Instagram Hashtags: Finding & Utilizing Top Tags for Maximum Engagement

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17 mins

Explore the art of leveraging Instagram hashtags to enhance your social media influence and engagement.


Reviewed by Chloe Bidle

Creative social media strategist, driving engagement and innovation.

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  1. Are Hashtags Crucial for Instagram Growth?
  2. Tips to Find and Use the Best Instagram Hashtags
    1. Research Relevant Hashtags
    2. Use Instagram's Search Bar
    3. Explore Competitors' Posts
    4. Utilize Hashtag Generator Tools
    5. Consider Hashtag Popularity
    6. Mix Popular and Niche Hashtags
    7. Create Branded Hashtags
    8. Analyze Hashtag Performance
    9. Keep Hashtags Concise
    10. Avoid Banned or Spammy Hashtags
  3. 10 Most Popular Hashtags on Instagram
  4. What Are the Rules for Hashtags on Instagram?
  5. How Do You Use Hashtags Smartly?
    1. Hashtag Strategy Table
  6. How Do You Use Hashtags in a Post?
  7. Is It Better to Put Hashtags in Comments or Caption?
  8. How Many Hashtags Can I Use in an Instagram Post?
  9. Do Hashtags Work in Instagram Stories?
  10. Can I Edit Hashtags After Posting on Instagram?
  11. Are there Guidelines for Using Hashtags on Instagram?
  12. Should I Use Popular or Niche Hashtags?
  13. What's the Purpose of Creating a Unique Hashtag?
  14. How Can I Track the Performance of My Hashtags?
  15. The Bottom Line
  16. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What are the strategies for selecting effective hashtags on Instagram for engagement and growth?
    2. Can you explain the optimal number of hashtags to use in an Instagram post for maximum visibility?
    3. How can one discover trending hashtags on Instagram for content promotion?
    4. In what ways can hashtag generators assist in improving Instagram post reach and what are their limitations?
    5. What methods are recommended for analyzing the performance of specific hashtags on Instagram?
    6. Where should one place hashtags in Instagram posts or stories for the best engagement?

Instagram hashtags are an essential tool for amplifying the reach of your content and connecting with new audiences. By incorporating relevant hashtags into your posts, you tap into a dynamic system that categorizes content, making it discoverable to users interested in specific topics. The strategic use of hashtags can dramatically enhance your visibility on the platform, where millions of interactions are happening every moment.

Finding the right hashtags for your Instagram content involves a blend of staying up-to-date with trending topics and identifying those that resonate with your brand and audience. It's not just about quantity; the focus should be on the quality and relevance of the hashtags you select. By targeting specific and pertinent hashtags, you increase the likelihood of engaging with users who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

Using hashtags effectively goes beyond just getting your posts seen. It's about creating connections and fostering an engaged community around your content. Your approach to hashtags can shape the conversations you become part of and the networks you tap into, making them a powerful asset for building your presence on Instagram.

Are Hashtags Crucial for Instagram Growth?

Hashtags are, undeniably, a cornerstone of your Instagram strategy if you’re aiming to amplify your reach and foster growth. They have consistently proven to be pivotal in maximizing engagement on your posts. By judiciously deploying relevant hashtags, your content becomes searchable and gains visibility among not just your followers but a broader audience that might be interested in your niche.

Pros of Using Hashtags  
Discoverability Your posts can appear in the search results of users looking for content under a specific hashtag, making you more discoverable.
Trending Topics Using trending hashtags can potentially place your content in the limelight if it aligns with current popular subjects.
Community Building Accurate hashtags help you find and follow communities or conversations related to your interests or industry.

To leverage hashtags effectively, prioritize those that are highly relevant to your content and resonate with what your target audience is looking for. Overusing hashtags or employing unrelated ones might not contribute to popularity and can detract from the intended message.

Remember, Instagram has advised adopting a balanced approach to hashtag use, recommending between 3-5 per post to avoid the spammy look and ensure each tag's impact.

