Ultimate Guide for How to Use Instagram Hashtags

Hashtags are a powerful and important part of social media marketing, particularly on Instagram. That’s why we’ve created this guide to Instagram hashtags. While it might be easy to laugh at influencers with paragraphs full of #s in their posts, hashtags serve a major purpose. In this article, we’ll tell you what a hashtag is, why you need to use Instagram hashtags, how to make the most of your hashtagging, some best practices, and the most popular hashtags.

instagram hashtags

Definition of a Hashtag

A hashtag is a word or phrase that follows a pound sign, or #, on social media in order to identify the topic of the content. Instagrammers use hashtags to help them find content on Instagram that they want to see.

The hashtag originated on Twitter in 2007 with Chris Messina, a Silicon Valley tech designer. Needless to say, hashtags caught on quickly.

Today, hashtags are used to organize and categorize content. Entire Instagram communities are formed with the use of hashtags! They are also used strategically by brands in order to gain more followers on Instagram. For example, a brand might create a hashtag for a particular marketing campaign.

Why Hashtags are Important 

It is imperative that you use hashtags in your Instagram marketing campaigns. Why?

According to Brand Watch, posts with at least one hashtag gain 12.6% more engagement than posts that do not.

Benefits of Instagram Hashtags 

There are several benefits to utilizing Instagram hashtags.

  • Categorize your content
  • Make your content easier to find
  • Increase engagement with your posts
  • Get your content in front of a larger audience
  • Raise brand awareness
  • Target a specific group of people
  • Boost your Instagram SEO
  • Help you land on the Explore page

most popular instagram hashtags

Tips for How to Use Instagram Hashtags

Now that you know why it is so important to use Instagram hashtags, we’ll give you our tips for how to the best Instagram hashtags as part of your social media marketing campaign.

Conduct Hashtag Research

The first step is to find the best relevant hashtags for your content. Rather than just throwing any hashtag on your photos and videos, you want to choose meaningful and effective hashtags. This means doing some hashtag research in order to find the best ones. Here are some ways to find the right hashtags for you.

Start Searching 

Start typing your hashtag ideas into the Instagram search bar, and see what autofills. It’s a simple tip, but it works!

Use Online Tools 

There are plenty of hashtags generators online you can use, like All Hashtag and Sistrix. They will tell you which hashtags are popular and generate relevant hashtags for your content.

Check Your Competitors

See which hashtags your competitors are using, or check other accounts your target audience follows and see which hashtags they use. It can really help to get inspiration from other accounts.

The secret to choosing the right hashtags is to make sure they are relevant to your target audience’s interests, and that are popular but not too popular. If you choose one that is too popular, your content will get lost in the conversation. Hone in on some niche topics and themes.

Don’t Overuse Hashtags 

It might be tempting to go crazy with hashtags on every post. However, don’t overuse hashtags. Instagram lets you use a maximum of 30 hashtags on each post. However, that is probably too many. According to research, the optimal number of hashtags per post is 11. So, choose the 11 most relevant hashtags for your post and use those!

Find Inspiration from Other Accounts

Don’t worry, it’s acceptable and allowed to check out your competition on Instagram from time to time. This is a great way to find out what the trending hashtags are in your industry. It also helps you know what niche tags your target audience is probably following.

Create Your Own Hashtags 

While using hashtags that have already been used and you know are popular is one great tactic, there is another option. You can get creative and design your own hashtag! Whether it’s for your company or for an individual marketing campaign, a custom hashtag is a great way of branding your business. For example, the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag was created by the marketing team for the ALS Association.

do i need to use instagram hashtags

Be Consistent – But Not Too Consistent

So, you’ve done your hashtag research. Should you use the same hashtags in every single post? It’s a great question, and the answer varies. While there is nothing wrong with reusing some of the best hashtags in each of your posts, it is also a good idea to add a few that are relevant to each particular photo or video you share. It might work best to use half new hashtags and half that are new and more specific for each post. The important thing is to make sure that your hashtags are relevant to your post. If someone finds your post through a hashtag and an irrelevant post pops up, it can give them a bad impression of your brand.

