Instagram hashtags can improve or improve your Instagram strategy. When used properly, your posts will be seen by more people who are likely to be interested in your product or brand.

However, if you use the wrong thing, you can actually do damage by annoying potential followers and being punished by the Instagram algorithm.

To use hashtags for Instagram effectively, you need to understand exactly how they work and make some strategy considerations.

You are exactly right here.

Bonus: Download a free checklist This shows the exact steps with which a lifestyle photographer on Instagram has grown from 0 to 600,000 followers, without a budget and without expensive equipment.

Everything you need to know about Instagram hashtags in 2020

What are Instagram hashtags?

A hashtag is a combination of letters, numbers and / or emoji preceded by the # symbol (e.g. #NoFilter). They are used to categorize content and make it more recognizable.

Hashtags can be clicked. Anyone who clicks on an Instagram hashtag or does an Instagram hashtag search will see a page with all the posts tagged with that hashtag.

Why use Instagram hashtags?

Hashtags are an important way to expand your Instagram audience. If you use a hashtag, your post will appear on the page for that hashtag. If you use a hashtag for your story, it can be included in the corresponding hashtag story, which is also displayed on the hashtag page.

Users can also choose to follow hashtags. This means that they can see your hashtagged post in their feed, even if they don't (yet) follow you.

Instagram hashtags can be a great way to build an online community so that people are motivated to engage with your brand. For example, when the way people train suddenly changed in 2020, Nike Los Angeles used the hashtag #playinside to show local people getting active in their homes.

Types of popular Instagram hashtags

Instagram divides hashtags into nine different types:

  • Product or service hashtags: These are basic keywords used to describe your product or service, e.g. B. #handbag or #divebar
  • Niche hashtags: These become a little more specific and show where you fit into the context of your industry, such as: B. #travelblogger or #foodblogger
  • Industry Instagram Community Hashtags: There are communities on Instagram. With these hashtags, you can find them and join them. Think of #GartenerinInstagram or #Craftersofinstgram
  • Special events or seasonal hashtags: These can refer to real holidays or seasons like #summer days or can be used for all holidays on National (Thing) Day like #nationalicecreamday or #nationalnailpolishday
  • Location hashtags: Even if you geo-tag your Instagram post, it can be a good idea to include a hashtag related to your location, e.g. B. #vancouvercraftbeer or #londoneats
  • Daily hashtags: Every day has many hashtags, from #MondayBlues to #SundayFunday. We've created a whole list of daily hashtags for you to choose from when you're looking for a simple source of hashtags to add to your posts.
  • Relevant phrase hashtags: These hashtags combine elements of product hashtags, niche hashtags and community hashtags. Basically, these are expressions that are used on Instagram to create a slightly insider-like connection to existing communities, e.g. B. #amwriting or #shewhowanders
  • Acronym Hashtags: Perhaps the best known acronym hashtag is #TBT for Throwback Thursday. Other popular acronym hashtags are #OOTD for the outfit of the day, #FBF for Flashback Friday, and #YOLO for life only once.
  • Emoji hashtags: these hashtags can be used like # ???? or words or phrases with attached emojis like #sunglasses ???? contain.

Brand hashtags are another great option for businesses on Instagram. We'll cover that later in this post.

How many hashtags on Instagram should be used?

You can add up to 30 hashtags to a regular post and up to 10 hashtags to a story. If you try to record more, your comment or caption will not be published.

Just because you can use so many hashtags for Instagram doesn't mean you should. There is no correct number of hashtags for every company or even for every contribution from the same company.

The consensus is that around 11 hashtags are a good number to start with. However, the most common number of hashtags on Instagram is between 1 and 3.

You need to do some testing to determine what works best for your business.

How to hide hashtags on Instagram

If you've spent time creating a great Instagram caption, you may not want to end your post with a prominent collection of hashtags. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make your hashtags less visible.

How to hide Instagram hashtags in a comment:

  1. Write your caption as you normally would, but don't add hashtags.
  2. Once your post is published, simply click the speech bubble icon below your post to leave a comment.
  3. Write out or paste the hashtags you want to include in the comment box and tap Post.
  4. On mobile devices, your hashtags are only shown when a user taps Show all comments. However, on the desktop, your comment remains at the top, so this trick works better when you target a mobile audience.

Screenshot that shows how Instagram hashtags are hidden in the comment section
Source: VW on Instagram

To hide Instagram hashtags in the caption:

You can also use hashtags in the label itself, without them being clearly visible.

  1. Tap Back or Enter at the bottom of your label. If you don't see a return or enter key, tap 123 to bring it up.
  2. Enter a punctuation mark (try a period, ball, or hyphen) and press Enter again.
  3. Repeat steps 2 through 4 at least three times.
  4. Instagram hides subtitles after three lines, so your hashtags can only be displayed if your followers tap … more. Even then, your hashtags are visually separated from your caption so they don't distract from your copy.

