The One Instagram Hashtag Strategy That Works for Anyone

This post takes you through 5 simple steps to create an Instagram hashtag strategy that will work for anyone!

Imagine Instagram as a huge hotel full of guests. Your Instagram profile is just one of millions of rooms somewhere up on the twenty thousandth floor. Sure, your friends may stop in from time to time, but otherwise there’s not much going on.

Where do you go to meet new people? Maybe even find new customers?

Like any good hotel, Instagram has a ton of common spaces – ballrooms, gardens, shops, restaurants, dog parks, and conference rooms – but on Instagram, these common spaces are hashtags. There’s a hashtag for nearly every clique, mood, emotion, aesthetic, and interest on Instagram, so you should be able to find the exact people you’re looking for – you just have to find the right hashtag.

There's a hashtag for every interest, mood & aesthetic on Instagram - you just have to find it. Click to Tweet

With the right hashtag strategy you’ll be finding the perfect tags for every post, and by using them you’ll reach more of the right people. What’s more, those people will be just the right people to help you drive your business objectives, whatever they may be. Sounds good, right? To help you get there we’ve put together this comprehensive 5 step Instagram hashtag strategy guide.

*If you need to start with the basics we’ve got you covered too with -> How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

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Step 1 – What Am I Trying to Achieve?

Define Your Business Objective

Here’s what Instagram for Business have said about choosing hashtags.

Instagram for Business

Instagram for Business

“When developing content we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags. Having a growth strategy that targets the right audience is essential to success on Instagram.”

This is great advice that points to a fundamental truth about marketing, that it’s rarely successful when it reaches everybody, and more often successful when it reaches the right people with the right message.

If your business objectives require you to reach new people, as opposed to people who already know about you, then hashtags will be an important part of your Instagram marketing strategy. How important? Really important. According to Track Maven, Instagram posts that use hashtags get more interactions (likes and comments), with posts containing 9 hashtags performing best (More than 2.5x as well as posts using just 1 hashtag).

How Many Hashtags to Use on Instagram Posts - Track Maven statistics graph

“While engagement starts to decrease after this peak (of 9 hashtags), posts with more than nine hashtags still have higher engagement than posts with fewer than eight hashtags. This suggests that on Instagram, it’s always better to err on the side of more hashtags rather than fewer.” – Track Maven

Business objectives that benefit from a hashtag strategy:

  • As an Instagram Influencer I want to grow my Instagram following so I can charge sponsors more to promote their products
  • As a blogger/media site I want to grow traffic to my website or blog so that I can get more interest from advertisers
  • As a business I want to reach new customers and expand my customer base

In each of these cases you’re looking to reach people who are willing to take a meaningful action, to follow you, to click on the link in your bio, to actually become a customer and buy something from you.

You’re not just looking for anyone, you’re looking for some fairly specific people – your people.

Step 2 – Finding Your Customers

Who Am I Trying to Reach and What Interests Them?

You probably know who you’re looking for, either by instinct, because you interact with your audience on social media, or because you’ve spoken to hundreds of your customers in the past, or maybe you’ve done the research and built out buyer personas.

Now it’s time to bring that knowledge to bear. Think of the common spaces in that gigantic hotel that is Instagram and ask yourself, where do the people I’m looking for hang out?

Getting beyond the first word that comes to mind

Hashtag brainstorming is probably best illustrated with an example: If you make men’s denim jeans for male skateboarders the first words that come to mind as you think about ways your customers might categorize your products might be “jeans” and “denim”. Both of these are very popular hashtags.

There have been nearly 15 million posts posted to #jeans in the past, and nearly 10 million to #denim. They’re great words to start with, but they’re so obvious that they’re overused, and overused hashtags get posted to thousands of times a day, so your content quickly gets buried, and not just buried, but buried by a lot of poor quality posts that make browsing the hashtag not very enjoyable for people.

If we were to assume that #jeans has received the same frequency of usage since Instagram started supporting hashtags in January 2011 then that single hashtag gets used 6,183 times a day. To go back to the hotel analogy, these hashtags are in the busy lobby – there are so many people down there that nobody can hear you speak.

Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder tool grades both #jeans and #denim as “competitive”, meaning that you’re unlikely to get much additional reach from them. They’re long shots, although it may still be worth including them in your Instagram hashtag strategy on the off chance that you’ll appear in the “Top Posts” section. Your post appears in “Top Posts” when it receives enough engagement over a short period of time to convince Instagram that it is more popular than other posts tagged with that hashtag that were posted within a similar timeframe.

Posts per day on Instagram to hashtags from popular to niche

As this chart explains, hashtags with more than a few million posts to date will receive more than 1,000 new posts per day. That’s a lot of competition for “Top Posts”, but it’s also a lot of posts per minute pushing your post down the feed of “Recent Posts”.

A post to a hashtag like #ilovemycat with around 10 million posts already on it will be pushed out of the first 9 posts visible in the feed in about 3 minutes. That might not be long enough for it to gain much additional engagement from the hashtag.

An Instagram post to a tag with 10m posts will get pushed out of the first 9 posts in 3 minutes Click to Tweet

Hashtag brainstorming

So how do you get beyond the obvious hashtags that everyone is using? We recommend that you start by brainstorming to get a richer spread of keywords. Try to brainstorm within categories. We like the following categories which range from the very broad to the very focused, and so should help you to generate hashtags of all different sizes.

  • Interests: What are our customers interested in?
  • Media: What media do they consume?
  • Brand Affinities: What similar but non-competing brands do they also like?
  • Locations: Where geographically, or virtually, can they be found?
  • Problems: What problems does our product solve for them?
  • Product Categories: What are all the ways our product can be categorized?
  • Branded: What hashtags specific to our brand are they using?

