Wondering how to use hashtags on Instagram?
Trying to make sense of conflicting information?
Here’s all you need to know about:
- What are Instagram hashtags?
- How many hashtags to use on Instagram.
- Using Instagram hashtags in comments, caption, and after posting.
- The most popular Instagram hashtags.
- The best Instagram hashtags for likes.
- Banned Instagram hashtags.
- And exactly how to post Instagram hashtags.
Plus so much more, for #InstaSuccess!
What Are Instagram Hashtags?
You know that pound (#) sign on your keyboard? Just add it before a word and voila, you have a hashtag!
Like #HashtagTips 😉
A hashtag is a word or a group of words preceded by a pound (#) sign, which is used to categorize and find conversations around a particular topic or trend.
On Instagram as well as Twitter (where hashtags started), Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks, hashtags become a link to a collection of other content marked with the same hashtag. So it’s an easy way for people to find the kind of content they’re interested in.
Hashtags serve an additional purpose on Instagram – users can actually “follow” hashtags to see some of that content show up in their feed.
Hashtags also help Instagram understand what your content is about, so they can recommend it to users who’d be interested in it.
These 3 features are why you should use relevant hashtags – you want your content in front of people who will care about it, give it a like, and maybe even follow your account.
How Do I Add Hashtags on Instagram?
When you write an Instagram caption, type a hash mark # followed by your keyword or words.
As you type, Instagram will fill in some popular suggested hashtags, showing the number of posts already using them.
If you see one you’d like to add, simply tap and it’ll be added to your post.
You can also add working hashtags to comments, but only on your own posts. More about this later.
Note that typing a space or punctuation mark will end the hashtag right there. For instance if I type #don’tdothis, the hashtag is going to be #don! Or if I type #instagram marketing, it’ll be #instagram. And you don’t want that!
How Many Instagram Hashtags Can I Use?
Instagram lets you add up to 30 hashtags – but that doesn’t mean you should.
Or should you?
Truth is, there’s no verified answer. You can find a study that backs every idea from using 1-3, through to all 30.
Perhaps because the research results have been inconclusive and unhelpful, no new studies have been done for 3 years. That’s historical in the world of social media.
But in March 2022, Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, explained that hashtags will help Instagram figure out what your content is about. That could increase the likelihood of your content appearing on a hashtag page.
Later he added,
…they’re not going to meaningfully change the amount of reach you get when you post. So if you expect a night-and-day difference, you’re going to be disappointed.
The bottom line, per Instagram, is that more hashtags won’t “meaningfully” increase your reach. You can’t expect twice as many eyeballs on your posts from using twice as many hashtags.
Yet research and users have found that more hashtags = more engagement.
Test it and see
Confused? No surprise there, it’s clear that even Instagram doesn’t know where the sweet spot is.
Many bloggers who specialize in Instagram just go for the full 30 hashtags. It’s never been shown to reduce results.
I cover the latest conflicting announcements from IG and how to test the best number for your own account.
Is There a Maximum of Hashtags on Instagram?
The maximum allowed Instagram hashtags is 30. I recommend you use them all – unless you’re happy with your follower number and engagement.
Want to grow? Use 30 hashtags!
What’s the hack to use 60 hashtags on Instagram?
There used to be a trick where you could first post 30 hashtags in a comment, then go back and edit the photo caption to add 30 more hashtags.
Instagram didn’t notice the hashtags in the caption edit, so you could effectively post a total of 60.
They caught on in 2018, though. So the maximum is 30 Instagram hashtags in 2023. And it’s plenty!
Should I Post Instagram Hashtags in Comments or Caption?
Instagram hashtags may be placed in the photo or video caption at the time you post.
Or, hashtags may be added in a comment (or several comments) after posting.
There’s no difference to their functionality, so it’s your choice.
I prefer adding hashtags in comments, as these are quickly buried once you get a few user comments.
Starting in 2018, the caption is cut off after 2 short lines of text, so caption hashtags don’t show at first glance either.
