Using Instagram hashtags correctly can help you to expand your reach, engage your audience, boost your brand and even please Instagram’s algorithm. However, to get these benefits, you need to have specific strategies in place.
This is something that often baffles brands, as it can be difficult to notice trends and patterns at first glance. Hashtag strategies are not unique, which can cause even more confusion for companies trying to figure them out on their own.
In this article we explain how to create an effective hashtag strategy for your Instagram and IGTV accounts, how to implement and develop hashtag strategies and even examples of hashtags by category that you should add to your list based on your business goals.
If you want to promote your brand or learn how to make money on Instagram, these tactics are for you.
How does Instagram hashtags work?
Hashtags for Instagram can be included in what you post on Instagram and become clickable phrases and topics. Any word or phrase can become a functional hashtag, as long as it has the # in front of it.
When users click on a hashtag, they are taken to the discovery feed, which shows all the public content associated with it. People click or search for hashtags that interest them as a way to find content on Instagram.
Since hashtags are used with the intention of discovering content, the right hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before.
Recognizing the importance of hashtags on the platform, Instagram has expanded its functionality, so now brands can add clickable hashtags in the profile section of Instagram bios.
Instagram Stories have a hashtags sticker, which allows you to place working hashtags in your stories. When users click on one of them, they will be taken to the hashtag feed, just as if they had clicked on a hashtag in a post.
Users can also follow hashtags that interest them, ensuring that content from those hashtags appears in their feed regularly.
Best Instagram hashtags by category.
There can be a lot to consider when working with Instagram hashtags, so let’s regroup them around a solid starting point.
Below, you’ll find the top hashtags sorted by category, such as industry or event, that you can use to begin the process of developing your hashtag strategy.
Best Instagram tags:
Best hashtags to invite “like” and “follow me”:
Note: No promises are made about the quality of followers or likes you’ll receive, as these and related hashtags are often based on new Instagram users exchanging likes and follows.
Top trending hashtags:
Best food and drink hashtags:
Best travel hashtags:
Best hashtags for pets:
Best hashtags for technology and electronic devices:
Best wedding hashtags:
Best sportswear and workout hashtags:
Best vacation hashtags:
Best hashtags for Instagram contests:
How to use hashtags to get more followers on Instagram.
Understanding which Instagram tags (or InstagramTags) you should use is a crucial part of developing a solid hashtag strategy that maximizes your reach and increases engagement. There are different types of hashtags and each one of them serve for a particular purpose, and any well-thought-out strategy incorporates, not just one, but a combination of various.
Hashtags based on geographic location.
This doesn’t apply to all ecommerce merchants, but if you have products that can appeal to local audiences, take advantage of it.
Do you have novelty mugs or cups that showcase different cities? Use #MiamiLife or #MadridCocktails to connect with the right audience.
These hashtags are not meant to grow your audience, but to expand the relationship with the audience you already have. These phrases usually have little to do with the brand itself, and a lot to do with the situation of the specific post. In the example below, #ShopItLikeItsHot and #GetItGirl focus on entertainment.
General interest hashtags
Mass appeal hashtags are general hashtags that can be used in almost any post. They are frequently used, which means they are also frequently searched for. They can sometimes give your posts a significant boost in reach, putting them in front of established audiences. Examples include #instagood and #lovelife. You should consider that in this case, lots of pictures will be shown in the hashtag’s feed, so your post could be lost in the ocean.
You may want to remind your followers that it’s okay to have a #DogDay or appreciate that #SummerStorm. Timely hashtags can be related to a certain holiday, time of the year, or even time of the day. Users like timely content, and are likely to seek out festive and seasonal content in particular.
For example, you can use a current hashtag as #sunsout to introduce your product, sunglasses, in front of an interested audience.
Hashtags go in and out of fashion just like clothing styles and slang. Sometimes trending hashtags are simply popular hashtags that people are using at the time and have risen in popularity for some reason.
In many cases, however, they have more to do with current events.
Maybe Apple has announced a new version of the iPhone, or it’s election day somewhere in the country. These hashtags won’t give you consistent results, but they can have a significant return in reach and interest if used correctly.
Hashtags for special events
Sometimes hashtags can highlight special events happening in your store.
