Way back in August of 2007, while you were singing along to “Umbrella” (ella…ella) on the radio, a product designer named Chris Messina proposed to Twitter the idea of “using #(pound) for groups.”
Twitter’s response? It was too nerdy and would never catch on.
Welp, 15 years later and hashtags are staples in social media platforms, especially on Twitt..erm…X, TikTok, and what we’ll be talking about today: Instagram.
Read on to learn how to harness the power of Instagram hashtags to grow your following, engage your audience, and build your brand.
IG hashtags 101
Best hashtag ideas
More hashtag ideas
Instagram hashtag best practices
A hashtag is a word, phrase, or acronym with the pound symbol (#) in front of it. On social media platforms like Instagram, if you tap or click on a hashtag, you’ll be shown all of the posts on that platform containing that hashtag.
This makes it easy for users to categorize their content and to find specific content in the vast sea of social posts.
Hashtags can be found on the most popular social media platforms, including:
While other social media platforms support hashtags, Instagram is one of the ones where hashtagging is the most important. Here are some of the many benefits of using Instagram hashtags.
There is an endless list of hashtag options to use on Instagram. But you can group most into these categories.
These are often super-broad, so they aren’t likely to bring in the most relevant engagement, but they can help you get exposure, nonetheless.
These hashtags emerge from current events, both one-time occurrences and events that repeat regularly.
Businesses often create hashtags unique to their name or a specific campaign to encourage engagement and user-generated content.
There are many popular hashtags used on Instagram built around every day of the week.
Community hashtags put the network in social network by letting people find others with the same interests.
Adding a hashtag on Instagram is literally as easy as putting the pound symbol in front of a word or phrase!
You’ll commonly see hashtags placed in Instagram captions like this:
But they can also be used in other places like your Instagram bio. There are even a few sneaky ways to hide hashtags in your Instagram posts, which we’ll show you in a bit.
Here are a few other things to consider when placing Instagram hashtags:
Popular hashtags aren’t going to help you stand out, but if you mix them with more niche tags you’ll get some extra exposure. Plus, they’re a good “seed” hashtag that you can modify for relevancy.
According to top-hashtags.com, these are the 20 most popular hashtags (along with how much each has been used):
We actually have an entire post on hashtags for every day of the week, but here’s a super-distilled version to get you started:
Monday: #mindfulmonday, #mondaymood, #mondayquotes
The best Instagram hashtags to use for growth are those that are specific to your niche. You can then modify them to include your location or even business name. We have you covered with over 300 more industry-specific hashtags to use in your posts, but here’s a taste:
Instagram marketing is a big deal for small business marketing. These hashtags will help mom-and-pop shops get found on the ‘gram.
#shoplocal, #buylocal, #supportsmallbiz, #familyowned, #smallbusinesssaturday, #smallbusinessweek, #smallbusinesslove, #smallbusinesstips, #smallbusinessowner, #handmade, #handcrafted, #etsyshop
We could all use a little lift every now and again. Use these motivational hashtags in Instagram to let your followers feel seen.
#hustle, #motivationonoftheday, #ifnotyouwho, #justdoit, #alwaysbekind, #workhard, #bebolder, #nevergiveup, #walkyourtruepath, #starttoday, #carpediem, #ifnotnowwhen, #accountability, #bethechange
Instagram Reels are mini-movies similar to TikTok’s short-form content. Include a Reels-specific hashtag to get your videos discovered in Instagram when people are searching for that kind of content.
#reels, #funnyreels, #reelsvideo, #reelsinstagram, #reelsviral, #reelsexplore, #trendingreels, #reelstrending, #reelsdance, #instagramreels, #instareels, #reelsofinstagram, #reelsdaily, #reelschallenge, #reelsfashion
You can come up with a hashtag for every conceivable holiday (#NationalCreamsicleDay FTW!). In fact, we’ve gathered over 140 end-of-year holiday hashtags for you to copy and paste. Here are a few holiday hashtags from all over the calendar.
#christmasspirit, #naughtylist, #NYE, #lightthemenorah, #halloweenvibes, #Tdayfeast, #memorialdayweekend, #thankyouvets, #thefourth, #happyfourthofjuly, #shamrock, #stpattysday, #Valintinesdaylove, #bemine
These posts have a host of holiday hashtags for your review:
When someone taps the little heart, they’re not only telling you they liked your post. They’re sending a signal to the Instagram algorithm that more people should see it. These hashtags are searched by people looking for likes (and followers), so they’ll be willing to trade #like4like.
#likes, #likeforlike, #instacool, #like4follow, #follow4followback, #instalove, #shoutout, #follow, #f4f, #followback, #liker, #instafollow, #pleasefollow, #likeforlikeback
Mental health awareness has become a big topic in every sphere, so it’s no surprise to see more mental health hashtags popping up on Instagram.
#stigmafree, #mentalhealthadvocate, #mentalhealthawareness, #anxietyisreal, #endthestigma, #selfcare, #acceptyourself, #gowithin, #mindsetshift, #selfacceptance, #youareworthy, #healthyboundaries, #itsokaytonotbeokay
Hashtags in this category have bloomed in the wake of several recent events. Here are some of the more popular diversity and inclusion hashtags.
#empowerment, #inclusion, #socialimpact, #community, #loveislove, #accessible, #disabilityawareness, #diversityequityinclusion, #pride, #blacklivesmatter, #allmeansall, #bettertogether, #unityindiversity, #loveforall, #minorityowned, #veteranowned, #womanowned, #blackowned
To use hashtags in your Instagram content in a meaningful and effective way, you need to do your research. So where to start? Here are a few ideas…
Hashtag generators are handy tools to help you create both broad and specific hashtags. Most work by taking a word you enter and delivering a list of related hashtags. Many also show you the popularity of each tag.