However, IGers clicking either the “More” tag or the comment icon will see the full caption – including all the hashtags you placed there.
If you write an engaging caption with a call-to-action or question (please do!), people may get distracted by a raft of hashtags and forget to complete your desired action.
This is why I recommend Instagram hashtags in comments rather than captions.
How to Hide Hashtags on Instagram
Want your hashtags in the caption? You can hide them, so they can’t look spammy!
Make them invisible by preceding them with five dashes or periods, each one on a line by itself.
NO space after the period or it won’t work. If you post this in your first comment, IGers will just see […] after your name in the photo stream.
Note: The hashtags are only invisible in the photo stream! If someone clicks to read comments, they will see the hashtags.
It’s easiest to create your hashtag text file in your phone’s Notes app (see image below), and paste it into Instagram. Even though there are now ways to add line breaks on Instagram, it’s a bit clunky to use.
NOTE: If you’re having problems with this trick, it’s almost always because you have a space at the end of your line. It’s a bizarre and annoying quirk, but Instagram will take out the return if there’s a space at the end of the preceding line.
If you’re confused on whether to hide hashtags in a comment or caption, and which actually works better, do a split test! You can do this manually, or for easier comparing, use Tailwind.
Tailwind makes setting up either way easy. Schedule your posts, then automatically publish them to your business account.
Try a week each way, then check Tailwind’s fabulous analytics to see which worked better for you.
Try out Tailwind’s Free Forever plan! No credit card required.
Disclosure: I’m a Tailwind affiliate, which means I may earn a referral fee if you sign up.
Can I add hashtags to someone else’s Instagram post?
No. You can’t add working hashtags by commenting on any other account than the one you’re signed into.
Anyone can comment on someone else’s post with hashtags, but the other IGer’s post won’t appear in that hashtag feed.
If you see people leaving hashtag comments on others’ posts, they may be suggesting that the original poster add that hashtag.
A little helpful advice, perhaps.
Or, they may not know. But generally I see these hashtag comments between groups of IG friends who are helping each other get featured on Instagram hub accounts.
What Are the Most Popular Hashtags on Instagram for 2023?
With Instagram stressing the importance of relevant hashtags as they pivot towards semantic keyword search, I don’t recommend using the most popular hashtags. They’re just not helpful.
Popular tags are definitely not the best way to reach your target audience. In fact, they virtually guarantee fake “bot” likes.
But you want to know what’s trending! So here goes.
The most popular hashtags of all time (according to Later’s data) are:
But the top 50 hashtags for 2023 are a bit different. This list is based on usage within the Later app and updated June 2022.
Here are the 10 best Instagram hashtags for likes, according to All Hashtag, an Instagram analytics tool:
Really want more? Here are the 100 top hashtags from 2021:
However – just because these work for the “average” account doesn’t mean they’ll work for yours. And as I said before, they’re not a great way to reach the right people.
I suggest you get a little more creative with your hashtags. Read on…
Should I use popular Instagram hashtags?
If you’re using 30 hashtags, okay, go ahead and make 1 or 2 of those popular ones.
This will get you some quick likes. However, most of those will be fake, bot likes.
Yes, automated “bot” activity is still a problem on Instagram in 2023.
Use popular tags, and you’ll likely also be the target of annoying follow-unfollow activity.
This is where those rule-breaking IGers use automation to follow accounts they think might follow them back. If you don’t follow back, and sometimes even if you do, they’ll unfollow you later.
Don’t take it personally, as it’s all automated. No one is making any judgement of your account.
Please don’t ever do automated follow-unfollow on Instagram. You risk your account being shadowbanned or even closed.
But back to those top tags, they may work for likes in the first second after you post. Your post will be quickly buried in the hashtag feed.
In addition, they’re often used by spammers and quickly get banned!
Using banned hashtags may put you in league with spammers and arouse Instagram’s suspicions about your account.
