The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags in 2020
Instagram hashtags are still an effective way to get more eyes (and engagement!) on your Instagram posts in 2020.
A post with at least one Instagram hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. So it really is worth creating a hashtag strategy for your brand if you want to grow your account!
This ultimate guide to Instagram hashtags will help you understand everything you need to know about using hashtags to get more followers, improve your posts’ engagement rates, and build a community around your business.
Ready to learn how to use Instagram hashtags strategically and what steps you need to take to implement an effective hashtag strategy? We bet you are!
- Why Instagram Hashtags Are Important
- The Top Instagram Hashtags of 2019
- The Different Types of Instagram Hashtags
- How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Account
- How to Organize Your Instagram Hashtags
- How to Optimize Your Instagram Hashtags
- Best Practices for Instagram Hashtags in 2020
Why Instagram Hashtags Are Important
Instagram has gone through a lot of changes since its initial release in 2010. But through it all, one thing has remained consistent: the importance of Instagram hashtags.
Using relevant, targeted hashtags on your posts and stories is still one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram. And this can translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business.
Like on Twitter and other social media platforms, Instagram hashtags work by organizing and categorizing photo and video content.
If you have a public Instagram account and add a hashtag to a post, that post will be visible on the corresponding hashtag page (it’s basically a directory of all the photos and videos that were tagged with that hashtag).
Since hashtags are used with an intent to discover content, the right hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before.
By using these three hashtags, the image is cataloged so other Instagram users who enjoy healthy foods can easily find it.
A few things to keep in mind:
- When people with private profiles tag posts, they won’t appear publicly on hashtag pages
- Numbers are allowed in hashtags. However, spaces and special characters, like $ or %, won’t work.
- You can only add hashtags to your own posts. You can’t tag other people’s photos/videos.
- You can use up to 30 hashtags on a post and 10 on a story.
The Top Instagram Hashtags of 2019
While using ultra-popular hashtags isn’t always the best strategy for getting more engagement on your posts and stories (we’ll explain this more below), here’s a breakdown of the top Instagram hashtags of 2019:
The Different Types of Instagram Hashtags
Understanding the different types of hashtags and their corresponding audiences is key to developing an effective Instagram hashtag strategy:
#1: Community Hashtags
Community hashtags are hashtags that connect like-minded users around a specific subject. They’re a great way to connect with others, improve the searchability of your posts, gain followers, and grow your own community.
Here are 9 different types of community hashtags you can use for your business:
- Hashtags indicating your product or service, like #sweater or #coffeeshop.
- Hashtags indicating your niche in your industry, like #weddingphotographer or #travelphotographer.
- Hashtags for Instagram communities in your industry, like #bakersofinstagram or #foodiesofinstagram.
- Hashtags for special events or seasons, like #whiteday or #nationaldonutday.
- Hashtags using location, like #pastrynyc, #madeinToronto, or #sydneysweets.
- Daily hashtags, like #mondaymotivation, #tuesdaytip, or #wellnesswednesday.
- Hashtags with phrases relevant to what you do, like #becreative or #bakerylove.
- Hashtags with acronyms, like #qotd (quote of the day) or #ootd (outfit of the day).
- Hashtags with emojis, like #shoes👟 or #🌞.
We recommend using a variety of hashtags on your posts and stories so your posts can reach different communities. For instance, if you have a bakery in NYC, you can use #nycbakeries to reach those looking specifically for bakeries in NYC, but also use #bakerslife for those who are interested in your day-to-day life as a baker.
The best way to find these community-oriented hashtags is by looking to see which hashtags your audience, or favorite accounts, are already using.
If you’re thinking about creating your own community hashtag, remember that the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users tend to be! Don’t be afraid to find a niche interest or topic that you’d like to build an Instagram community around.
#2: Branded Hashtags
A branded hashtag is a hashtag that’s unique to your company when using Instagram for business.
It can be as simple as your company name, tagline, or the name of one of your products or campaigns. Or it can be a hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand name, but has everything to do with your brand identity!
While community hashtags are meant to increase the reach of your message, branded hashtags are designed to connect themes for you and your audience.
Getting your Instagram followers to use your branded hashtag in their posts and stories is key to getting discovered on Instagram by new audiences.
Once you create your hashtag, remind customers they can use your business’ hashtag by sharing it on your stories or calling it out in your captions. This way, their followers can tap the hashtag and see other posts about your business.
It’s also a good idea to follow your branded hashtag to keep track of any posts where people are using your business’ hashtag.
#3: Campaign Hashtags
While branded and community hashtags are meant to last, campaign hashtags are usually shorter-term and run for just a few days, a season, or a year.
The reason campaign hashtags are shorter-term is because they’re usually tied to specific campaigns, like new product launches, special events, or partnerships.
For example, @tezzaapp recently used the hashtag #12daysoftezzaapp to promote a holiday campaign.
How to Find the Best Instagram Hashtags for Your Account
When used correctly, Instagram hashtags can help you grow your reach, get more engagement, and attract more followers.
But in order to be successful with hashtags, you need to be strategic about what hashtags you use and when you use them.
Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to find and use hashtags that are smaller, more niche, and have a truly engaged audience that’s relevant to your industry.
So, how can you find these cool, creative, and community-oriented hashtags?
The best way is to look and see what Instagram hashtags your audience, competitors, and industry leaders are already using.
We’ve noticed that the more niche the topic, the more conversations users are having around it, so it pays off to really hone in on a topic or theme. And you’d be surprised by how niche hashtags can get!
For example, let’s say you’re posting a photo of a French Bulldog. Instead of just tagging #dogstagram (over 15 million posts), you could also tag #frenchie (over 5 million posts) and #squishyfacecrew (over 1.3 million posts) to reach a more targeted audience of people who really love French Bulldogs. This is the best way to get a lot of targeted engagement on your posts!
Here are 5 ways to find the best hashtags for your account:
#1: Use Later’s Hashtag Suggestions Feature
If you need some help finding niche and industry-specific hashtags then you may want to check out Later’s Hashtag Suggestions feature.
Hashtag Suggestions works by automatically finding relevant hashtags for your posts based on other hashtags that you use.
For example, let’s say you’re posting a photo of a beautiful bedroom to promote your business that sells linens. All you have to do is know one relevant hashtag (like #livesimply), put it into Hashtag Suggestions, hit “Suggest,” and the feature will immediately generate 30 other hashtags, sorted by relevance.
You can then pick and choose which of these hashtags to add you to your post. All you have to do is click “Insert Hashtags” and they’ll be added to the end of your caption.
You can then pick and choose which of these hashtags to add you to your post. All you have to do is click “Insert Hashtags” and they’ll be added to the end of your caption.
#2: Research Your Audience
Throwing random hashtags at the end of your Instagram posts isn’t going to grow your audience. Instead, find out what hashtags your audience is using and see which ones fit the content that you’re publishing. Your hashtags should be relevant and contain keywords that users are actually searching for.
#3: Research Your Competitors
It’s always smart to find out what hashtags your competitors are using. By doing so, you can determine which hashtags provide the most engagement.
While it may not be your intention to compete on those hashtags, you could still end up figuring out what your potential customers are talking about and which hashtags they’re using. And maybe you’ll discover new hashtags to add to your repertoire!
#4: Research Industry Leaders
One of the best ways to find relevant hashtags is by following Instagram influencers that have the same (or similar) target audience as you.
Every industry has its respective key influencers. Find out who these people are in your niche and use their posts as inspiration. These people are already well-established with your target audience, so why not learn from the best?
#5: Find Related Hashtags
Surveying the landscape of trends that are relevant to your own hashtag is an easy and effective way to grow your community.
Simply type your hashtag into the app’s search bar, and then select “tags” from the dropdown menu. You’ll then be able to see all of the top hashtags that are closely related to your own hashtag, revealing additional ways to reach, monitor, and engage with your community.
You can also browse through posts containing a hashtag you’re already having success with. Do you see a trend of any other common hashtags that could be included in future posts? If yes, write them down.
How to Organize Your Instagram Hashtags
It used to be that the best way to organize your hashtags was with a spreadsheet. You would create an Excel sheet with headers like “hashtags,” “category,” “# of posts,” and more, and then actively fill it out as you found new effective hashtags.
Luckily, there’s a better and more time-effective way!
For example, let’s say you run a travel brand and often post photos of beautiful locations around the world. Instead of trying to remember (or find) relevant hashtags for every post, you can use Saved Captions to keep them all organized, so you can quickly add them when scheduling in the future.
If you want to schedule a photo of a beach in San Diego, since you’ve already saved hashtags for different categories, you can we can insert relevant hashtags for beaches, California, travel, and San Diego with just the click of a button!
After you’ve written your caption, just click on “saved captions” and then click on the appropriate hashtag list to instantly add those hashtags to your caption.
Saved Captions is available on all Later plans — including our free plan!
How to Optimize Your Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags on Instagram really can be an effective way to grow your following and engagement, but the best practices are constantly changing.
A great Instagram hashtag strategy doesn’t just reach more people — it reaches the right people for your business. Here are a few ways that you can optimize your Instagram hashtags to reach your target market and grow engagement:
#1: Check Your Instagram Hashtag Analytics
Looking at the performance of the hashtags you’ve used in the past can be a super strategic way to decide what hashtags to use again in the future.
Instagram’s native analytics tool Insights keeps some of this data — you can track how many people landed on your profile based on the hashtags you used:
If you’re on one of Later’s paid plans, you can also use Later’s Hashtag Analytics to track key insights about the hashtags you use, including a breakdown of which hashtags are driving the most likes, comments, impressions, saves, and reach on your Instagram posts.
Plus, as you continue to add new hashtags, you’ll be able to accurately track how they perform for your content.
Instagram Hashtag Analytics are available on all Later business plans, starting at $19/month.
#2: Try to Get Into the “Top” Results for a Hashtag
If you’ve ever searched for a hashtag on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed a grid “Top Posts” at the top of the results page.
It used to be on the mobile Instagram app that you would only see the top 9 posts for each hashtag, but thanks to a recent update, you can now toggle between “Top” and “Recent” posts when searching for a hashtag (note: it’s still just the top 9 posts on the desktop version of Instagram).