As we travel down this list we’re going from categories that very broadly match our customers’ interests, to categories that are very narrowly focused in on our customers and our product’s role in their lives. The top of the list is great for getting wide exposure and showcasing your products to people who might have never considered them, whereas the bottom of the list is more effective at speaking to the smaller group of customers who already self-identify as potential customers either of products like yours, of your category of products, or even of your brand. The whole spectrum should be considered in a comprehensive Instagram hashtag strategy.

Lina and David from Divergent Travelers

Lina and David from Divergent Travelers

Pro Tip: “We’re very strategic about what Instagram hashtags we use. With each photo we post, we aim to reach a unique and specific audience that we think will respond well to the image. We start with a core base of hashtags to draw attention from large followings in the travel sector. We then use the subject and destination of the photo to dictate which other hashtags we want to target. The idea is to target people that are already interested in the subject we are showcasing.”

Here are some brainstormed terms from our example maker of men’s skater jeans.

  • Interests: Men’s fashion
  • Media: GQ
  • Brand Affinities: Vans
  • Locations: Skatepark
  • Problems: How do I put together an outfit?
  • Product Categories: Men’s denim jeans for skaters
  • Branded: Our brand

Next we have to turn these into actual hashtags.

Step 3 – Hashtag Research

Mapping Your Customers’ Interests to Specific Hashtags They Use

Using Instagram’s search bar autocomplete

Traditionally, Instagram hashtag research has been done by with Instagram’s native search bar. The process is fairly simple but somewhat arduous. Once you have your brainstormed terms, like the ones we came up with above, you type a hashtag into Instagram’s search bar followed by one of those terms and Instagram’s autocomplete will try to predict the hashtags that you want to use based on how popular they are and how closely they seem match your query.

Instagram Hashtag Research Using Instagram's Search Bar Autocomplete

In this instance, starting with #mens Instagram suggests #mensfashion, #mensstyle and #menswear. All of these might be useful for our jeans brand, but they have all been posted to millions, or tens of millions of times, meaning posts using those hashtags will get quickly buried (Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder rates all three of these hashtags as “Competitive”).

As we keep typing we are offered the options #mensstreetwear and #mensstreetstyle. These are a good fit for our imaginary brand of jeans and range in popularity from 15,000 posts to 146,000 posts. (Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder rates these hashtags as respectively “Good” and “Best”).

Once we type out the whole of #mensstreetwear we can see that there really aren’t any other decent sized hashtags with that phrase as the root. If we’re going to keep looking for hashtags we’ll need to start again, perhaps with a new root term.

Finding less popular hashtags

One of the problems with Instagram’s autocomplete for hashtag research is that it heavily weights its suggested hashtags based on what you’ve already written in the search bar. Invariably there are a whole bunch of great hashtags out there that don’t start with the word you started writing. Instagram doesn’t provide a good way to find these less intuitive hashtags, leaving a lot of great tags on the table.

Some of these less common hashtags may adhere to one of the following hashtag conventions that are often seen on Instagram, and an awareness of them might help you find them.

  • Combine the word “Insta” with your term (as in: #instastyle or #instajeans)
  • Combine the word “gram” with your term (as in: #stylegram or #selfiegram)
  • Add the word “life” to the end of your hashtag (as in: #stylelife or #streetlife)
  • Add “ofinstagram” or “ofig” to your hashtag (as in: #menofinstagram or #fashionofinstagram)
  • Add “oftheday” or the abbreviated “otd” to your hashtag (as in: #outfitoftheday, #selfieofthenight)

We’d love for you to suggest more Instagram hashtag conventions in the comments.

Why difficult-to-find hashtags are often better for getting engagement

Even after trying all of the combinations you can think of it’s likely that you’re still missing hashtags. The more difficult a hashtag is to find the more likely that it has high quality, on-topic content (because if people don’t know about it they can’t spam it!). The higher the quality content on a hashtag, the more likely it is that a community will form around it, visit it regularly and contribute to it meaningfully.

The more difficult an Instagram hashtag is to find the more valuable it is Click to Tweet

These are the kinds of hashtags you should be looking for.

Data from a Track Maven study suggests that longer hashtags get more engagement on average. Since longer hashtags are often less obvious, this seems to support the idea that you should steer clear of very common hashtags and aim for ones with a smaller, but more engaged audience.

How long should the Instagram hashtags I use be - Track Maven statistics graph

“Hashtags that perform best are 21 characters in length, with an average engagement of 30,394 interactions per post, and 24 characters in length, with an average engagement of 18,491 interactions per post.” – Track Maven

Donna Hull from

Donna Hull, myitchytravelfeet

Pro Tip: “One of my Instagram hashtag strategies is to visit some of the hashtags that I’m using to interact with other users of the hashtag by liking and commenting on their Instagram posts. It’s a great way to gain engaged followers.” 



#stylegrid is a good example of this kind of hashtag. It has a small but engaged audience and is filled with consistently high-quality, on-topic content that might appeal to customers of our imaginary skater jeans company. This is a hashtag that it would be easy for a jeans brand to contribute to in a positive and organic way, whilst showcasing its products. Yet it would take some digging to find it through the Instagram search bar.

So how else can we find hashtags?

One way you might find these kinds of hashtags is as “related hashtags” when you visit a hashtag in the Instagram app. These suggestions are still weighted towards the wording of the original hashtag (in this example for instance all of the recommended hashtags contain the word “mens”), although they vary a little more than what you’ll find with autocomplete on on your desktop computer.

Related Hashtags in the Instagram App

Another way to find good hashtags that aren’t over-used is by finding posts like your post and seeing the hashtags they use. You might want to check out your competitor’s posts too for ideas.

Moving beyond autocomplete to find hashtags used in similar contexts

Rather than predicting hashtags based on what you’ve already started writing, Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder predicts them on contextual clues it gets from your caption.

Just start typing your caption and Hashtag Finder will immediately start recommending hashtags that are used in similar contexts – it’s a completely different way of suggesting hashtags that offers up a totally different set of suggestions.

