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Instagram Tags: Ultimate Guide + 50 Most Popular Hashtags

By Kristina
28 May, 2021
11 min read

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Instagram hashtags are so 2010’s. Or so you might think.

But the truth is they never went out of fashion. Why? Because their simple and effective function within the platform has stayed relevant despite plenty of new tools popping up over the years. 

Bottom line - hashtags on Instagram work:

One thing is clear - with more likes and comments, comes higher visibility on Instagram. And that means more sales. Carefully chosen Instagram tags can be exceptionally powerful for marketing your e-commerce business in 2021.

So we’ve gathered together all the latest information that you need to know about Instagram tags. Read on to find out how to boost your engagement, likes, and follows with the best Instagram tags and sell like a pro.

 Let’s start with the basics.

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What is an Instagram hashtag?

From the first glance, a hashtag just appears to be a familiar symbol (‘#’) that comes before a trendy phrase or word. 

But there’s a lot more to a hashtag than that. At its core, they’re a very useful mechanism for sorting and categorizing information on social media platforms like Instagram. They match people’s interests with content and make their scrolling more enjoyable. 

Hashtags can serve your e-commerce businesses by making your posts and content more discoverable and visible, which is especially important in terms of attracting new clients. 

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How do hashtags work?

Users can click on tags posted by others or use the search function to find out what’s trending within a certain theme. 

As they are guided to a separate page with filtered content, it makes it easier for them to discover the types of images or videos they’re looking for. From there, visitors can press the follow button on that hashtag thread, which makes Top related posts appear on their home feed as well.

organicsnacks hashtag
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Here’s how an Instagram hashtag page looks (this is for #organicsnacks) If your post’s engagement is high, it can reach the Top section. Regular posts are seen in the constant stream of images and videos in the Recent section - these are sorted by the exact time they were posted. 

Essentially, hashtags help you shorten the time users take to find your product on Instagram, as they narrow down their search. Visitors will be more likely to engage with your content since the hashtagged Instagram posts match their search preferences and interests accurately. 

But before you start chucking all the most popular hashtags into your Instagram posts, make sure you get your strategy right - the following tips are here to help you do just that.

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Where are Instagram hashtags used?

The classic way to use hashtags is in the regular timeline post’s description. This practice is common to this day and yields great results if kept tidy and relevant.

sipsapsucker instagram
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Sapsucker is an organic, sparkling tree sap company from Canada. It uses Instagram hashtags regularly in its post descriptions to market products. An absolute classic hashtag example! 

Still, with the introduction of Instagram Stories and Reels, the scope of hashtags’ capabilities has increased greatly.  The principle is the same in all of Instagram’s features, but the method of using them is not. 

Hashtags on Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are different because they have an expiration date of 24 hours. Followers can only see that video or photo for a day and then it disappears forever, unless you decide to add it to your feed permanently. The Instagram app itself offers tons of design editing options, including filters, background music and, of course, hashtags.

Adding them is quite simple:

  • You can write it the same way you would write regular text in a Story, or you can use a dedicated hashtag sticker,
  • Press Share and the app will do the rest,
  • It will put your story in the series of that tag’s stories,
  • It can be found by pressing the Story bubble at the top of the sorted hashtag page.

TIP: If the hashtags kill your aesthetic, you can easily pinch and scale them down and hide them behind a big sticker.

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Using Instagram Stories’ built-in hashtag feature is so simple! Just swipe up and press on the button.

Hashtags on Instagram Reels

Reels are Instagram’s version of Vine or Tik Tok - short 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and new creative tools. Hashtags on Instagram Reels are added in the same way as in timeline posts - straight in the description.

Make sure you use hashtags that are already being used widely within the platform, as they will generate the most views and leads for you. 

As Instagram Reels is still comparatively new, it’s important to follow trending, sponsored hashtags instead of unusual or niche hashtags. The great thing is that if a Reel is popular enough, it can show up right on users’ feeds next to regular posts, increasing your chances of going viral!

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This short video of a cute alpaca demonstrates where the hashtags are usually found in Instagram Reels.

That multiple alpaca emojis are definitely not necessary, but it sure is adorable!

When should I use Instagram hashtags?

The simple rule is you should use relevant, related hashtags every time you post, or at least as often as you can. Hashtags increase your chances of being discovered, so why pass up this opportunity? 

Just make sure common sense should always come first, especially when posting sensitive or controversial topics. A hashtag in these contexts might be seen as insensitive or offensive. But, as long as you’re keeping it respectful, hashtags will be of great help in building your account. So use them as often as you can.

How many Instagram hashtags should I use?

The more isn’t the merrier when it comes to Instagram tags. Even if you decide to go big, there is a strict hashtag limit, which currently stands at 30 per post or Reel. For Instagram Stories, this goes even lower, at just 10 hashtags per Story, plus just one Instagram hashtag sticker.