Getting in the top posts for a hashtag is a great way to get discovered by new users. Like getting featured on the Explore Page, it can results in a huge network effect that essentially makes your post go viral on Instagram.
So how do you actually get on the Top Posts for a hashtag?
Based on our experience, the two factors that play the biggest role in determining whether a post gets into the top posts for a hashtag are how much engagement the post gets, and how quickly it gets that engagement.
Top posts generally take their position within the first 24 hours of posting, so you need those likes and comments to roll in quickly after posting. If you can generate a lot of engagement on your Instagram post shortly after posting, this signals to Instagram that your post is quality, engaging content.
#3: Include Your Branded Hashtag in Your Instagram Profile
What’s so great about this feature is that it makes your bio even more functional — you can use hashtags for everything from promoting your Instagram community to highlighting your branded content and announcing your Instagram campaigns.
All you have to do is include a “#” before any word in your bio and it will automatically become a clickable link that leads visitors to that hashtag.
#4: Add Instagram Hashtags to Your Stories
A few years ago, Instagram added the ability to add hashtags to your Instagram Stories, giving users yet another way to get their content discovered.
If you want to include hashtags in your Instagram Stories, you can either type your hashtags out with the text tool (you can include up to 10 in your stories) or you can use the hashtag sticker to add a single hashtag of your choice:
#5: Entice Your Followers to Follow Your Branded Hashtag
In a big update from 2018, Instagram added the ability to “follow” hashtags, meaning you can now stay up-to-date on various topics (or communities) by following a hashtag related to your interests.
Following a hashtag works just like following a user’s profile. When you find a hashtag you’d like to follow you simply open the hashtag page and tap on the follow button.
For brands and businesses, this opens up a great opportunity to regularly appear in a follower’s feed. For example, if you have a branded hashtag for your business, you can invite your followers to also follow your unique hashtag.
This means that your content could appear twice in a follower’s feed — once as they follow your profile, and once again as they follow the hashtag. It doubles your chances of engagement!
#6: Run Hashtag-Based Campaigns & Promotions
Contests structured around user-generated content (UGC) are all the rage, and with good reason: they’re fun, popular, and great for both driving engagement and reaching a new audience.
Create a contest where your followers upload photos on Instagram and tag their post with your branded hashtag.
Best Practices for Instagram Hashtags in 2020
Instagram hashtags can be a powerful tool for discovery when used properly — but they can also look spammy and hurt your account when used incorrectly.
Here are some rules to follow to get more from your Instagram hashtags in 2020:
When Should You Use Instagram Hashtags?
The short answer? As often as possible! Whenever you share content on Instagram, whether it’s a post or Instagram story, if your goal is to get it seen by as many people as possible, you need to be using Instagram hashtags.
That being said, there might be occasions where using hashtags isn’t necessary! Like if you’re sharing a personal anecdote or story.
This is more often the case with Instagram Stories than with regular posts (because they tend to be more casual in general), but it varies from case to case. At the end of the day, it’s best to weigh the tone or topic of your post, along with what you’re hoping to achieve, and then decide if it makes sense to use hashtags.
How Many Hashtags Should You Use?
Unfortunately, there’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to deciding how many hashtags you should use. While some experts like Alex Tooby recommend using the maximum number of hashtags allowed, because it gives you more opportunities to be discovered, others recommend using just 5-10.
We’ve seen all sorts of strategies and ideas on how many hashtags make the difference, but at the end of the day, it’s really up to you. If you can find 3
0 super-relevant hashtags to add to each post, then you should definitely go for it.
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However, if you don’t feel comfortable using that many, feel free to opt for less. It’s always okay to experiment with the number of hashtags you use on a post in the search to finding your hashtag sweet spot.
What Hashtags Should You Use?
The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding what hashtags to use is that you’re being intentional — as in, you’re using hashtags that your target audience is actually searching for and following!
According to Tooby, It’s important to switch up your Instagram hashtags in every post to avoid being “spammy.” It’s also a good idea to avoid gimmicky hashtags such as #likeforlike, and hashtags that have been used over 1M times. While these hashtags might get you a few extra likes, they aren’t going to help you grow a highly engaged, targeted following.
Instead, try looking for ultra-niche community hashtags that are specifically relevant to the content you post. It’s not a bad idea to use Saved Captions to build multiple hashtag lists that are organized by theme or category.
For example, if you’re a business that targets small business owners in the fashion industry, you may have multiple hashtags that you use on different topics.
Some may be specifically for small businesses, while others might be about fashion and ecommerce. The key is to collect and categorize them so that when they are used in a post, you can easily tell which pulls in the most engagement on your post.
And don’t forget to use your branded hashtag whenever it makes sense! The first step to getting other users to share your branded hashtag is to use it yourself.
Watch Alex Tooby chat more about Instagram Stories for small businesses, hashtags and building a strategy for success in this video:
Using Instagram hashtags strategically is a great way to connect with customers, find content created about you by your followers, and build long-term relationships with influential partners!
Ready to get moving with your Instagram marketing strategy? Later makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and schedule your Instagram posts!