Moving beyond Instagram autocomplete to contextual hashtag recommendations with hashtag finder

As you can see in this example, whilst Instagram autocomplete quickly exhausts itself recommending hashtags that contain the same root word, Tailwind Hashtag Finder presents fresh hashtags that you might not think of. Where Instagram autocomplete sees #mensstyle and recommends #mensstyles, Tailwind sees it and recommends #dapper.

Instagram Autocomplete sees #mensstyle & suggests #mensstyles. @Tailwindapp suggests #dapper ? Click to Tweet

The more words you type in your caption the better able Hashtag Finder is to predict the context and the more relevant hashtags it will suggest. It’s kind of magic to watch, as this two minute demo video illustrates.

Hashtag Finder is part of Tailwind for Instagram

Try it free
Signup for Tailwind for Instagram

(Need more on how to find hashtag? We’ve written extensively about how to do quick, effective Instagram Hashtag Research)

Step 3 – Evaluating Hashtags

Don’t Just Add Hashtags, Understand Them

If you’re going to understand what a hashtag really is and whether you want to use it you have to do more than focus on the one piece of data you get from Instagram’s search bar (the number of posts to that hashtag).

Evaluating an individual hashtag:

  1. Does this hashtag appeal to your customers?
  2. Will your post fit in on the hashtag? Is it the kind of content that people who visit that hashtag are looking for? If not, it likely won’t get additional engagement from being there anyway, and may create a negative impression of your brand.
  3. How much engagement are posts on the hashtag getting? (Are there a lot of posts to the hashtag with little or no engagement? Do the top posts have good engagement?)
  4. How many posts have been made to this hashtag (it overly popular? Is it under-used?)
  5. Can your posts be competitive on this hashtag? (Ideally you want to feature as a “Top Post”. Will your post get the kind of engagement within a few hours that will allow it to compete with the current top posts? If not you might consider using less competitive hashtags).
  6. Does an Instagram account with a large relevant following regram from this hashtag? Some hashtags are used by brands and feature accounts to find content for regramming (re-posing someone else’s Instagram post). Since regrams come with attribution, this can be a viable growth strategy.
  7. Is the hashtag spammy? Will a presence there attract spam comments to your posts which maybe off-putting to your community? Will being there look bad for your brand? For instance using #like4like or #followme is almost certainly a bad idea for any legitimate company. In all likelihood those are not followers who will engage in any meaningful way with you in the future anyway.
  8. Will using the hashtag have unintended connotations? Is it inadvertently edgy, political or negative in some way?
  9. Has the hashtag been “banned”? It has been reported that using “banned” (0r more accurately, deactivated) hashtags can result in a Shadowban that prevents your account from getting any additional reach to new people through hashtags. The truth is, using a “banned” hashtag will prevent your post from appearing in the hashtag results for that hashtag, but not for the others you used. To see if you are about to use a “banned” hashtag, search every hashtag you intend to use and if there’s no “Top Posts” section and you can only see the last few post, it’s possible that spammers have targeted that hashtag with Not Safe for Work (NSFW) content and gotten it “banned” by Instagram. The “banned” hashtags on Instagram are constantly changing, and we have no way to keep an updated list, so don’t worry too much about it. Your other hashtags are still working to help your content get discovered.

Mapping brainstormed terms to real hashtags

Here’s how our brainstormed ideas for our imaginary brand of mens jeans for skaters might map to real hashtags we could use on a variety of Instagram posts.

A chart showing Instagram hashtag brainstorming by category from broad to targeted with grades from Tailwind Hashtag Finder

A part of any good Instagram hashtag strategy is streamlining your workflow. Now that you have found a lot of highly relevant hashtags for all kinds of different posts you can save yourself a lot of time by turning them into hashtag lists. Many marketers use notes on their phone to save hashtag lists. If you’re a Tailwind for Instagram member you can save hashtag lists directly in the app.

Tailwind for Instagram Hashtag ListsAt a minimum you should maintain different hashtag lists for the different types of content that you regularly post. For instance at Tailwind our weekly Instagram editorial calendar includes posts with Instagram Tips, Instagram Stats, Inspirational quotes and blog posts. We maintain a list of hashtags for each of these reoccurring topics and can add all of the hashtags in that list in a couple of quick clicks in the Tailwind app.

Whilst hashtag lists are a great way to save time when you post, you should also be sure to update your lists semi-regularly as hashtags burn out and new hashtags emerge all the time. In fact some Instagram users have reported receiving a Shadowban on their account which they believe is due to posting to the same hashtags over and over again. Might be time to freshen up your hashtag lists!

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Step 4 – Use Hashtags the Right Way

Now That You’ve Found Great Hashtags, You’ll Want to Deploy Them Correctly

There are just a few more things to consider to make your hashtag strategy tight.

How many hashtags should you use?

The Track Maven study mentioned at the top of this post suggested that the optimal number of Instagram hashtags to use on a post is 9 or more. The maximum number of hashtags that can be used on any Instagram post is 30.

Some marketers don’t see any disadvantage to using the maximum compliment of 30 hashtags, while others see that as overly promotional and limit themselves to fewer. Some brands have a large enough audience that they don’t feel they need to use hashtags at all. Others continue to use hashtags and benefit from additional followers when they appear in the “Top Posts” sections of relevant, popular hashtags.

The best answer to the question of how many hashtags you should use is that you should experiment and see what works for you and for your Instagram hashtag strategy. At Tailwind before we launched Hashtag Finder we spent the time to research about 15 hashtags for each of our posts through the Instagram search bar. With hashtag finder we’ve been able to quickly double that and now regularly send our posts out with a full complement of 30 relevant hashtags, often added in-the-moment, keeping them fresh.

Getting the right balance of popular and niche hashtags

When you use hashtags on Instagram the goal is to reach more people and get more engagement. What balance of popular and niche hashtags is best to maximize engagement?