Use a Branded Hashtag for a Giveaway 

Who doesn’t love a giveaway? There is a reason why you see so many on Instagram. Take your giveaway a step further and use a branded hashtag. For example, instead of just asking followers to like, leave a comment, or tag someone in the comments, ask them to post a photo and use the giveaway hashtag instead. It’s simple for your followers to enter and gives your brand heightened awareness.

Use Hashtags to Connect

Hashtags are an excellent way to build a relationship with your target audience on Instagram and create a community. Make sure to keep an eye on trending hashtags in your industry to help you stay engaged. It can also help you find partners and related brands, which helps increase your brand exposure. You can also find influencers to help you promote your content!

Create Catchy Hashtags

Hashtags don’t always have to be serious! Sometimes just a catchy, fun hashtag can succeed. Try it and see what works. Or, choose a single branded hashtag that you can add on all your posts to keep things consistent and organized. It should be something more fun than simply your company name. Make it something that your customers will love to use, too!

Leave Hashtags Out of Your Instagram Bio

Unfortunately, any hashtags you put in your Insta bio are not searchable. However, if you have a custom hashtag you want to raise awareness about or encourage your followers to use, it might be worth including in your bio.

how to use hashtags on instagram

Instagram Hashtag Best Practices

There are several Instagram hashtag best practices that you should know.

Keep it Relevant 

The most important factor when it comes to choosing hashtags is relevancy. Be as specific as you can and make sure not to use irrelevant hashtags.

Don’t Overuse Hashtags 

Make sure not to use the maximum number of hashtags just because you can. Rather, find the best number of hashtags that work for your posts. See which posts are your most popular and use that amount of hashtags.

Use Your Best Hashtags 

Make sure to use and reuse your best hashtags, especially your custom hashtags. When you keep an eye on what tags you are using, you can see which posts are popular and who is posting using those same tags. Then, you can engage with your audience directly, which helps you grow your following.

Keep an Eye on the Competition 

Make sure to check in regularly on your competition and influencers in your industry. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from their hashtags.

Most Popular Instagram Hashtags

As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to use or overuse the most popular Instagram hashtags, which is why we will lay out the 20 most popular hashtags of Instagram users so you can avoid them. Rather, choose niche hashtags that will attract your target audience.

  1. #love
  2. #instagood
  3. #me
  4. #tbt
  5. #cute
  6. #follow
  7. #followme
  8. #photooftheday
  9. #happy
  10. #tagforlikes
  11. #beautiful
  12. #self
  13. #girl
  14. #picoftheday
  15. #like4like
  16. #smile
  17. #friends
  18. #fun
  19. #like
  20. #fashion

instagram hashtag best practices

Measure Your Hashtag Performance

There are tools you can use to measure the performance of your hashtags on Instagram, so you can see what is working for your brand and what isn’t. These tools can help you become the ultimate hashtagger.

Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is a great tool to help you with your marketing campaigns. Also, it’s free! Instagram gives you all kinds of data about your activity, content, and your audience. To see the success of your hashtags, look at your post impressions to see how many came from hashtags rather than home, profile, and others. You can access all this information in your Instagram account.

Sprout Social

If you want to get more details on your social media marketing strategy, you might need a more in-depth tool. Sprout Social lets you generate Instagram Hashtag Performance Reports. These reports help you compare your most used Instagram hashtags to the ones that see the most engagement, see how branded hashtags compare to more common hashtags, and use their tagging feature to build campaign specific hashtag reports.


Iconosquare is an Instagram management platform that lets you schedule social posts, track and respond to comments, and see detailed analytics. It also gives you data on hashtag engagement and if specific hashtags are helping or hurting your brand’s growth.

Instagram Marketing with SEO Design Chicago

Get more Instagram marketing tips from the experts at our company! SEO Design Chicago offers Instagram marketing and advertising services to help you grow your audience on the app. Explore your social media marketing


  • What is a hashtag?
  • Do I need a hashtag on every Instagram post?
  • What are the most popular hashtags on Instagram?
  • How many hashtags should I put on an Instagram post?
  • How can I see if my Instagram hashtags are working?

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