Are you about to host a contest? Hashtags like #ContestAlert and #Aweepstakes can help you find an interested audience. Similarly, hashtags like #liquidation and #BFCM can help you find bargain hunters and signal to followers that you have special offers for them online.
What type of Instagram hashtags should I use?
Not all businesses will benefit from all types of hashtags.
A merchant with national or international reach may not have a reason to use location-based hashtags, for example, and B2B merchants with a strictly professional voice may not use many of the event hashtags. That’s fine. Adopt the ones that work best for your brand and your audience.
How many hashtags should I use?
You can use up to 30 hashtags in a single Instagram post. That answers how many you can use, but not how many you should use. That can be very different.
There is a lot of research on this topic and several conclusions. One fairly consistent conclusion is that you should definitely use some hashtags (like more than one) in each post. It is important to highlight that, for instance, Instagram posts with hashtags receive 70% more likes.
As for the exact number of hashtags that work best, the data is inconsistent. Some professionals recommend using only two hashtags, while others say to use all 30. In reality, the sweet spot for a single post may be something you can only discover by testing what works best for you.
Instagram hashtags tools: streamline your process.
Whether it’s six hashtags or thirty, typing so many characters can be time-consuming, especially since autocorrect can’t save you. Ask any social media manager and they’ll tell you it’s not their favorite thing in the world.
Fortunately, there are tools that can speed up the process. These are the ones we recommend:
PreviewApp: which lets you save groups of hashtags in the app, apply them to your content and then export the posts directly to Instagram, hashtags included. It also lets you test your hashtags and find out which ones give you the best results.
Later: the saved captions feature let you apply captions and their hashtags to new posts. It’s in your best interest to change hashtags, but it can save you a lot of time if you use a handful of them over and over again.
Tag for Likes Pro: which can help you find, copy and paste Instagram hashtags on a mobile device. You can create custom lists containing multiple hashtags and then copy them directly into Instagram.
If you’re not willing to invest in a tool just for this purpose, the most affordable route may be using a general social media tool. You can keep a document of different hashtags and use a social media scheduling software like Agorapulse, Hootsuite or Sprout Social. In the same way you can also create the posts on your desktop, copying and pasting hashtags or groups of hashtags into the caption as needed.
Since all of these tools can post directly to Instagram for you, this can save you a few steps.
How to perform hashtags search for Instagram.
Hashtag research is a key part of sharing on Instagram. It can help you identify the most popular and top performing hashtags as well as those that are trending and give you new ideas for hashtags you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
There are several different strategies you can use to conduct hashtag research, whether you want to grow your list or find new trending topics. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Methods of “hashtag research”.
If you want to search for hashtags or trending topics that are relevant at the moment, Twitter can give you a head start.
They have a trending topics section, where you can see what people is sharing.
Keep in mind that the use of hashtags on Instagram and Twitter is different, and that Twitter is more focused on news. Keep this in mind and use it to research instead of blindly copying and pasting hashtags on Instagram.
See what your competition is doing
It never hurts to see how your competitor’s marketing strategy looks like, and that includes their hashtags strategy. Look for trends in the hashtags they’re using, and you might get some ideas for phrases you want to add to your list, too.
Pay attention to what influencers do.
Influencers, including micro-influencers, are so named for a reason: they already have an audience that actively seek their advice, inspiration or expertise. It’s not a surprise that these profiles have mastered their hashtags game and found the terms that best work. Take a look, and don’t be afraid to “steal” a few you like.
Use hashtag search engine tools.
All of the other hashtags search methods we’ve seen have been manual. Hashtag search tools can help you identify which hashtags are trending and which ones are more perennial to benefit your business the most.
A solid hashtag research tool is essential, because it can provide you with the kind of detailed information about specific hashtags that regular tools can’t give you.
These Instagram hashtags research tools can help you get started:
Since Keyhole expanded their hashtag research to cover Instagram, it became one of the most comprehensive hashtag analysis tools on the market.
It gives you a lot of information about each specific hashtag, including how many users have used it for their posts, the hashtag’s reach, and the impressions it receives. You can also see how many unique posts have included the hashtag, to gauge popularity against the competition.