Here is a list of several popular hashtag generators:
Type hashtag ideas into the Instagram search bar and see what auto-fills. Easy peasy.
Keep an eye on your competitors and industry influencers. If you’re not sure what tags would be worth using, just take a look at what others are using successfully in your industry. That will give you a good starting point from which to mold your own strategy.
If your post is, indeed, worthy of 20-30 hashtags, there are a few ways to hide them so they don’t clutter up your caption.
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, but the number you should use depends on who’s making the suggestion.
A report from waaayyy back in 2017 found that an even 10 hashtags were the perfect amount for the most reach.
In 2021, Instagram publicly announced (on Instagram, of course) that you should only use between 3-5 hashtags per post.
That same year, Later revealed that 20-30 hashtags is actually the way to go (for Feed posts).
Here’s what they recommend:
What’s all this mean for you? Don’t use more than three or so hashtags in your caption, hide a couple in the image if you like, and add the rest—up to 30 total—in a caption. Just make sure they’re relevant to your content.
Hashtags are a powerful tool to promote your Instagram account for free. Here are some ways to use hashtags on Instagram.
Hashtags are the keywords of Instagram SEO. You’ll want to use a mix of high-volume hashtags to help you gain broad exposure, as well as lower-volume but higher-intent hashtags to attract potential followers and customers.
While you shouldn’t repeat hashtags in the same post, you can (and should) repeat hashtags that work in different posts. Keep a note handy so you can easily copy and paste them into your posts.
But remember. Relevancy is critical. Remove hashtags from your list where it doesn’t apply. If someone is exploring a hashtag and your super irrelevant post pops up, it’ll make your brand look unreputable, untrustworthy, and/or desperate.
Some of the best Instagram marketing campaigns are hashtag-based. Take the unforgettable #IceBucketChallenge. The marketing team for the ALS Association was able to raise awareness with this hashtag campaign, but they also raised a substantial amount of money ($115 million to be exact!).
Think about how you can do something similar by getting your followers to WANT to use your hashtag, which will help spread brand awareness about your business to other Instagrammers.
Hashtags campaigns don’t always have to be short-lived contests or trends. In fact, some of the most successful branded hashtags are the timeless ones, like Chewy’s #petsbringustogether.
Take the hashtag created by the sneaker company, Allbirds. Rather than using generic hashtags on every post, they use #weareallbirds, and happy customers use it as well to share their new kicks!
Tips for creating a branded hashtag on Instagram:
Run an Instagram giveaway asking entrants to take a picture, tag your business, and use a specific hashtag. Not only does it make it easier for you to track entries, but it can help you populate your branded hashtag with awesome content.
Hashtag challenges connect your followers and build a community around your brand.
Here is a great example from Lululemon UK and Stava, which partnered to run a fun challenge encouraging followers to complete a 40-80K run and tag their Instagram posts #4080challenge.
But as I’ve said before, always check the hashtag. If you search #4080challenge on Instagram, you get more car results than runners.
#4080challenge…a Lululemon campaign and a car.
In addition to tagging other brands in your Instagram posts, use their branded hashtags too. It’s a good way to support other businesses in their Instagram marketing strategies, and you never know—they just might feature you or use your hashtag to return the favor.
There are a few hashtags you should follow on Instagram.
To follow a hashtag, simply search for that hashtag and select the “follow” button in search results.
It’s time to talk about reporting. You can’t know if your hashtags are improving your social media marketing without the numbers. Luckily, you have lots of tools at your disposal. Here are exactly three.
First up is Instagram’s analytics. You can access this on mobile if you have an Instagram business account. You can also view an individual post’s hashtag performance by tapping “View insights” under that post.
If you are looking to get a bit more detail on individual hashtag performance, it might be worth investing in another reporting tool that digs into the details, like Sprout Social. This robust social reporting tool will allow you to generate Instagram hashtag performance reports to do a variety of things, including:
While the pricing is a bit higher for Iconosquare, there is a ton you can do, from scheduling social posts, tracking and responding to comments, and accessing detailed analytics all from one place.
When it comes to hashtag tracking, this tool provides quite sophisticated analytical data in regard to hashtag engagement and whether or not certain hashtags are contributing to brand and/or campaign growth.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, but let’s highlight a few questions that often come up about Instagram hashtags.
The best hashtags are the ones that your target audience will search. That means they should be relevant to your message and what you do. They should also have some usage volume so you know they’re actually searched for.
Some hashtags gain a lot of attention right out of the gate. The #icebucketchallenge is a good example. It may be that a high-profile celebrity shared the tag or that it corresponds with an event everyone wants to know about. For the most part, virality is too nebulous to make a goal. Instead, focus on posting great content to Instagram and matching hashtags to it.
You can use up to 30 hashtags per post. Keep five or fewer in the caption. Place the rest in the first comment.
In many ways, hashtags for Reels work just like they do for your in-feed posts. Pick hashtags that match your content and have volume. You can also include some variation of #Reels so people looking for short-form videos to watch find yours.
Who knew that one symbol could hold the power to expand your reach, attract more followers, and grow your business?
Now that we know just how important Instagram hashtags are, let’s keep in mind these tips for using them:
Kristen is the Senior Managing Editor at WordStream, where she helps businesses to make sense of their online marketing and advertising. She specializes in SEO and copywriting and finds life to be exponentially more delightful on a bicycle.
See other posts by Kristen McCormick
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