Video Marketing

How to Use Instagram Hashtags: A Beginner's Guide

Megan O'Neill

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If you’re creating videos for Instagram, you want people to see them! And one of the best ways to get your Instagram content in front of more people is by using hashtags.

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In this guide, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know to get started with Instagram hashtags. Read straight through, or click on the links below to hop to a specific section of the guide.

What are Instagram hashtags?

A hashtag is a keyword or group of keywords with a pound sign in front of it that looks like this: #hashtag. When used on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other hashtag-friendly places around the web it turns into a link. The link features all content tagged with the same hashtag.

On Instagram, you can not only add hashtags to your posts, but you can also follow hashtags in order to discover content related to your interests. They serve as a wonderful tool for finding new content you’ll like, as well as getting your content in front of people that’ll like it.

Hashtags can also be used to group together your own content. If you’re embarking on a special campaign or project, you can use a unique hashtag to tie all your related posts together.

To add a hashtag to a post, simply type a pound sign followed by your keyword or keywords, with no spaces. You’ll notice that popular hashtags will pop up as you type, including the number of posts that use the hashtag. If you see one you’d like to use, simply tap to add it to your post.

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Instagram hashtag FAQs

How many hashtags can you use on Instagram

You can include up to 30 hashtags in a single post. But although you can include 30 hashtags, there is some debate about whether you should. Some people say it looks spammy. However, studies have shown that posts using 11 or more hashtags get the best engagement. Experiment to determine what works best for you.

Where should you put hashtags?

You can use hashtags in all sorts of places on Instagram. Add them to your profile bio to hyperlink to specific projects or collections of posts. Or, use them on posts in your feed or Instagram Stories to reach a wider audience.

When posting to your feed, you can either include hashtags in the description or in the comments. We’ll dive into the details of this in the next question.

Does putting hashtags in comments work?

Some people put hashtags in their post descriptions, while others prefer to add them to the comments. Both are effective methods of adding hashtags to your post, and there’s no real consensus on whether one is better than the other. Like many hashtag-related things, you’ll need to experiment to understand what works best for you.

If you are using hashtags in your description, one of the perks is that you can go back and edit later to remove hashtags or add new ones.

Some Instagrammers choose to include one strong hashtag in the description and add additional hashtags in a comment.

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How do you hide Instagram hashtags?

Want to hide the hashtags on your Instagram posts? Many Instagrammers choose to bury the hashtags by typing a few periods and returns underneath their initial description. When people scroll past your post in the feed, the hashtags will be hidden under a "more" link.

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What are banned hashtags?

Banned hashtags are hashtags that have been blocked by Instagram due to reports of spam or violation of Instagram’s community guidelines. Posts tagged with banned hashtags will be hidden from the community.

Using banned hashtags can result in a decline in reach and engagement on your posts. There’s also a possibility of having your account shadowbanned, meaning that new posts would only show up for your followers. So it’s important to avoid using banned hashtags when you can.

How do you know if a hashtag is banned? Head over to Instagram and search for the hashtag. If the hashtag is banned, it’ll have a note at the top of the search result that indicates that recent posts from that hashtag are banned.

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You’d be surprised at some of the hashtags that are banned! #desk, #happythanksgiving, #snowstorm, and #dogsofinstagram are just a few. So definitely double-check to ensure you’re using safe hashtags.

Tips for getting the most out of Instagram hashtags

To help you get the most out of using Instagram hashtags, we’ve put together a few tips.

Keep your audience in mind

When using hashtags, remember what audience you’re trying to reach. Simply using hashtags to reach lots of people is fine, if you’re just trying to get likes. But if you’re trying to build an audience you’ll want to be consistent.

If you share content with the hashtag #pizza one day and #dogs the next, followed by #interiordesign, you’re not going to attract a consistent following. People will follow you because the majority of what you’re posting is related to their interests, so try to focus your hashtag strategy around what your target audience is into.

Do hashtag research

In addition to doing a bit of research to avoid using banned hashtags, you can and should also research to find new hashtags to use. Here are a few things to try:

  • Seek out influencers in your industry and see what hashtags they’re using. Check out what hashtags your competitors are using.
  • Follow hashtags related to your industry or area of expertise and start interacting with other people that are posting on them. See which hashtags result in the best engagement.
  • Explore other posts being shared with the hashtags you are using. See what other hashtags are being included on these posts.
  • Use an Instagram hashtag tool to discover new hashtags to try. We’ll dive into that more in our section on Instagram hashtag tools.

Use a mix of popular and longtail hashtags

Using popular hashtags can help you get a small burst of likes right after posting. However, your posts will quickly get lost in a sea of other content posted with the same hashtag.

That’s why it’s a good idea to use a mix of both popular and niche or longtail hashtags. The longtail or niche hashtags may have less people following, but they often have the most dedicated audiences, and with less content being posted, you’ll be visible longer.

Curious about how popular a hashtag is? As you start typing a hashtag, autofill results will appear. Beneath each potential hashtag you’ll see a number and that number indicates the number of people that have posted with that hashtag. The bigger the number, the more popular the hashtag.

Keep a pulse on trending hashtags

Last but not least, take advantage of trending hashtags to reach more people. Holidays that are related to your industry or area of expertise, social trends, and happenings in the news can provide opportunities for reaching new people.

Hashtag tools can help you with this. As we mentioned, we’ll share more about that later on in this guide.

Using hashtags in Instagram Stories

You can also add hashtags to your Instagram Stories. When you use a hashtag in a Story, you might get in front of a wider audience if your Story gets added to the hashtag Story.

How do you get added to a hashtag Story? That’s up to Instagram’s algorithm and based on engagement and the quality of the media. But it doesn’t hurt to try!

To add a hashtag to your Instagram Story, simply tap to add a sticker and select the hashtag sticker. You’ll notice that as you start typing Instagram will suggest hashtags towards the bottom of the screen.

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Using hashtags in your Instagram bio

You can also use hashtags in your Instagram bio. While this won’t push your content out to people who are following the hashtag, it is a nice way to indicate your interests for new visitors to your profile.

Another perk of including hashtags in your Instagram bio is that it allows you to link out to curated collections of content. Simply use the hashtag or description of the posts you’d like to share. Use a hashtag that isn’t already taken, so you can be sure all the content is yours.

Note: Your Instagram bio is restricted to 150 characters, so keep this in mind when deciding which (and how many) hashtags to include.

Free Instagram hashtag tools

We've mentioned hashtag tools a few times in this guide. But what are they? Hashtag tools are designed to help you find relevant hashtags to use.

Here's a list of free hashtag tools that you can try:

  • All Hashtag generates hashtags for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Quickly generate 30 hashtags for one post using All Hashtag's hashtag generator. Sort by top hashtags or randomize.
  • Seekmetrics will generate a list of hashtags based on an inputted keyword. It'll also provide an "insta_count" of how many times this hashtag has been used.
  • Instagram Tags generates hashtag suggestions based on categories. Choose a category from a dropdown menu for a list of related hashtags to try.
  • Sistrix lets you do up to 25 queries a day for free. It'll give you a list of the best 30 hashtags based on a single hashtag search.

Like a tool we missed? Share it with us in the comments below. And let us know what hashtags have worked the best for you!