Below is a simple guideline to follow when selecting hashtags:

  • Selectivity: Choose hashtags that cater specifically to the interests of your audience.
  • Relevancy: Ensure the hashtags are pertinent to the content you are sharing.
  • Trending: Take advantage of trending hashtags to gain temporary spikes in visibility.

Through strategic hashtag application, you enhance your chances of growth significantly by attracting new followers and keeping existing ones engaged.

Tips to Find and Use the Best Instagram Hashtags

To maximize your engagement and reach on Instagram, it is essential to use hashtags effectively. This involves researching, using analytical tools, and understanding the platform’s algorithm.

Research Relevant Hashtags

Start by identifying relevant hashtags that relate directly to your content. Look for hashtags with an engaged community and specific to your content's theme. Strong keywords play a crucial role; they should reflect the core topics of your posts to cater to your target audience.

Use Instagram's Search Bar

Leverage Instagram's search bar to find popular and trending hashtags. Type a keyword related to your content and select the 'Tags' tab to see a list of hashtags and the number of posts using them.

Explore Competitors' Posts

Examine what hashtags your competitors are using to engage with their followers. Take note of the hashtags that drive significant engagement and consider how they can be adapted to suit your strategic goals.

Utilize Hashtag Generator Tools

Hashtag generator tools analyze your content and suggest relevant hashtags. These tools can save time and offer data-driven insights to refine your hashtag strategy.

Consider Hashtag Popularity

Understand the popularity of a hashtag by looking at the volume of content associated with it. Hashtags with a high post volume can be competitive, making it harder for your content to stand out.

Mix Popular and Niche Hashtags

Combine popular hashtags, which increase potential visibility, with niche hashtags that target specific segments of users. This strategy can help balance reach with relevance.

Create Branded Hashtags

Develop branded hashtags for campaigns or to encourage user-generated content. These can increase brand awareness and create a community around your content.

Analyze Hashtag Performance

Review analytics to measure how different hashtags perform. Use metrics like engagement rate and reach to determine which hashtags consistently contribute to your success.

Keep Hashtags Concise

Opt for succinct hashtags that are easy to remember and spell. Long or complicated hashtags reduce the likelihood they will be used or searched by others.

Avoid Banned or Spammy Hashtags

Steer clear of hashtags that violate Instagram's community guidelines or appear spammy. These can negatively affect your content's visibility in search results and may even lead to shadow banning.

10 Most Popular Hashtags on Instagram

When aiming to enhance your visibility on Instagram, incorporating popular hashtags into your posts is a strategic move. Popular hashtags trend due to their widespread use, which can increase your content's chance of being seen by a broader audience.

Below is a list of the top 10 trending hashtags on Instagram that you might consider using, depending on their relevance to your content:

  1. #love: Showcasing content related to positive emotions and personal stories.
  2. #instagood: Often used for high-quality and compelling images or experiences.
  3. #photooftheday: Highlighting your best shot of the day.
  4. #fashion: Ideal for posts that revolve around clothing, style, and the fashion industry.
  5. #beautiful: Used for aesthetically pleasing images or to highlight beauty in various forms.
  6. #happy: Accompanying content that promotes happiness or joyful moments.
  7. #cute: Typically associated with adorable content, from pets to babies.
  8. #tbt (Throwback Thursday): Great for sharing memories or past events on Thursdays.
  9. #like4like (or #l4l): A tag aimed at increasing engagement through a like exchange.
  10. #followme: Used to attract new followers and build your audience.

The use of these hashtags should align with your branding efforts. Your goal is not just to use popular tags, but also to find those that connect with your niche and enhance your post’s relevance and authenticity. By combining these high-visibility tags with more specific ones, you create a balanced strategy that can help you reach both a wide and targeted audience. Remember, your content must be true to each hashtag to effectively engage and grow your community.

What Are the Rules for Hashtags on Instagram?

When using hashtags on Instagram, you need to adhere to specific guidelines to optimize your content's visibility and maintain compliance with the platform's standards.

Hashtag Limits: You can include up to 30 hashtags on a regular post and up to 10 on an Instagram Story. Exceeding these limits may result in your post not being visible in hashtag searches.