How to hide subtitles on Instagram stories:

You can also hide hashtags in Instagram stories. One way is simply to minimize the appearance of your hashtags by pinching and shrinking them to make them quite small. You can also tap the hashtag sticker to change it from a white background to a semi-transparent one.

If you want to completely hide your hashtags, you can put an emoji, sticker, or GIF over them to hide them.

Screenshot that shows how hashtags are hidden in Instagram stories
Source: Christina Newberry

How to find trend hashtags on Instagram

Unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn't publish a list of trend hashtags. However, if you search for a hashtag on Instagram, you'll see how many posts use that hashtag. You'll also see a list of other popular Instagram hashtags with similar words, including the number of posts.

Screenshot shows how to find and search trend hashtags on Instagram
Source: Instagram

To search for a hashtag on the desktop, enter the hashtag with the # symbol in the search field. Enter your search term in the search field on your mobile phone and then tap on Tags.

If you pay attention to your Instagram feed, you will learn to quickly recognize trend hashtags when they appear. However, don't be too quick to jump on a trend. Only post with a trend hashtag if this really makes sense for your company and the specific content of your contribution.

How to search multiple hashtags on Instagram

The easiest way to search multiple hashtags on Instagram is to set up search streams in a social listening tool like Hootsuite to keep track of the hashtags you're interested in so you can see all relevant content on one screen without everyone as an individual Instagram hashtag search.

Screenshot shows how to search for multiple hashtags on Instagram
Source: Hootsuite

Instagram company profiles can perform up to 30 unique hashtag searches over a seven-day period.

Find more information about setting up search streams here so you can easily track multiple Instagram hashtags in one dashboard.

We wrote a full post on the benefits of social listening if you want to take a closer look at how it works.

Top Instagram hashtags

As of June 1st, 2020, these are the 25 best hashtags on Instagram:

  1. #love (1,824B posts)
  2. #instagood (1,143B posts)
  3. #fashion (807.1M posts)
  4. #photooftheday (792.4 million posts)
  5. #beautiful (657.4 million posts)
  6. #art (643.6 million posts)
  7. #happy (576.9 million posts)
  8. #photography (575.9M posts)
  9. #picoftheday (569.4 million posts)
  10. #cute (564.9 million posts)
  11. #follow (557.8 million posts)
  12. #tbt (534.5 million posts)
  13. #followme (526.4 million posts)
  14. #nature (520.7 million posts)
  15. # like4like (515.0 million posts)
  16. #travel (494.6 million posts)
  17. #instagram (475.6 million posts)
  18. #repost (469.1 million posts)
  19. #style (469.0M posts)
  20. #summer (452.4 million posts)
  21. #instadaily (439.5 million posts)
  22. #selfie (421.8 million posts)
  23. #me (420.0 million posts)
  24. #friends (395.8 million posts)
  25. #fitness (393.8 million posts)

Keep in mind that the most popular Instagram hashtags aren't necessarily the most effective.

A large number of posts can mean that a lot of people follow this hashtag, but it also means that there is a lot of content on it and your posts may be lost. Instagram suggests using a combination of popular and niche hashtags to reach different audiences, from broad to specific.

Instagram hashtag search: how to find the best hashtags for Instagram for your brand

Check out the competition

You don't necessarily want to model your competitor's strategy too closely, but looking at the hashtags used will give you some good pointers on what works for others in your industry.

You may discover new hashtags that you can add to your repertoire. Or you could decide that you don't want to compete for the same eyeballs. In this case, you can look for alternative hashtags that you can use.

See which hashtags your audience is already using

If your audience is already using a particular hashtag, other people like you are likely to use it too. Finding these existing Instagram communities is a great way to expand your audience and reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your business.

Keep an eye on your top followers and see which hashtags they use. Instagram's search tool can give you additional information about what hashtags interest the people you're following. When you do an Instagram hashtag search, the search tool shows you whether someone you are following is also following this hashtag. (Note that this only works on mobile devices, not on desktops.)

Screenshot with related hashtags for a specific hashtag search
Source: Instagram

Use the Instagram related hashtags feature

On each hashtag page, just above the "Top" and "Recent" tabs, you'll find a list of related hashtags that you can scroll through by swiping left.

Instagram-related hashtag function
Source: Instagram

This is a great way to find relevant hashtags, which may be a little more niche than the big keyword-based hashtags you were looking for originally. That means a more targeted audience with less content to compete with. These can be some of the best hashtags for Instagram brands looking to connect with passionate communities.

Create a brand hashtag

The best hashtag for your brand may be one you create yourself. A brand hashtag is simply a tag that you create to promote your own brand or campaign.

You can then let your audience know about your hashtag by including it in your Instagram bio and highlighting it in your subtitles and Instagram stories. You can also compete with a brand hashtag to promote the hashtag while collecting user-generated content.

Lululemon's brand hashtag in the Instagram bio section
Source: Lululemon on Instagram

Track your brand hashtag in both the Instagram app and a stream on your social media dashboard so you can monitor how it's being used. Look for ways to reshare great content or connect with influential members of your audience.