Peg Fitzpatrick co-author of The Art of Social Media

Peg Fitzpatrick co-author of The Art of Social Media

Pro Tip: “A smart move is to use a variety of hashtags: one or two very popular (with millions of results), a group of targeted hashtags that are popular with 100,000 or more search results, and some that aren’t as popular. You’ll want to stay on brand for your content with all your hashtags and don’t use unrelated hashtags as this is spammy and won’t help your growth.”


At Tailwind we’re having success with an Instagram hashtag strategy that we think covers all these bases.

  • 2-6 popular hashtags: It’s a good idea to add a few very popular or “Competitive” hashtags to your post. These are your Hail Mary passes, your long shots. Often these tags will have over a million posts already and you’ll be gone from the top of the feed in minutes. Don’t count on them generating a lot of engagement for you unless you make it into the “Top Posts” section, but it may be worth a shot.If your post happens to generate a lot of engagement from other hashtags, inclusion of a popular tag might really pay off as it might push you into the “Top Posts” there too, which is the equivalent of going viral on Instagram. “Competitive” hashtags are salmon colored in Hashtag Finder.
  • 7-24 fairly popular hashtags: The bulk of your hashtags should be in a more moderate range, likely your post will be able to be more relevant to these tags, and they will be in the sweet spot of usage where they can generate a lot of attention. The good news is your posts may stick around for about hour at the top of “Recent Posts” even if they don’t happen to make it into the “Top Posts”. In Hashtag Finder these kinds of hashtags are often color-coded green and labeled “Good” or “Best”.
  • 1-3 niche hashtags: Sandwich this off with any “Niche” hashtags that are especially relevant to your posts. These might include branded hashtags, either your own or other people’s, as well as hashtags used by niche communities, or small subsets of larger communities. The right post on the right niche hashtag can generate a reasonable amount of engagement.

Recommended blend of Instagram Hashtags

Where to place your hashtags

You can place your hashtags in your caption, or, if you prefer to keep your captions looking pretty you can post them in the first comment. Instagram’s algorithm is time sensitive though, meaning it looks at engagement from the second your image is posted, so you’ll want to add your hashtag comment immediately to create engagement fast. A third option is to use styling (periods and line breaks) to hide your hashtags below the “more” button. This works since Instagram cuts off captions after three lines.  Here’s more on how and where to add Instagram hashtags to your posts.

Whatever you decide is the right posting strategy for your Instagram hashtags you should try to be consistent.

We condensed 12 months of research into this Instagram Marketing 101 Webinar. If you’re enjoying this article, you’ll love it. 

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Step 5 – Evaluating the Success of Your Hashtags Over Time

The Final Step of any Good Strategy is to Evaluate it on an Ongoing Basis

Evaluating the success of an Instagram hashtag strategy is maddeningly difficult because there’s no transparency into how much engagement your post received from any given hashtag. Since your posts will likely have a dozen or more hashtags it’s almost impossible to know which particular hashtag drove additional engagement, unless you happen to end up as a “top post”. Most of the evaluation of the effectiveness of any given hashtag that goes on happens at a more instinctive level – marketers just get a feel for what’s working and what isn’t. That’s far from ideal.

One of the most effective things that you can do for your hashtag strategy is to go back to Step 1 and ask the question – which of my posts are helping me to reach my business goals. If one specific type of post seems to drive a specific business goal do more of it, or figure out a similar style of post that might also work.

By changing your Instagram editorial strategy in this way you will inevitably impact your hashtag strategy, since different types of posts require different hashtags.

Discover what hashtags (and what content) is working for you

We use the Post Inspector in Tailwind for Instagram to track how often any given hashtag is associated with a successful post.

Type in the hashtag you’re interested in evaluating in the search bar of Post Inspector and all posts with that hashtag in the caption (but not in the comments) will appear. Click on “Likes” to sort these according to the ones with the most likes (you can do the same for “Comments”).

In the following screenshots you can see how Post Inspector tells us, at a glance, that posts in our #instatip series get more engagement than those in our #instastats series.

Using Tailwind Post Inspector to See How Many Likes and Comments Received from a Given Hashtag-2

Using Tailwind Post Inspector to See How Many Likes and Comments Received from a Given Hashtag

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the hashtags are to blame, it might be that our tips are better than our stats, that our audience prefer tips to stats, that our tips designs are better, that the other hashtags we use with tips posts are stronger, or a combination of all of these (and more!).

Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue with the assertion that tips posts are generating more likes for us overall than stats posts, and so you could make a case that we should do more tips posts, or more posts that are like tips posts.

Tie it back to your business objective.

At Tailwind we have seen a lot of engagement on Instagram, and are consistently growing our organic reach through the social network (it grew 61% last month and is now double our organic Facebook organic reach!). Instagram is becoming an important part of how we reach members, and despite Instagram not sending much traffic, the quality of the traffic it does send is high.

Our business objective with Instagram is to build an audience that we can reach organically and inspire and empower them to do great marketing through our content. That ties directly into the Tailwind mission statement which is “To make world class marketing easy for everyone”.

You can see how a hashtag strategy that contains tags like #instatips and #instastats helps us fulfill our mission, and we’d encourage you to create a hashtag strategy for yourself to do the same.

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This infographic takes you through 5 simple steps to create an Instagram hashtag strategy

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5 simple steps to create an Instagram hashtag strategy that will work for anyone!


How to Create and Use Hashtag Lists for Instagram

How to Create and Use Hashtag Lists for Instagram

Do you have a problem keeping your digital assets organized to post on Instagram?

Have you wondered why similar accounts have grown and your posts seem to be lacking similar engagement?

This is why you need hashtag lists for Instagram!

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How to use hashtag lists for Instagram

Many Instagrammers use pre-selected groups of hashtags for their posts which they’ll add/remove on the fly depending on the post. These hashtags are often-times researched and saved on their iPhone Notes section, email, or Evernote on their desktop computer. We’ll call these hashtag lists.