Relevance Matters: Ensure each hashtag is relevant to the content of your post. Irrelevant hashtags can decrease the effectiveness of your message and negatively impact your engagement rates.

Variety is Key: Regularly rotate hashtags to avoid spammy behavior. Instagram's algorithm can penalize accounts that repeatedly use the same hashtags, potentially limiting the reach of your content.

Visibility Strategies:

  • You can integrate hashtags directly into your captions, allowing for a seamless reading experience.
  • Alternatively, post hashtags in the comments section or after hitting "Return" a few times in the caption to maintain a clean look.

Prohibited Content: Steer clear of using banned or inappropriate hashtags, as this can lead to your content being removed or your account penalized.

Understanding Hashtag Types:

  • Branded hashtags: Custom hashtags created for your brand.
  • Community hashtags: Hashtags that connect like-minded users around specific subjects.
  • Campaign hashtags: Temporary hashtags used for marketing campaigns.

Remember, effective hashtag use is a mix of science and art; it requires balancing popular tags with niche ones to maximize your post's discoverability while reaching a targeted audience.

How Do You Use Hashtags Smartly?

When aiming to leverage Instagram hashtags efficiently, begin by tailoring your strategy to your content and target audience. Identify keywords that are specific to your niche and the interests of your followers. Instead of solely depending on the most popular hashtags, diversify with a balanced mix to maximize visibility.

  • Research: Analyze trending and relevant hashtags within your niche. Tools and features within Instagram can show you how many posts are associated with a particular hashtag, indicating its popularity and relevance.

  • Quantity and Quality: Instagram now recommends using between 3-5 highly relevant hashtags. This focused approach aims to connect you with a more engaged audience rather than a broader, less interested group.

  • Relevance: Prioritize hashtags that describe your post and your brand authentically. Irrelevant tags can turn off potential followers who are looking for specific content.

  • Placement: Place your hashtags strategically. You can add them at the end of your caption or as a comment on your post.

Hashtag Strategy Table

Goal Hashtag Type Examples
Broad Reach Popular / Trending #instagood
Niche Targeting Specific / Niche #travelblogger
Community Building Brand or Campaign #shareacoke
Content Discovery Content Descriptive #weeklyfluff

Remember, using the right hashtags can categorize your posts, making them more discoverable to users interested in your specific topic. Track the performance of different hashtags to refine your strategy over time.

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How Do You Use Hashtags in a Post?

When incorporating hashtags into your Instagram posts, start by typing the pound sign (#) followed by a relevant keyword or phrase directly in your caption or the comments section, ensuring there are no spaces within the hashtag. Hashtags effectively categorize your content, making it discoverable to audiences interested in similar topics.

Consider the following points to effectively use hashtags in your posts:

  • Relevancy: Choose hashtags that relate to the content of your post. Irrelevant hashtags may lead to a lower engagement or could even be flagged as spam.
  • Research Popular Hashtags: Use tools or research methods to find trending or high-engagement hashtags related to your content. However, excessively popular hashtags might cause your post to get lost among others.
  • Limit Your Hashtags: While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, it's recommended to use between 3-5 hashtags to optimize post performance without overcrowding your caption.

Tips for Crafting Your Hashtags:

  • Use mixed-case hashtags (#SunsetPhotography) for better readability.
  • Check the number of posts associated with a hashtag; this can be a gauge of its popularity.
  • Avoid banned or spammy hashtags by doing a quick search beforehand.

By strategically using hashtags, you can enhance the visibility of your posts, attract the right audiences, and foster engagement with your content. Remember that the goal is to connect with individuals who find your posts valuable or interesting.

Is It Better to Put Hashtags in Comments or Caption?

When considering where to place your hashtags on Instagram, you have two main options: in the caption of your post or within the first comment. Each method has its benefits, and the ideal choice may depend on your specific goals and the nature of your account.