Banned Instagram Hashtags 2023
So now you want to know: which hashtags are banned by Instagram?
Unfortunately this is an ever-moving target. According to Markitors.com:
… the hashtag #happythanksgiving was completely overrun with spam, so they banned it. From here on out, if you use the hashtag #happythanksgiving, not only will your content most likely not show up for that hashtag, you might also be flagged for spam. The repetitive use of banned hashtags, leading to multiple flags to your account, could even result in shadow banning or account removal.
Of course, in order to avoid these forbidden hashtags, you have to know which tags are banned. How is anyone supposed to know that #happythanksgiving is considered “spam”?
There are 3 ways to avoid using banned hashtags:
- Don’t use any of the most popular Instagram hashtags.
- Research any hashtag before using it.
- Use Tailwind Hashtag Finder. NO banned hashtags are ever included.
To research currently banned tags, search for a specific hashtag in the search bar.
Click on the hashtag and scroll through the pictures.
If you reach an end where a message says the posts are “currently hidden,” it’s a banned hashtag.
Want to save the hassle of researching banned tags, and find the best assortment of hashtags for your audience?
Or jump in and try it out!
Disclosure: I’m a Tailwind affiliate, which means I may make a referral fee if you sign up.
What Are the Best Instagram Hashtags?
I don’t recommend popular tags, for the reasons stated above.
Here’s what I do recommend:
Use hashtags that are relevant to your niche.
Using specific and relevant hashtags helps you connect with people who are looking for exactly what you’re posting.
You can find relevant tags by searching your keywords in Instagram, or using a site like Hashtagify.me.
Watch what others in your niche are using.
See what your peers and influencers are posting on their photos.
Check out the related tags Instagram suggests when you tap a tag that’s relevant to your content. Try them if they seem useful!
Be sure your hashtags are active.
Check the hashtag feed to see that the tags you’re using are currently being used by others.
Hint: If you scroll down 20 rows and are still finding content posted in the last few seconds, that tag is too active!
Stop using the most popular hashtags like pretty, beautiful, love and similar ones.
Your post will be buried in that feed within milliseconds. In researching this, I also discovered a lot of posts in those tags that I don’t even want to be seen with (some I even felt obligated to report).
If you insist, sprinkle in a few of them, when relevant to your post.
Not necessarily the ones with 100M’s of posts, but one or two over 1M might give you some quick likes.
Note: Your content really needs to be awesome to stand out in a lighting-fast moving tag feed!
Create a branded hashtag for your company or a campaign.
Check that these tags aren’t already being used, particularly in a way you wouldn’t approve of!
Prompt fans and followers to use your tag, and you’ll soon learn just who your superfans are. Support, encourage, and regram them!
Easily find the best hashtags for Instagram!
Try out Tailwind! No credit card required.
Disclosure: I’m a Tailwind affiliate, which means I may earn a referral fee if you purchase a plan.
Can I Add Hashtags to Instagram after Posting?
Once upon a time, using hashtags was easy:
- You posted a bunch with your photo.
- You came back later, deleted those tags, and added a bunch more.
- Magically, your post was bumped to the top of those hashtag feeds, regardless of how long it had been since the original post.
- Your engagement spiked once again.
But Instagram changed all that for us in March 2015.
No matter when you add a hashtag to your photo or video, it will appear in that hashtag feed with other photos and videos posted at its original posting time.
Or as Instagram says:
Keep in mind that if you add a hashtag to a photo after it was posted, the photo will still appear on the hashtag page according to the time it was originally posted, not the time the hashtag was added.
The short answer is yes, you can add hashtags to your own posts after posting.
Popular hashtags must be added immediately, or your post will never surface in those feeds.
If you like, you can delete those later and add niche hashtags in their place.
Personally, I think your time is better spent on creating new Instagram posts.
Why Are my Instagram Hashtags Not Working?
You may be the victim of a shadowban.
A shadowban hides your Instagram posts from users who don’t follow you, which can be detrimental to growing your account and getting more followers.