We’ve come up with a better solution! You can now add hashtag lists in your Tailwind app. Yes!!! Read how to add them in How to Use Hashtag Lists in Tailwind for Instagram

How to create a hashtag list on your desktop with Tailwind

Build out groups of hashtags for different types of content that you’ll post on Instagram. Being organized will help you use hashtags consistently and bring more people to your posts on Instagram.

You can use your branded hashtags to build your community and find their posts in the future.

The hashtags are grouped by topic/niche and are typically researched ahead of time via a couple different methods:

  • off the top of their head
  • via Google search for “best hashtags in niche
  • seeing what other people use in their posts (eg “big brands” in their niche or friends)

Hashtag lists in Tailwind rock!

Some people vet their hashtags by looking at performance on Instagram. A few things to think about:

  • overall media count on Instagram – if the count is extremely high then your post will likely not get seen in the mix; if the count is low then not many people are looking at this hashtag. There is no general consensus on what counts define on different ends of that spectrum.
  • types of media that use that hashtag – to see if the content being posted fits their niche/what they plan to be posting.

Overall, hashtag lists are not updated very often but will be used with pretty much every post made to Instagram.

How hashtags are typically added on Instagram posts

  • in the post caption itself either straight up at the bottom
  • with some additional spacing at the bottom so it’s not visible above the “read more” fold
  • in the first comment after the post is live

Since Instagram is all about the aesthetic, people tend to find the giant list to be ugly which is why they try to hide it via spacing or first comment. Here’s more on how and where to add Instagram hashtags.

There is a maximum of 30 hashtags available total between the post and comments. If you try to add more than 30, Instagram won’t post your caption or comment.

Instagrammers typically have about five groups of hashtags that they use on a regular basis.

Here are some frustrations many people have with hashtags

Don’t know which ones are effective – there isn’t a widely-used/definitive resource on choosing them.  Or there wasn’t until Tailwind launched its Instagram Hashtag Finder which suggests related hashtags categorized by “Good”, “Best”, “Niche” and “Competitive”.

Even after using them, it’s hard and/or cumbersome. [hint: we have a solution!]

Hashtag lists in Tailwind rock!

How many hashtags should you use?

According to a study by Simply Measured, 88% of brand posts include at least one hashtag.

The number of hashtags is a personal choice – if you have an account under 1,000 followers, you’ll probably want to max out your hashtags at thirty so you can grow.

91% of posts by top brands have seven or fewer hashtags but they’ve already made a considerable effort into growing an engaged Instagram following.

You might want to start by setting a robust Instagram hashtag strategy <– that post will show you how. Create several different hashtag lists for Instagram and test them to see what number of hashtags gets the most engagement on your account. Testing and experimenting to find your own sweet spot could be the key.

How to find hashtags to add to your lists:

  • Create your own branded hashtag that isn’t just your own brand name e.g. #welltraveled for Herschel – this allows other people to fit into the hashtag as well
  • Look at hashtags that your competitors or influential people in your space use
  • Use more niche-specific hashtags to get more targeted audience reach e.g. #vwvan vs #van
  • Find hashtags that have a dedicated community around them for your targeted audience
  • Use localized hashtags e.g. hashtags like #sanfranciscoeats or #sffoodie will draw the attention of local foodies in the area, or those looking for a new restaurant to try
  • Check out other posts using that hashtag to verify your content will “add to the conversation” and is relevant
  • Try Hashtag Finder in Tailwind for Instagram. It suggests the best hashtags for your post as you type your caption.

Find hashtags where you can get into the “Top 9 Posts” for the hashtag – these are hashtags that aren’t overly popular but still engaged with people posting on a regular basis. There’s an unknown algorithm to the Top Posts for a hashtag page and it’s a mix of likes, comments, and amount of reach for the post.

Instagram suggests, “After tagging the photo with relevant and specific tags, you may also find that people sharing photos similar to yours are using even more specialized tags that you hadn’t thought of originally. In our photo, we found that photos tagged #vw and #vwvan also use #vwbus.”

Other Caption Best Practices

  • Tagging at least one other person increase engagement (influential or relevant people)
  • Geotagging also increases engagement

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How do the pros use Instagram hashtags?

Hashtag suggestions from Jenn Herman of Jenn’s Trends: “For example, I tag my blog post notices with #socialmedia (which produces hundreds of thousands of results), #socialmediamarketing (which produces thousands of results), and #socialmediatips (which produces hundreds of results). By covering all three ranges, my post’s visibility is guaranteed to be higher than if I only used one of the tags.”

Popular Instagrammer Chalene Johnson of IGImpactOfficial says, “When you post your hashtags, post them in a comment after your initial caption. Although you can edit your caption, Instagram may be changing their algorithm soon to decrease the reach/visibility of edited posts in your followers newsfeeds. Post your hashtags in a comment after the initial post is completed.”

Sue B. Zimmerman, The Instagram Expert recommends using locations and emotions in your hashtags.

Location  – Geotag or add locations relevant to your post or business  i.e. where you are posting from or the town/city in which your business is based

Emotions – Hashtag how what you do makes you feel, how you are feeling that day or how the post topic makes you feel. i.e. #energetic #pure #natural

Did you know that you can use emoji hashtags on Instagram? #? You can! Click to Tweet

A recap of hashtag best practices:

  • One brand hashtag (example: #Tailwind)
  • 1-2 hashtags could be hashtags you’ve created (example: #TailwindTribe, #TailwindVibe)
  • 2-5 should be community-centric hashtags (examples: #PinterestLover #InstagramTool)
  • Pick one or two popular hashtags
  • If your post is relevant, try to hit one of the trending hashtags like #motivationmonday or #sundayselfie
  • Use up to thirty hashtags but make sure they’re all relevant to your post
  • Be consistent to build solid brand awareness

Don’t forget to mention influential and relevant users in captions to engage new audiences. Keep in mind that you don’t want to come across as spammy.