Caption Hashtags:

  • Visibility: Hashtags in the caption are immediately visible to your audience, which can engage viewers right when they see your post.
  • Convenience: Including hashtags directly in your caption ensures that they are published with your post without any extra steps.
  • Permanence: Hashtags in the caption remain with the post and don't get buried by subsequent comments.

Comment Hashtags:

  • Aesthetics: Some users prefer to place hashtags in a comment to keep their captions clean and focused on the message.
  • Flexibility: Hashtags in comments can be edited or deleted without affecting the original post caption.
  • Strategy: For high-engagement accounts, comment hashtags may get hidden over time as new comments arrive, potentially making posts less likely to be found via hashtag searches after the initial boost.

In summary, if you seek immediate visibility and a straightforward approach, placing hashtags in your caption is the most direct method. However, if you wish to maintain a neater appearance and have the flexibility to edit hashtags, then using the first comment may be preferable. Remember, Instagram allows the use of hashtags in both captions and comments, and your content’s visibility on hashtag pages is not affected by the placement.

How Many Hashtags Can I Use in an Instagram Post?

In crafting your Instagram posts, the number of hashtags you employ is a strategic decision. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should use that many. An effective hashtag strategy involves a balance between quantity and relevance.

Recent guidance from Instagram suggests using between 3-5 hashtags. This recommendation aims to ensure the hashtags you choose are targeted and relevant to your content. Here’s a simplified approach:

  • 3-5 hashtags: Recommended for maximum engagement
  • Up to 30 hashtags: Allowed but may appear spammy

Here's a quick list of best practices:

  • Choose Quality Over Quantity: Select hashtags that are highly relevant to the post's content.
  • Monitor Engagement: Experiment with different numbers of hashtags and note the levels of engagement.
  • Avoid Banal or Overused Hashtags: These can bury your content in a sea of irrelevance.

It's worth noting that previous advice varied, with some recommendations suggesting 8-15 hashtags to optimize reach. However, with evolving algorithms, Instagram's current recommendation emphasizes using fewer, more impactful hashtags.

Remember, your hashtag strategy should align with the content of your post and your target audience. Stay current with Instagram's guidelines and adjust your strategy as needed for better visibility and engagement on your posts.

Do Hashtags Work in Instagram Stories?

Hashtags are an integral aspect of content discoverability on Instagram, including Instagram Stories. When you include hashtags in your Stories, you categorize your content alongside similar posts, making it more discoverable to users interested in that specific topic. While Instagram's algorithms continuously evolve, incorporating relevant hashtags can still potentially increase the visibility of your Stories.

Finding the Right Hashtags:

  • Relevance: Choose hashtags that are directly related to the content of your Story.
  • Trending Topics: Look for currently popular hashtags in your niche.
  • Brand Specific: Use unique hashtags designed for your brand's campaigns or events.

Best Practices:

  • Limitation: Aim for a small number of highly relevant hashtags; Instagram's latest guidance suggests using between 3-5.
  • Placement: Be strategic about hashtag placement, ensuring they are visually coherent with the Story and easy to read.
  • Engagement: Even though Stories may no longer appear in dedicated hashtag sections, they foster engagement, and higher interaction rates can lead to increased Story distribution among your followers.

In summary, while the functionality of hashtags in increasing the discoverability of Instagram Stories is not as straightforward as it once was, they remain a useful tool. Using them effectively involves careful selection, strategic placement, and monitoring engagement to align with your content strategy on the platform.

Can I Edit Hashtags After Posting on Instagram?

Yes, you can edit hashtags on a post after it has already been published on Instagram. The platform provides a simple method to do this:

  • Go to your Instagram profile and locate the post you want to edit.
  • Tap the three dots (…) in the upper right corner of your post.
  • Select Edit from the drop-down menu.
  • Now you can add, delete, or change hashtags in the caption or the comments section of your post.


  • Adding new hashtags can potentially increase your post's visibility if done promptly.
  • Removing and altering hashtags can be useful to refine your strategy.

Note: If you update hashtags, the post will not appear at the top of the hashtag page for the new tags, as the algorithm prioritizes new content. However, it will be discoverable to those who search or browse the particular hashtag after you've made the edits.