They will show you the overall popularity and recent popularity of specific hashtags.
This tool is great for hashtag discovery, as it will show you related terms and hashtags that other users are including in their posts. You can even track hashtags over time, monitoring their popularity to decide if you should remove any from the rotation when its popularity has fell down.
If you’re looking for a tool to help you generate relevant hashtags quickly, Ritetag is the way to go. It will automatically suggest hashtags based on your text or images. You can also link Ritetag to a handful of social media management tools and get suggestions as you create posts within them.
Do my Instagram hashtags need to be visible?
No one wants to read thirty different hashtags, or even six, to get to the content. Large blocks of text that are difficult to read are also visually unappealing.
That’s why many brands choose to hide most of their hashtags by strategically placing them below the “See more” tag. Some even go further, adding significant additional spaces even outside of “See more” to aesthetically remove large chunks of hashtags from the rest of the description.
Other brands will add the hashtags in a separate comment in the post, but this causes the hashtags to lose effectiveness.
For most brands, however, the best option is to simply make sure your hashtags are separated by at least one line from the caption, and are hidden under the “See more” tag. This keeps the focus on the caption, increasing the probability that it will be read and it also offers a cleaner look.
The exception is if you use one or two hashtags for branding or entertainment/event purposes. In this case, leave them above the fold if necessary, and make sure they appear first or written inline in your Instagram caption. This way, users are more likely to read them.
Even if you see this happening, there’s no reason to use more than one line of separation for hashtags. If users click on that “See more” hashtag, you don’t want them to have to scroll forever to get to the comments, because probably they won’t continue to leave their intended comment.
Banned hashtags: The dark side of Instagram
Did you know that there are banned hashtags on Instagram? They are not even swearing words or obscenities, although those are indeed included in the list of banned hashtags.
Instagram routinely “bans” hashtags that it detects as frequently used in conjunction with any sort of illicit content. Some of them are not surprising, like #nasty, but others like #fitnessgirls and #tgif could be used for perfectly innocent reasons and even so, they’re banned.
Instagram will not post new content to feeds of a banned hashtag, if the feed is maintained.
Hashtags can be banned permanently or temporarily, and when you use them, your posts could be shadow blocked, which means they may not appear in your followers’ feeds, and they may also not appear when users search for other hashtags associated with the post.
In short, the use of a single banned hashtag can throw off all the work you’ve done on a single post.
When compiling your lists of hashtags you want to use, check out the full list of hashtags that have been banned on Instagram:
How to measure your hashtags strategy on Instagram.
All marketing efforts should be measured whenever possible, and that goes for hashtags strategies as well. Hashtags can be much harder to evaluate on their own, especially since you have clusters of them in posts, which can make it difficult to know which ones are working and which ones aren’t delivering results. Fortunately, there are several ways to measure the impact of your strategy.
First, take a look at the overall growth of your channel. You can do this with Instagram analytics, although many third-party social management platforms offer more details.
See if impressions, reach and “likes” are increasing for your profile and posts. Significantly, how many accounts have you reached through the Discovery channel? Are there big changes since you’ve adapted the new strategy? You should see month-over-month increases, if not, it’s time to adapt.
You should also use hashtag research tools to monitor the hashtags you use regularly. In this way it’s important to make sure their popularity is increasing rather than decreasing. You can also use tools like Keyhole to track your branded hashtag to see reach, impressions and overall usage from other profiles.
This can help you assess how much your branded hashtag is helping you, and whether it’s gaining traction organically.
Third-party tools can also provide data on your hashtag usage and results. Sprout Social has excellent hashtag data, showing you the hashtags that have produced the best engagement and the ones you have used more frequently.
Find the best Instagram hashtags for your brand.
Instagram hashtags are an essential part of Instagram marketing.
If you combine your hashtag tactics with a strategy that focuses on how to get more followers on Instagram, you’ll see an immediate increase in likes, comments and followers. If you don’t have a strategy, your marketing may not be reaching its full potential on the platform.
Use the tools and hashtag suggestions detailed in this article to build your own list of high-performing hashtags that will help you expand your reach and keep your audience engaged, and remember to change them based on your analytics and metrics for the best results.