So, what is the Instagram hashtag sweet spot? There isn’t one clear answer, as it differs depending on the product and account. Some recommend using as many hashtags as possible. Others suggest staying between 5-10. Experimenting is key in this case, but it should always be focused on quality, not quantity. This means that irrelevant hashtags will not do your business any good. 

How to pick the best Instagram hashtags?

To put it simply, the right hashtags for your business are those that have the strongest associations to the product that you’re selling. The first step is simply identifying popular themes that your target audiences search for. Then look for related hashtags.

For example, if your business sells handmade jewelry, your hashtags could include not only #rings and #bracelets, but also broader related hashtags like #accessories and #fashion. Because your jewelry is hand-made, you could try #exclusive or #smallbusiness. Your jewelry pieces can even appeal to the #sustainability community as they are #handmade.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

naked gems on instagram
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Naked gems, a handmade jewelry maker based in Toronto, uses different types of Instagram hashtags in this post. As you can see, it features related hashtags that are not only about the jewelry piece itself, but also to the location and type of business.

What are good tags for Instagram?

Even if you are drawn towards the most popular hashtags, don’t get greedy. It’s recommended to use hashtags that have no more than 100,000 posts circulating. This gives you a higher chance of being noticed. If you are still keen on trying the top hashtags, mixing it up is a good practice as well, as you’ll get the best of both worlds.

It definitely is harder to find more niche hashtags, but the engagement payoff is usually greater. Here are some tips to help you find the Instagram tags that are best for your particular community.

1. Check your competitors and learn from industry leaders

Spying on your competitor’s posts can help you find the right hashtags for your business (and here’s a guide on how to do it for Facebook and Instagram). Make sure you assess their strategy and content well. And don’t forget to write down the hashtags that they tend to use! This way you’ll have the potential to outperform your competition.

Keep an eye on industry leaders’ or influencers’ hashtags too, especially if they tend to advertise products similar to the ones you sell.

2. Look into your existing audience

Sometimes, the answers you need are right in front of your nose. 

Look into the topics your audience is interested in. Identifying the accounts and hashtags that they follow can help you get a better understanding of which hashtags drew them to your product, and what will continue to catch the attention of similar customers.

3. Use Instagram’s suggestions

Instagram itself has a great built-in functionality with its hashtag suggestion list. Based on your initial search, it helps you identify related hashtags. Just start typing a general hashtag in the search and then related hashtags will appear below. Scroll down and find the ones that fit best and aren’t being overused - it’s that easy!

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Common hashtag mistakes and how to avoid them

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There are a few hashtag mistakes that can sabotage all the hard work you put into crafting an effective Instagram tags strategy.

Overall, remember that catching the eye of the user is just as important as pleasing Instagram’s algorithm

Although Instagram is constantly evolving, here are some hashtag-related mistakes that you want to make sure you avoid. Doing so will save you time and trouble.

Instagram hashtag mistake 1: clutter in the description

A messy post or Reel description is considered tacky by most people, so make sure to list hashtags in a minimalistic way. If you have crafted an eye-catching caption, don’t drown it in a sea of hashtags. 

There are two ways to avoid this:

The dots method

Type your caption in the description as you would regularly. Then, place the cursor at the end of the sentence and press enter to add three to five line breaks with punctuation marks. When you have plenty of space in-between, copy and paste in your hashtags. 

Voila, your hashtags now are pretty much invisible to mobile app users, unless they want to do the extra work of expanding the caption box.

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Writer Robyn Donaldson is having fun wearing her vintage pajamas in this light-hearted Instagram post! Notice the dots in the description box? All the hashtags are hidden underneath them.

The comment section

This is probably the most common method used in the platform, as it is an easy and effective way to hide your hashtags on Instagram. Just put your hashtags in the first comment under your own post.

nyx cosmetics instgram
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Here’s a hashtag hiding technique in action! NYX cosmetics put their hashtags as a first comment instead of in the caption.

If you use this technique, just make sure you add the hashtags as quickly as possible - if you wait more than a couple of seconds, your content will not make it to the top of the hashtag’s page, negatively affecting your reach. That’s because the algorithm picks up posts based on the original time they were shared.

Instagram hashtag mistake 2: using blocked hashtags

Hashtags on Instagram can get blocked from time to time. Which ones? Well, it would be great to have a list of all the blocked Instagram hashtags. But unfortunately, it changes constantly depending on the reports of inappropriate content or fake accounts under specific tags. 

Some bans are obvious. But others like #elevator or #besties are less expected. So be sure to check them once in a while so your Instagram marketing performance isn’t damaged. If there’s no disclaimer on the hashtag page, you’re safe to go.

Instagram hashtag mistake 3: using repetitive hashtags

The work doesn’t stop once you’ve collected the ultimate list of hashtags that work for you. 

Posting the same copy with the same hashtags over and over again may get you penalized by the algorithm. That’s because Instagram’s community guidelines state that “posting repetitive comments or content is not allowed.”