Keep in mind:

  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your content.
  • Stay within Instagram's guidelines.
  • Be clever with the hashtags to ensure they align well with your post.

Are there Guidelines for Using Hashtags on Instagram?

Instagram has set informal guidelines for hashtag use to optimize content visibility and engagement. When you're selecting hashtags for your posts, keep these recommendations in mind:

  • Relevance: Choose hashtags that are relevant to your content. This will help your posts reach a target audience genuinely interested in your material.

  • Quantity: Instagram has fluctuated with its advice on the number of hashtags to use. While it was once common to use many hashtags, Instagram now recommends using between 3 to 5 highly pertinent hashtags to avoid appearing spammy.

  • Variety: Regularly switch up your hashtags to reach different audiences and keep your content fresh. Repeated use of the same hashtags may trigger spam filters, reducing your post visibility.

  • Research Tools: Consider using third-party tools for hashtag research. These services can help identify effective hashtags specific to your business niche and content strategy.

  • Visibility: Hashtags can be included in the post caption or comments. For a cleaner look, you can hide hashtags within the caption by placing them at the end or beneath line breaks, or in the first comment of your post.

Remember, using targeted and well-researched hashtags can act favorably with Instagram's algorithm, enhancing the discoverability and reach of your content. Keep track of which hashtags perform the best and adjust your strategy accordingly to maximize your engagement.

Should I Use Popular or Niche Hashtags?

When selecting hashtags for your Instagram posts, you're faced with a choice: popular hashtags or niche hashtags. Here's what you need to consider:

Popular Hashtags:

  • Pros: Greater reach and potential visibility.
  • Cons: High competition means your content could quickly get lost in the sea of posts.

Niche Hashtags:

  • Pros: Less competition and a more targeted audience.
  • Cons: Smaller reach, but the engagement is usually higher quality.

Choosing the Right Balance:

Consideration Popular Hashtags Niche Hashtags
Visibility High Lower
Competition High Low
Audience Relevance General Specific
Engagement Quality Variable Higher

To maximize your Instagram strategy:

  1. Identify a mix of both popular and niche hashtags.
  2. Use tools like Later's Hashtag Suggestion Tool to find related tags.
  3. Look at what influencers in your industry are using for guidance.
  4. Analyze hashtag performance using analytics tools to refine your approach.

Remember, while popular hashtags can increase your reach, niche, targeted hashtags connect you more effectively with your intended audience. Use them smartly to achieve the right balance for your social media goals.

What's the Purpose of Creating a Unique Hashtag?

When you generate a unique hashtag for your brand or campaign, you ignite a distinctive identity in the crowded realm of social media. A custom hashtag serves several strategic purposes:

  • Branding: It carves out a niche for your content, making it instantly identifiable with your brand or event.
  • Campaign Tracking: By encouraging followers to use it, you can monitor conversations and gauge the campaign's impact.

Consider these factors when creating your unique hashtag:

  1. Relevance: Ensure it directly relates to your brand or specific campaign.
  2. Memorability: Keep it short, catchy, and easy to remember.
  3. Distinctiveness: Verify uniqueness to avoid confusion with other tags.

By utilizing a unique hashtag, you also pave the way for:

  • Community Building: It forms a virtual gathering space for your audience to share experiences and engage with each other.
  • Enhanced Reach: A well-promoted unique tag can transcend your existing audience, attracting potential followers interested in the topic.

Remember, the success of a hashtag lies in its adoption. Promote your unique hashtag consistently across various platforms and integrate it into your marketing collateral to ensure visibility and increase its usage.

How Can I Track the Performance of My Hashtags?

Tracking the performance of your Instagram hashtags is crucial for understanding their impact and optimizing your social media strategy. Begin by selecting the right tools and familiarize yourself with the metrics that matter. Here's how to get started:

Choose an Analytics Tool:

  • Command Analytics & Stats for Instagram: As an iOS-exclusive app, Command offers detailed hashtag analytics within its premium plan. Look for metrics like engagement rates in the Post Stats section.
  • Sprout Social: A comprehensive platform where you can manage hashtag analytics across various networks, Sprout Social provides insights into audience usage and performance.

