 

The plan was to get people to use our hashtag for a chance to get their dogs featured. This way, instead of us having to worry about creating original content, our audience could do the heavy lifting.

A stroke of brilliance, I thought. I wanted a name that was cute, relevant to dogs (duh), and easy to remember. I also wanted a name that could double as a marketing hashtag. 

On Feb 28, 2020, a Friday, I decided on the handle @cutestchonks. 

A Hashtag was born

When I created the account, #cutestchonks didn’t exist.

To gain traction, Grace and I took turns going through different hashtags like #dogsofinstagram, #corgi, #puppyoftheday and interacting with recent posts. We did this for hours a day, in shifts, and always to the limit (we got soft banned multiple times #grindset). 

Initially, things were slow. It’s no small task getting random strangers on the internet to click on your profile. It’s even harder to convince someone to use a hashtag for your nobody account – why should they care? Who am I, the Queen of England? The Pope? Beyonce?

Things weren’t looking good

So we started trolling the internet for royalty-free, HD pictures of puppies to post. We were trying to be good little rule followers, but it wasn’t long before we realized that’s just not how you win.

15 posts later, we got our first #. A random person on the internet made the conscious decision to use #cutestchonks. Huzzah!

From there, more and more people started using it. We were getting DMs for features, and at one point, we were getting hundreds, sometimes even thousands of likes and views per post. 

From a business perspective, although we were gaining traction (vanity metrics), featuring more and more dogs, we weren’t making any sales. And so as quickly as it started, we made the decision to pivot to another niche, and I stopped running the account on May 31, 2020, just 3 months after launch. 

But while the store itself was a miserable failure, and @cutestchonks has long since been abandoned, #cutestchonks still exists today, with over 1000 posts!

If you ever hear someone use the phrase “cutest chonks”, who knows, maybe I had a role in that. Probably not, but maybe?

Share This Post
Photo of author
The human who runs the ship. Occasional writer, occasional web developer. Yes, this is the guy who hired a raccoon (if you know, you know).

Latest Posts

Bite-Size Stories Of Life After College.

We show what life is like on the other side. One year, three years, ten years out: our interviews share what really goes on after you're handed your diploma. The best part? It’s all free.