Love is the most popular hashtag on Instagram

Another way to grow your audience is to find hashtags where you can be featured on their account. Many feature accounts have these listed in their bio. Instagram hosts their own hashtag feature account project called Weekend Hashtag Project and the topic changes each week. Instagram’s instructions are “Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags. For a chance to be featured, follow Instagram and look for a post every week announcing the latest project.”

Tailwind can help with your hashtag lists for Instagram

A big update we’ve added to the Tailwind for Instagram app is hashtag list management. This will allow you to save hashtags in the app and use them right when you’re posting to Instagram. Creating them on desktop makes it easy to be accurate. Set them up once and use on all your Instagram posts for the maximum amount of impact for your content.

Learn more here: How to Use Hashtag Lists in Tailwind for Instagram

We’d like to give you some suggestions for hashtag lists for Instagram that you can add to your Tailwind app for maximizing your Instagram exposure and potential. Take them and customize them to match your Instagram theme and goals.

Remember to be smart with your hashtag choices and you’ll reach people who will be interested in your posts.

Add hashtag lists to your Tailwind for Instagram account


#barista #coffeeart #coffee #coffeelover #espresso #latteart #instacoffee #coffeegeek #coffeeshots #coffeencloths #coffeeshop #coffeesesh #butfirstcoffee #coffeeaddict #coffeeporn #coffeegram #coffeeculture #morningslikethese #darlingweekend #finditliveit #cupsinframe


#tea #teabar #cupoftea #teatime #drinktea #maketeanotwar #matcha #matchalatte #matchagreentea #matchatea #greentea


#creativityfound #createcommune #createexploretakeover #creative_instaarts #artofvisuals #makersgonnamake #creativelifehappylife #creativityfound #creativeminds #calledtobecreative


#thehappynow #thedarlingmovement #pursuepretty #flashesofdelight #petitejoys #Livethelittlethings #finditliveit #howyouglow #instagood #instadaily #liveauthentic #otb #ontheblog


#quoteoftheday #quotestoliveby #dailyquote #quoted #quotesforlife #quotesofinstagram #quoting #instaquote #instaquoting #quoteme #liveunscripted #liveauthentic #wordstoliveby #inspirationalquotes #thatslovely #thehappynow


#instatravel #travelgram #love #traveling #instagood #instapassport
#bestofthday #instalove #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty #passionpassport #darlingescapes #letsgosomewhere #travelblogger #theprettycities #iamtraveler #wanderlust #beautifuldestinations #worldcaptures


#fitness #fitnessaddict #fitnessjourney #fitnessfreak #fitnessmodels #fitgirls_inspire #fitfood #yogaeverydamnday #yogalove #yogachallenge #yogalife #yogadaily #yogafit #yogafan #acroyoga #acroyogalove #vinyasa #vinyasagram #instayoga


#thegrindisreal #staymotivated #stayfocused #beconsistent #workhard? #worksmart #liveyourdream #achieveyourgoals #achieveyourdreams #selfemployed #selfempowermen t#entrepreneurialmindset #positivemindset #workfromhome #workfromanywhere #digitalentrepreneur #entrepreneurlifestyle


#femaleentrepreneur #workfromanywhere #theinstagramplan #solopreneur #bossladies  #womeninbiz #creativeentrepreneur #girlboss #mycreativebiz #womeninbusiness #womenentrepreneurs #instatidechallenge #ladyboss #bossbabes #beyourownboss #communityovercompetition #empowerwomen #theeverygirl #risingtidesociety #entrepreneurlife #buldinganempire #businesschicks


#mytabletop #oneofthebunch #eatingnyc #zagat #f52grams #huffposttaste #nycfat #eatupnewyork #newforkcity #feedyoursoull #buzzfeedfoods #foodspotting #eastcoastfoodies #westcoastfoodies #igfood #instaeats #foodporn #onthetable #foodiegram #handsinframe #foodgasm #foodphotography #foodart #foodstyling #cupsinframe

#food #foodie #foodporn #eat #delicious #yummy #foodspotting #foodgasm #foodstagram #instafood #mylittleeats #restaurant #foodhub #dailylicious #eatandshout #starvingtime


#booksandbeans #currentlyreading #reading  #bookish #booksandcoffee #booknerd #booklover #bibliophile #bookstagram #dailyinspo #igreads #instapic #inspiration #writersofinstagram #literature #booklover #books #bookstagram #booknerdigans #fridayreads


#fashionista #fashionaddict #fashionblogger #beautyblogger #dreamsoffashion #effortless #urbaninspiration #outfitoftheweek  #styleblogger #OOTD #fblogger #whatiwore #currentlywearing #personalstyle #realoutfitgram #fashiondiaries #outfitgoals #fashiondaily #OTB  #wiw #wiwt #stylediaries #aboutalook #ontheblog


#petsofinstagram #petlovers #petsofig #animallover #instadog   #animalkingdom #cuteanimals #animal_captures #adorable_animals  #doglover #ilovemydog #cutecats #catlover #doglife #fluffycat #cuteanimal #dogs_of_instagram #animalsofig #animallover #animallove

We hope that you’re more excited to use hashtag lists for Instagram! Let us know which hashtag list works the best for your Instagram posts.

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How to Create and Use Hashtag Lists for Instagram

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How to Create and Use Hashtag Lists for Instagram

How to Use Hashtag Lists in Tailwind for Instagram

How much time do you spend searching for the right hashtags for your Instagram posts and tapping them, one-by-one, into your phone screen?

Smart Instagram marketers already save time by copying and pasting lists of their most used hashtags from notes on their phone.

With Tailwind for Instagram you can now save as many hashtag lists as you’d like right in our app and add them to your Instagram posts with one quick click, either from desktop or your phone. What a time saver!

