Instagram Hashtags: What Are They and How To Use Them

The hashtag may have originated on Twitter, but Instagram hashtags have expanded the use of this popular social media tool. Studies have proven that using one or more hashtag increases engagement on social media posts, leading to more likes and followers. Learn how to use hashtags on Instagram to reach a larger audience and grow your followers


Why You Should Use Hashtags on Instagram


Hashtags on Instagram create a clickable link to every post that has used that hashtag, usually organized by top posts and most recent posts. This creates an online page for that hashtag’s topic, making it easy for other users to find similar posts and browse through their desired content.

Using hashtags allows your post to be seen by other users, bringing higher visibility to your post and hopefully better engagement.

Smart use of hashtags can help your post get more attention, resulting in more likes, comments, and new followers. If you’re looking to grow your audience or share your personal or company brand, hashtags are the best way to reach more users.

Hashtags are also a useful tool for inspiration or to browse through topics that interest you. If you’re looking for ideas for your own post or just exploring Instagram for entertainment, you can search a hashtag that appeals to you and scroll away.

Instagram now allows users to follow hashtags like they would personal accounts. Following a hashtag intersperses top posts from that hashtag throughout your feed. This increases the chance of your post being seen via hashtags, and also allows users to delve further into their favorite hashtags by featuring them on their feed daily.


How To Use Instagram Hashtags


It’s easy to use hashtags – simply type the hashtag symbol (#) and then type the word or phrase that you want to tag. Anyone can create their own hashtag this way, or you can add your post to an existing hashtag. There are a few rules to follow to use hashtags on Instagram:

    • Do NOT use spaces: Spaces break up hashtags, cutting the link short. If you want to hashtag “NYC Foodie”, be sure to put both words together as #NYCFoodie. Including the space will only create a hashtag for #NYC.
    • Do NOT include punctuation: Punctuation and special characters will also cut off your hashtag at that character, cutting your hashtag short and potentially changing its meaning. You can use an underscore ( _ ) but avoid punctuation such as: . , ! , ? , – , + , & , ^.
    • Numbers and emojis both work as hashtags on Instagram.
    • You can only tag your own posts. Adding a hashtag to a comment on another user’s post will not link that post to the corresponding hashtag page.
    • For your post to appear on a hashtag page, your account must be public. Using hashtags on a private account will not allow your post to be seen by other users per your privacy settings.


Hashtag Tips and Best Practices


You can follow all the technical rules of using hashtags on Instagram, but to get the full effect of hashtagging, you should also follow some unofficial rules and best practices. Social media gurus have come up with various tips to follow to best improve visibility on a post. While there is no guaranteed formula, these tips have proven to be the best practice for using hashtags on Instagram.


How Many Hashtags Should I Use On Instagram?


Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. If you try to use more than 30, Instagram will not allow you to post the caption or comment. Instagram stories allow only 10 hashtags.

Just because you can post 30 hashtags does not mean that you necessarily should. There have been debates and studies over what the best number of hashtags to use to increase engagement without spamming your feed with hashtags, and the numbers generally fall in the 8-12 range. One study by TrackMaven suggests that 9 hashtags is the optimal number for user engagement.


hashtag engagement


How to Hide Hashtags


A caption with a lot of hashtags doesn’t look its best – even having only a few hashtags in your caption can look messy or make it look like your post is spam. Experienced Instagram users and frequent hashtaggers tend to hide their hashtags in one of two ways, so that their post still gets the engagement of the hashtags without crowding a caption.

One way to hide your hashtags is to put them in the caption, but to lower them a few lines deep. Instagram doesn’t allow users to press “Enter” and leave blank space, so most hashtag fans use punctuation or a symbol on each line to create space. After 3 lines, Instagram adds a “…” to your caption, so viewers have to click to see the full caption. Creating this space via punctuation allows you to hide your hashtags in the extended version of the caption.


You can also hide your hashtags in a comment – hashtags still work when you comment on your own post. Many Instagram bloggers post their content with a normal caption, and then immediately comment all of their hashtags so that they still share their post with a larger audience without compromising the caption.


How to Become Instagram Famous


Unfortunately, there is no fool-proof way to reach Instagram fame. There are, however, some tips that famous Instagrammers follow that you can implement to help you on your rise to Insta-fame. Try these tips to gain more followers on Instagram


    • Use relevant hashtags: Only use hashtags that relate to your post. Using irrelevant hashtags is often viewed and reported as spam on that page, which will not help with user engagement. Think about it: if you were looking through a popular fashion hashtag, you wouldn’t want to see a post about food. Be thoughtful when choosing your hashtags.
    • Be specific: The more specific your hashtag, the more targeted your niche audience is. Again, you want your post to reach the people that are interested in that content, so using precise, specialized hashtags will help you reach your target demographic.
    • Use (Some) Popular Hashtags: Using super popular, high-traffic hashtags is a double-edged sword. You want to use a hashtag that reaches a large audience, but with millions of posts under that hashtag your photos may get lost or ignored. It’s best to use a few popular hashtags sparingly and in combination with your niche hashtags.
    • Do Your Research: Before you post, search through related posts, related hashtags, and successful accounts similar to your own. Checking out what hashtags a successful competitor account uses can provide ideas for what hashtags you should use if your content is similar.



Top Instagram Hashtags Of All Time 


Instagram implemented hashtags in 2011, and since then some of the most popular hashtags have been used millions or even billions of times. These hashtags are the most ubiquitously used on Instagram and have the most posts of all hashtags. Use these hashtags very sparingly and in combination with more specific hashtags to ensure your post does not get lost in the shuffle of millions of other posts.


#Love – 1.4 billion posts

#InstaGood – 916 million posts

#PhotoOfTheDay – 622 million posts

#Fashion – 618 million posts

#Beautiful – 549 million posts

#Happy – 492 million posts

#Cute – 480 million posts

#Like4Like – 477 million posts

#TBT – 465 million posts

#PicOfTheDay – 459 million posts


Use Instagram Hashtags to Grow Your Business


Businesses have taken to social media to promote their brand, and hashtags are a great way to reach new potential customers and share your company’s image. Businesses can use popular or trending hashtags on Instagram to show how their product relates to that hashtag or to cash in on trending topics with high visibility.

Many businesses choose to create their own, branded hashtags to create a hashtag specifically for their brand and customers. A specific brand hashtag can spur engagement from users and customers and will group their own posts into one hashtag page. Instagram allows users to post links to hashtags in their account bio, so a company with a branded hashtag can include that hashtag in their bio to further promote engagement.

One example is Urban Outfitters’ hashtag, #UOonYou, which encourages customers to tag their own posts wearing UO clothing. This generates user content that Urban Outfitters can potentially repost and brings more followers as users hope to be repost.



View this post on Instagram


Oh look, it’s @mia_colona in new swimwear, making us all very jealous. #UOonYou

A post shared by Urban Outfitters (@urbanoutfitters) on

To learn more about how to use Instagram hashtags for your business promotion, click here.


Written by Erin

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