If you get shadowbanned on Instagram, only you and your current followers will see your post when they search for the hashtags you used. If someone who doesn’t follow your account searches for one of those hashtags, they won’t see your post!
This defeats the purpose of using strategic hashtags to grow your Instagram community.
I’ve even had readers say they can’t find their own posts in the hashtag feeds! This could also be due to shadowban. Or, as IG calls it, “issues with hashtag search.”
Instagram doesn’t admit there is such a thing, by the way, so don’t expect to get help from them.
You can use the “Report a Problem” feature in your account settings under “Support.” I no longer get a reply when I do this, but it can’t hurt.
I would suggest saying “my post isn’t showing in the hashtag feeds” and not use the word “shadowban.”
How Can I Avoid Being Shadowbanned?
Instagram shadowbanning is sometimes a result of spammy behavior.
However, some normal behavior is also getting users shadowbanned:
- Repeated use of the same hashtag group within 24 hours.
- Using “broken” or banned hashtags.
Sometimes a normal, everyday hashtag can be banned.
Popular tags are often used on content that violates IG community guidelines. Then Instagram might block the hashtag outright, meaning you can’t even search for it on IG, or they’ll limit the posts shown in that hashtag feed.
With the shadowban, it appears that even if you use a single banned hashtag in your post, Instagram will prevent your post from appearing on any of the hashtags you used!
So, you could search each hashtag feed individually for evidence that a tag is broken or banned. Don’t use those!
OR, just make your life easier by using Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder!
It will give you fresh, related choices so you’re not repeating the same hashtag group, and it will only suggest tags that are Instagram-approved!
To try Tailwind Hashtag Finder, click here.
Disclosure: I’m a Tailwind affiliate, which means I may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase a plan.
How to Post Instagram Hashtags for Best Results
If you insist on using uber-popular hashtags, you MUST post them in your post caption.
If you wait even a second to post them in a comment, they’re pretty much worthless, as your post will be buried in that hashtag feed the instant you add it.
If you post hashtags in several comments, post the more popular ones first.
Post hashtag comments in the order of how fast the hashtag feeds move!
Niche hashtags CAN still be added at a later date!
DON’T bother adding hashtags where the original date of your post would have it buried deeply in the feed – BUT there are some cool super-niche hashtags that have only several hundred to a few thousand posts in them. Many of these even have avid fans!
For easiest hashtagging, keep groups of 30 hashtags in your phone’s Notes app.
Create and save a set of 30 tags for each type of post you make (or less than 30 if you insist 😉 ).
Copy your hashtag group before you make your IG post!
Then you have them ready on your clipboard to add in a comment immediately. No fumbling, no wasting valuable seconds. Or, set up a text shortcut!
Conclusion: Do This for Instagram Hashtag Success!
Make your Instagramming easy!
Sign up for Tailwind and see how simple posting can be.
Disclosure: I’m a Tailwind affiliate, which means I may make a referral fee if you sign up.
Use 11 to 30 hashtags to grow your account.
Hide your hashtags in a comment with . and return, 5 times.
Use more hashtags relevant to your niche.
- What are your keywords?
- What are peers/competitors/influencers using?
- What does Instagram suggest as related?
Use fewer (or none) of the most popular hashtags.
Choose hashtags that are actively used (but not too active!).
Create a custom tag for your brand or campaign.
- Be sure to check first to see if it’s already being used.
- Promote your tag’s use by followers.
- Engage / shout out your fans who use it!
Keep hashtag groups in your phone’s Notes app.
- One group for each type of content you post.
- Copy them to your clipboard before you post content.
- Follow up immediately with hashtags in a comment.
Bonus tip: Your hashtags will magically work much better if you’re posting awesome visuals! People are scanning those hashtag feeds, and you need to stand out.
Well done! Learning how to use hashtags on Instagram will help your account grow.
Learn how to grow your Instagram followers 10 more ways!