What you should do instead is match specific hashtags to the picture and the message you’re trying to get across. A couple of constant hashtags are completely okay, but make your content authentic by varying the others - your users will prefer this approach too.

Instagram hashtag mistake 4: using spammy hashtags

Don’t follow the crowd by using shameless like-seeking hashtags such as #like4like, #followme, #picoftheday and similar. 

Not only will they make you look desperate in the eyes of customers, they will also attract bots and scammers.  Spammy hashtags are a big no-no if you’re trying to build a trustworthy online business.

Instagram hashtag mistake 5: having your account set to private mode

Another important thing to remember is that your account should not be set to private.

If it is, your posts, Stories and Reels won’t appear publicly anywhere - only your followers will be able to see them. Switch your setting to public in Instagram’s privacy settings.

How do you get more likes on Instagram hashtags?

If there ever was one magic hashtag combination that generated endless likes, by now it has definitely been overused and become generic. In the end, there is no silver bullet.

Engagement, whether it’s likes, comments or shares comes from your users’ interest. And this is mainly the result of high quality content. If you believe your social media feed needs improvement, make sure that you have these foundational points figured out:

#1. Having a clear goal

If you haven’t already, crystallize what it is that you want to achieve with your posts. Perhaps your main goal is building brand awareness? Or fostering the relationship with your existing followers? What about presenting new products? 

It will be much easier to craft great posts and pick the right hashtags once you have a definite goal.

#2. Preparing visual content in advance

Have plenty of ready-to-go photos, so you don’t need to spend any additional time hunting for a good shot. Having well-prepared material that is high quality is always better. You can save the quick turnarounds for when you need to catch an Instagram trend quickly.

#3. Maintaining a coherent visual style and tone of voice

While using repetitive hashtags will do you no good, consistency in your feed creates trust and shows professionalism. One way to create consistency is by having a clear visual style, color palette, and editing style for your pictures and videos. 

And make sure your copy is written with your brand’s tone of voice. Users should be able to recognize that it’s you talking.

In terms of hashtags, you can even consider adding a branded hashtag for your business to build meaningful connections with your fans. A branded Instagram hashtag is a tag with a usually catchy phrase that is unique to your business. These are most often used in social media campaigns or when launching new products. It is especially useful in collecting user-generated content (UGC) for reposting, which also has the potential to increase your likes organically. 

pandora instagram
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Pandora, the globally renowned jewelry brand, uses the #MomentWithPandora branded hashtag. It’s used to show how the most special moments in life can be celebrated with a gifted accessory.

If you need more examples and ideas on what to post on Instagram, check out this guide to 20 creative things to post on Instagram. Take a look if you’re after new ways to make your posts more diverse and likeable!

If you’ve read our previous advice, it should be pretty evident that the most popular hashtags are not necessarily the best option when it comes to improving engagement and building a dedicated client community. 

However, if you can pick out a few relevant tags and use them sensibly, they may give you broader exposure. So, here are the top 50 Instagram hashtags in 2021, as listed by the marketing platform Later:

  1. #beach
  2. #l4l
  3. #blogger
  4. #instadaily
  5. #lol
  6. #blue
  7. #instagram
  8. #model
  9. #nature
  10. #hot
  11. #followme
  12. #pink
  13. #bestoftheday
  14. #night
  15. #blackandwhite
  16. #nofilter
  17. #food
  18. #f4f
  19. #family
  20. #foodporn
  21. #fashionblogger
  22. #black
  23. #me
  24. #gym
  25. #home
  26. #makeup
  27. #photography
  28. #girl
  29. #pretty
  30. #fitfam
  31. #lifestyle
  32. #work
  33. #sky
  34. #love
  35. #amazing
  36. #beautiful
  37. #sun
  38. #luxury
  39. #vsco
  40. #landscape
  41. #cute
  42. #llike4like
  43. #hair
  44. #girls
  45. #london
  46. #tbt
  47. #life
  48. #picoftheday
  49. #beauty
  50. #smile

Instagram hashtags: key takeaways

As you can see, optimizing your Instagram hashtag strategy is not that difficult once you get the hang of the basics. Even though a lot depends on your individual business and goals, the tips and strategies we’ve shared here can give a good head-start when it comes to growing your engagement on Instagram.

Just remember these points: 

  • Contrary to popular belief, the most popular hashtags are not always the most effective ones when it comes to e-commerce. 
  • There isn’t one secret formula, but proven tips can help you understand which hashtags can actually bring value to your business. 
  • Practice makes perfect, so experiment with different techniques and tag sets to get the best results!

Although the Instagram algorithm is unpredictable at times, learning from common hashtag mistakes can help you avoid its penalties. If you’re curious as to how it works on a deeper level, take a look at this article on How To Outsmart the Instagram Algorithm in 2021.

Kristina

I'm a content manager at sixads. I'm fiery about marketing, writing and traveling, so you can often find me scribbling away in some unknown corner of the world. If you want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store get in touch with sixads on one of the channels bellow.

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