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How to Use Hashtag Lists in Tailwind for Instagram

No more looking through phone notes or going into a different app to find your hashtags. Tailwind for Instagram is built to work the way you do for Instagram posting right on your phone.

How to create a hashtag list on your desktop with Tailwind

Adding hashtags to Instagram posts has proven to be effective for growing your Instagram account and gaining more followers.

If you’re not sure how to use hashtags, please check out this resource.

In time trials, Tailwind for Instagram was 60% faster than the scheduling process that many marketers use today, involving emailing images to themselves and downloading them on their phone. For the average Instagram marketer, this will result in 12 hours of time saved each year. Streamlining your hashtag process will shave off more time. And who doesn’t need more time?

After you tag your post with a hashtag, you’ll be able to tap the hashtag to see a page that shows all photos and videos people have uploaded with that hashtag. Is this the right fit for your hashtag strategy? Check in from time to time to make sure you’re targeting the right people with your hashtags.

Tips on hashtags from Instagram:

  • 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 tag your own posts. You can’t tag other people’s photos/videos.
  • You can use up to 30 tags on a post. If you include more than 30 tags on a single photo/video, your comment won’t post.

How to Find the Best Hashtags Fast

If you’ve ever wondered how people find a whole bunch of awesome hashtags for their posts, here’s the best shortcut I know. Type a few hashtags into your caption on Tailwind and Hashtag Finder suggests the best hashtags for your post. There’s nothing else like it. You can find spot-on hashtags and add them in moments, plus it color codes the recommendations so you can see at a glance which ones are more likely to get you engagement.

The Tailwind App features Hashtag Finder and a shuffle button to access all the hashtags

The Tailwind App features Hashtag Finder which recommends the best hashtags to use with your post

Here’s an example of the kind of hashtag list you can generate with Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder.  A hashtag list for social media or blog posts:

#bloggingtips #businesstips #creativeliving #creativepreneur #communityovercompetition #girlboss #growyourbusiness #instapreneur #InstagramTips #risingtidesociety #SavvyBusinessOwner #SocialEntrepreneur #SocialMediaMarketingTips #VisualMarketing #SocialMediaTips #artofsocial #socialmedia #tailwindtribe

You can use this hashtag list to test adding hashtags to your Tailwind app.

Step one: add hashtag lists to your Tailwind account

Once you’re logged in, create a draft of a post and tap the # button.

Hashtags Lists in Tailwind

Step two: add your hashtag list

Once you’ve created your draft, click the # and then the + to add a new hashtag list. You can add up to thirty hashtags per list which is the limit of hashtags per posts on Instagram.

Add hashtag list to Tailwind for Instagram

Make sure to hit the “save” button on your Hashtag list when you’re happy with it.

Save your hashtag list to Tailwind for Instagram

Step three: Add your post on your schedule

Step four: Get a notification from Tailwind to post

Step five: Post to Instagram adding your hashtag list

How to add hashtag lists to Instagram from Tailwind

Here’s what it looks like from your phone:

This is a view of a scheduled Instagram post on the calendar in your Tailwind for iOS app. I added the image and text for the caption on desktop and now I want to add hashtags in the app.

Hit the green # button to access your hashtag lists.

Hashtag List in Tailwind for Instagram

You’ll see all the hashtag lists that you’ve created populate below your caption. We show your most recent hashtag lists or you can select “all” to see your complete catalog of hashtag lists.

Hashtag List in Tailwind for Instagram

Select your hashtag list and it populates in your caption. Once you’re happy with your caption, hit the “done” button to publish to Instagram.

If you want to put your hashtags in the first comment, cut them from the caption, hit the “done” button, and then paste them into the first comment.

Hashtag List in Tailwind for Instagram

Voila! That’s all it takes to use your hashtag lists in Tailwind. Once you set them up, you’ll be able to use them for all your Instagram posts.

The quickest way to research hashtags

We have heard from a lot of marketers that hashtag research was taking up too much of their time and they weren’t necessarily finding the best tags for their posts. We solved this problem with Tailwind’s Instagram Hashtag Finder tool which suggests the best hashtags for your post based on the hashtags you’re already using. The intuitive color-coding makes choosing between different hashtags easier than ever before. It’s simple from there to save great hashtags into powerful Instagram hashtag lists.

If you’re already a Tailwind for Instagram member (and we hope you are!), you can access your saved hashtag lists on any draft Instagram post in Tailwind – just find the “#” button. From there, click on the “+” button to create a new saved hashtag list, or click on any existing saved hashtag list to append it right to your post’s caption! Try it here!

Give it a try and let us know if you have any questions.

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How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags on Instagram? Use them or bag it? That’s the question that Instagrammers face each time they post a photo on Instagram. Maybe you want to use hashtags on Instagram but you’re not sure why or how to use them? This article will help with those questions and give you a solid plan to move forward using hashtags on Instagram.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

What’s the deal with hashtags on Instagram?

Hashtags are simple and complicated at the same time. In their simplest expression, a hashtag is a word preceded by the # sign with no spaces like this #hashtag. Using a hashtags ties your Instagram post with hundreds, thousands, or millions of other Instagram posts in the same hashtag group.

When you click on a hashtag on Instagram, it takes you to all the results for that hashtag sometimes called a hashtag page or hub. Instagram also calls them simply tags in the app.

There’s a lot of rich information on the Instagram hashtag results. This example is for #instastat.

Instagram Hashtag hub - How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

In this example two Tailwind Instagram posts with Instagram stats are in the results. One in the Top Posts and one in the recent posts. There are 7,235 posts total in this hashtag at the time of this article which shows that it’s used but not overly popular so it’s perfect for a post that you want to stand out and maybe get some new attention.

Instagram Hashtags Need to Know

Thirty is the maximum amount of hashtags you can use per post. Instagram counts all the hashtags in your caption and your comments from you and allows thirty.