To follow a hashtag in Instagram, just tap it and then tap the blue Follow button on the hashtag page.

Follow the Instagram hashtag button
Source: Instagram

How to use hashtags on Instagram – 7 tips and tricks

1. Use Insights to determine which tags work best

If you've switched to an Instagram company profile, you'll have access to post-insights that show how many impressions you received from hashtags.

  1. Select the post for which you want data and tap View insights under the post on the left.
  2. Swipe up to see all the insights for this post, including the number of impressions of hashtags.

https://blog.hootsuite.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Instagram-hashtag-analytics-310×551.jpg

You can use this data to find out which hashtags are most effective for increasing reach.

2. Insert hashtags in Instagram stories

Hashtag pages have an Instagram Story icon in the top left corner. Click on it and you will see a collection of stories posts that have the hashtag of people with public profiles.

Instagram hashtags that appear in stories
Source: Instagram

There are two ways to add hashtags to your stories. The first method is to use the hashtag label.

Hashtag stickers on Instagram stories
Source: Instagram

Or you can simply use the text tool and the # symbol to enter the hashtag like you would on a photo or video post.

3. Avoid prohibited hashtags and spam hashtags

If inappropriate content is linked to a hashtag, Instagram can prohibit this hashtag.

This does not mean that you cannot use it at all. Instead, it means that you only see the best posts when you click the tag. You will not see any current posts and no stories will be linked to the hashtag.

Here's what it looks like when you come across a blocked hashtag:

Forbidden hashtags on Instagram
Source: Instagram

The only way to determine if a hashtag is locked is to check it before you use it. This is a good practice to use every time you add a new hashtag to your repertoire. Using blocked hashtags can decrease engagement, since using legitimate hashtags may also be less effective because they may be deleted in the algorithm.

Even if they are not prohibited, you should avoid hashtags that shamelessly ask for likes and followers. Examples are #followme, # like4like, # follow4follow, #tagsforlikes and so on.

If you use them, you will attract bots, spammers and other users who do not intend to contact you in any meaningful way. They also show your followers that your brand agrees with spam behavior. And that doesn't look good.

4. Understand how hashtag pages work

Hashtag pages are a great way to make your content accessible to a new audience, especially if they can be featured in the top section.

Hashtag pages display the entire content of a specific hashtag. When someone searches for a post and your post is the most up-to-date with this hashtag, it will appear first in the "Recently Used" section.

Of course, it's much easier to stay at the top of the "New" section for a less popular or really niche hashtag.

Note that the "Recently Used" section is sorted by when each post was originally approved. Adding hashtags later, either through a comment or by editing the caption, will not bring your post up to date.

5. Do not use irrelevant or repeating hashtags

It might be tempting to just copy and paste the same long list of hashtags into every post, but don't. Instagram's community guidelines clearly state that posting repetitive comments or content is out of order. If you use the same hashtags for every post, your content will be penalized by the algorithm.

Use only sensible hashtags when creating a post. For example, if you tag a post with #wanderlust, your content must be something that Globetrotter would like to comment on, like, and share.

It's not about being seen by many people, it's about being seen by the right people. So hashtags lead to more engagement and more followers. Choose the right keywords for each post individually.

6. Make sure that hashtag means what you think it means

Hashtags are often a series of words that stick together. This can cause problems if it is not clear where one word ends and the next begins.

One of the worst examples of this was the fiasco #susanalbumparty from 2012. It was a hashtag to kick off Susan Boyle's new album. But read it slowly and you could pick up a few words in the middle that clearly make the hashtag a bit … problematic.

Amazon played with this type of hashtag bug to promote Top Gear. This was done on purpose, but it would be a slight mistake to combine an possessive "s" and the word "accidentally hit".

Brands are sometimes too keen to jump on a trend hashtag without fully understanding the context. If the context is challenging, it can lead to a PR disaster for the brand.

And sometimes a brand doesn't check whether a hashtag is already used before an entire campaign is created. Burger King was to blame in 2013 when they used the hashtag #WTFF to mean "What The French Fry".

Since you already know what WTF stands for, you can probably guess why this was a problem.

7. Save hashtags for future use

If you use the same hashtags frequently, you can save them in a note to reduce the time it takes to enter them again.

Wait, didn't we just tell you not to use the same hashtags for every post? It's true – you shouldn't overuse the same hashtags. Still, it is still very useful to have a list of hashtags that are relevant to the different types of content you post. You can even create separate lists of hashtags that are relevant to the different types of posts you create.

Simply create a list of hashtags in your Notes app that you can add to your posts.

You can then choose a few hashtags to use each time instead of remembering the hashtags or having to search for new ones for each post. This way you also have the time to find out what kind of content is already published for these hashtags so that you do not make any of the above mistakes.

Keep in mind that each of the Instagram hashtags you use for a post must match the content and not be repeated too often. Don't copy and paste your entire saved list into every post.

Manage your entire Instagram presence and save time with Hootsuite. Schedule posts, find the best hashtags, easily engage the audience, measure performance, and more. Try it for free today.

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