Understand Your Metrics:

  • Engagement: Measures likes, comments, and shares your hashtags receive.
  • Reach: The number of unique users who see your content.
  • Impressions: How often your content is displayed.

Conduct Your Analysis:

  • Regularly review which hashtags garner the most engagement.
  • Determine if specific hashtags expand your reach to new audiences.
  • Identify if high impressions correlate with increased brand awareness.

Implement a Tracking Method:

  • Manual Tracking: For smaller accounts or specific campaigns, manually note which hashtags correlate with spikes in engagement and reach.
  • Automated Tools: Utilize the analytics features within your chosen tool to continuously monitor performance and tweak your strategy accordingly.

Keep a consistent tracking routine to refine your use of hashtags and strengthen your Instagram presence.

The Bottom Line

When implementing hashtags into your Instagram strategy, the key to success is relevance and precision. Your objective is to enhance engagement and expand reach by connecting your posts with targeted audiences.

  • Relevance: Choose hashtags that are directly related to the content you're posting. Irrelevant hashtags can dilute your message and could potentially attract the wrong audience.
  • Research: Spend time finding hashtags that are popular but not so oversaturated that your content will be lost. Tools and generators can offer suggestions, but manual research may lead to more unique and effective options.
  • Balance: Employ a mix of popular and niche hashtags to strike the right balance between visibility and targeted reach.

Remember, Instagram's algorithm rewards engagement. The more users interact with your content, the more it will be shown. By using a well-crafted hashtag strategy, you are more likely to connect with those who are interested in your content, thus fostering higher interaction rates.

Lastly, tracking the performance of various hashtags allows you to refine your approach continually. Monitor which hashtags frequently lead to new followers and higher levels of engagement, and don't hesitate to alter your selection based on those insights.

Adhering to these points ensures that hashtags will remain a powerful tool in your Instagram repertoire, serving to boost your digital presence effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

When utilizing Instagram hashtags, strategically selecting and analyzing them is crucial for enhancing your content's visibility and engagement. These frequently asked questions will guide you through mastering hashtag use on the platform.

What are the strategies for selecting effective hashtags on Instagram for engagement and growth?

To select effective hashtags, focus on relevance, community size, and specificity. Choose hashtags that relate directly to your content, aim for those with a mid-range popularity to avoid getting lost in high-volume tags, and consider creating branded hashtags to foster a community around your brand.

Can you explain the optimal number of hashtags to use in an Instagram post for maximum visibility?

The optimal number of hashtags is often debated, but Instagram allows up to 30. Using between 5 to 11 targeted hashtags can offer a balance between reach and relevance. It's essential to prioritize quality over quantity and select hashtags that best represent your post content.

How can one discover trending hashtags on Instagram for content promotion?

To discover trending hashtags, use Instagram's search function by typing a keyword related to your content. Observing hashtags used by industry influencers and keeping an eye on Instagram's Explore page can also reveal current trends that you can incorporate into your content.

In what ways can hashtag generators assist in improving Instagram post reach and what are their limitations?

Hashtag generators provide suggestions based on inputted keywords, URLs, or uploaded photos. They can help identify related tags and estimate post volume. However, they may not always identify niche or trending hashtags, and the generated list should be refined for relevance and uniqueness.

What methods are recommended for analyzing the performance of specific hashtags on Instagram?

To analyze your hashtag performance, monitor the likes, comments, and saves your posts receive from users who aren't following you but find your content through hashtags. Use Instagram's Insights feature for business accounts to track the reach and impressions generated from your hashtags.

Where should one place hashtags in Instagram posts or stories for the best engagement?

Hashtags can be placed directly in the caption of a post or in a comment immediately after posting. For stories, hashtags can be added as text or with a hashtag sticker. Both placements can be effective, but ensuring visibility without overcrowding your content is key for engagement.

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