  1. Related hashtags – provides you with closely related hashtags that you can click on to see what’s posted and find new people to follow. This related hashtag information disappears if you click on anything else.
  2. Top Posts – Check out how these posts are created and see how they’re using hashtags since they’ve made it to this Top Posts or Top Nine for the feed. They’re doing something right!
  3. Most recent – Is this a currently used hashtag and how often people are posting.
  4. Number of times the hashtag has been used – This lets you know how big the pool of competition is for your posts.

In this post from #instagramdog, you can see that Instagram is suggesting some related tags to use or find new posts. This lists scrolls to the right in the app.

Tag recommendations - How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram says, “At the top of some hashtag pages you may see a section called Top Posts. Top posts appear on trending hashtags to show you some of the popular posts tagged with that hashtag.

In the Most Recent section, photos and videos appear in the order that they were posted. 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.”

Very popular Instagram hashtag pages have millions of results and your posts can become buried quickly. A good Instagram hashtag strategy is to use a variety of hashtags: one or two very popular (with millions of results), a group of targeted hashtags that are popular with 100,000 or more search results, and some that aren’t as popular. You’ll want to stay on brand for your content with all your hashtags and don’t use unrelated hashtags as this is spammy and won’t help your growth.

We condensed 12 months of research into an Instagram Marketing 101 Webinar. If you’re enjoying this article, you’ll love it. 

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How to Find Instagram Hashtags

So you know you need to do some hashtag research, what’s the most effective way? As we’ve already demonstrated, Instagram itself suggests related hashtags as you type hashtags into the search bar. That’s how most marketers go about finding hashtags.

Another option is Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder which suggests the best hashtags for your post as you type your caption. Start with one hashtag and Tailwind will recommend more. With one click you can add the suggested hashtags to your post and more recommendations will appear! Recommendations are even color-coded to help guide you towards using a balance of “Competitive”, “Niche”, “Good” and “Best” hashtags.

Tailwind Hashtag Finder

Tailwind Hashtag Finder suggests the best hashtags for your posts


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Where should you add hashtags

There’s some debate on whether adding hashtags in the description of the post or in the first comment are best. There’s no definitive answer from Instagram but I did ask my contact at Instagram if it mattered whether you posted in the first comment or the description and I was told that it didn’t matter which you did.

If you want to add a hashtag to a post you’ve already uploaded, edit the caption or include your hashtag in a comment on your photo. You can only add hashtags to your own posts, not to other people’s posts in the comments.

Here’s the logic behind the two choices:

#1 It’s better to add comments in the description of the post so they’re added to the recent posts and could be included in the Top posts.

#2 It’s better to put hashtags in the comments right after you post. This way the hashtags don’t clutter up the caption or look spammy.

Some people add hashtags with a dots before them so that they are hidden in the comments or not shown in the Instagram feed. You can do this in the captions or in the first comment. Instagram is very much about the aesthetic but it’s a personal choice for you to make.

I recommend testing to see which works best for you on your posts and see what you like best. There’s many ways to add hashtags and no wrong or right way. I like to add one or two in the caption and a larger group in the first comment. In this example, I added five hashtags in the caption and then a group with dots to space the hashtags down with a large group below. You can’t see this hashtag comment when you look at the post on the left.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram

Use Hashtags to search

Hashtags on Instagram can be your equivalent of a Google search. As of December 2016, Instagram has over a 600 million users. With an average of 55 million images a day, you can be sure to find a any subject matter on Instagram.

As a business, you can also use this option to scope out your competitors or research new ideas in your area of expertise. To build a community, you can follow people in the hashtags that relate to your topic.

Read more on This One Instagram Hashtag Strategy Works for Anyone

Do you have any questions about hashtags on Instagram that you’d like answered? We want this blog to be an amazing resource for you full of answers, technics, tips, and how-to’s. Let us know how we can help you be better on Instagram!

Look for upcoming articles on using Instagram hashtags from our blog.

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3 Easy Ways to Use Instagram’s Post Notification Feature for Your Brand

Instagram has released a new Post Notification feature that could be a vital tool for your brand to increase its engagement with followers on Instagram. This feature sends a push notification to users when posts go live. This increases the chances of your followers actually engaging with the photo rather than scrolling past it in their feed like they normally would. Here are ways your brand can successfully use this feature:

3 Easy Ways to Use Instagram’s Post Notification Feature for Your Brand

1. Introduce the feature on other social media networks

If people connect with your brand on Facebook and Twitter, they are more likely to follow and subscribe to your posts on Instagram. Some people are unaware of Instagram’s new feature, so promoting it across other social media platforms will help increase your brand’s chances of your followers turning on notifications for your brand’s Instagram account.

2. Come up with contest ideas

People love to win things and by creating a contest that has your followers be the first or the top 10 to comment or like a post, they will more than likely participate. For this new feature specifically, you can push your followers to subscribe to post notifications if you announce the contest in advance. People will want to know exactly when you post so they can increase their odds of winning the contest. It would also be beneficial to offer discounts that expire or promoting new products that users will want to have a first look at.

3. Keep up with competitors

Don’t forget to use this new feature for yourself too! Keep a close watch on what your competitors are up to so you’re not caught off guard. If you subscribe to their posts you’ll know exactly what they’re promoting as soon as they post it on Instagram. It’s a great strategy to consistently be in the loop with what the competition is doing.

How exactly do I turn on post notifications?

twwww 1 (1)To get push notifications for someone you follow on Instagram, open their profile page and then click on the triple-dot button in the upper-right corner. Then from the menu, click on Turn on Post Notifications.” You will know it worked when you see “Post notifications on” at the top of your screen. Now, when that account posts a photo, you’ll be one of the first to know.

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 How do you plan on using Instagram’s post notification’s feature?

Unleash the power of Tailwind for Instagram!

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Easily Regram with our browser extension
Save hours with our intuitive desktop & mobile apps
– Post smarter with profile and post analytics

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