Instagram Hashtag Guide – How To Find & Use Instagram Hashtags In 2024

From keeping your content organized to helping your account grow, Instagram hashtags benefit your social media visibility. The right hashtags can:

  • Act as fuel to Instagram’s tricky algorithm and improve visibility
  • Enhance your content’s discoverability for a larger audience
  • Make trendjacking more impactful
  • Categorize your content
  • Foster a sense of belonging and encourage UGC

All the above reasons are exactly why every social media marketer strives to up their hashtag game on Instagram. 

But is running behind any and every popular hashtag the right way to go? No. 

You need thorough audience insights, the right tools, and data-driven strategies. 

Today, we’re sharing the ultimate Instagram hashtags guide so you can strengthen your presence on the platform.

Instagram Hashtags Guide: The Basics

Before we dive deep into hashtag research and usage, let’s get the basics out of the way. 

What are Instagram hashtags?

Instagram hashtags are words and phrases with the hashtag symbol in front of them and are used in Instagram captions and stories. 

Social media marketers use Instagram hashtags to: 

  • Increase visibility and discoverability
  • Organize and categorize content on Instagram
  • Improve engagement
  • Optimize brand campaigns and create a sense of community 
  • Use trend jacking and sustain relevance

Furthermore, you can even go a step beyond and add such a curation as an Instagram feed on the website for more social proof.

Different types of hashtags on Instagram

Since Instagram hashtags guide your social media discovery, make them dynamic. Here’s how:

1. Branded hashtags

A branded hashtag is a hashtagged phrase a brand creates and uses on social media. It is exclusively associated with the brand and aims to encourage conversations around their product, services, and campaigns.

Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke is a notable example of a branded hashtag. 

2. Community hashtags

A community hashtag identifies and connects with a specific group or community of social media users over a shared common interest, cause, or experience. They help create a sense of belonging and categorize content about a particular topic or niche. 

For example, #nintendolife brings the game’s enthusiasts together on Instagram. 

3. Trending hashtags

Trending hashtags use current trends and are mentioned frequently. These let brands create a relatable image on social media, join the trending conversation, and reach a bigger audience base.

For example, #Barbenheimer represents a cultural phenomenon related to the two massive hits of 2023 — Barbie and Oppenheimer. The hashtag got extensive traction on social media, prompting multiple brands to hop on the trend.

The anatomy of a successful hashtag

Hashtags are essential to build a thriving Instagram presence. But what makes a hashtag tick? 

1. Relevance

The most influential factor for a successful hashtag is its relevance to your target audience and the content or topic you are posting about. 

It has to resonate with your audience’s interests and preferences and be relevant to the post’s messaging. Only then the right people will discover your content and engage with it. 

2. Popularity

Your chosen Instagram hashtags should be popular enough to bring your content the desired traction. If a hashtag is already a favorite among your audience and aligns with your content, using it can increase your visibility. 

However, it’s best to avoid hopping on trending hashtags if it isn’t related to your brand message.

3. Uniqueness

Overused or generic hashtags make your posts invisible in the sea of similar content. Your Instagram hashtags have to be unique and memorable to stand out. 

How to find the right hashtags for Instagram

Every successful or trending hashtag won’t work for you. You must understand how to find Instagram hashtags that represent your content messaging and resonate with your audience. Let’s see how:

Research your audience

While researching hashtags for Instagram, the primary focus should be your audience. Who are they? What are their interests? What type of content and hashtags do they engage with? Knowing these details lets you tailor your hashtag strategy to reach the right people.

Collect and analyze first-party and third-party data to determine your ideal audience. Consider demographics like: 

  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Shopping patterns

Analyze your competitors and influencers to see what types of Instagram hashtags they use. Since you have the same or similar target, it gives you a fair idea about your audience. You should also assess your existing posts and see which hashtags have generated the most engagement. 

3 Tools for hashtag research

Manually finding Instagram hashtags can be tedious and error-prone. Consider using Hashtag research tools to make the process more accurate. 

Here are some social media solutions you can consider: 

1. Keyhole

When it comes to upping your Instagram game, very few come close to Keyhole’s hashtag research capabilities. Besides content scheduling and social media analytics, you get hashtag suggestions, monitoring, and data-driven reporting features. With its real-time social media listening, you can find the most popular and relevant hashtags within seconds. 

Keyhole also offers a clean dashboard where you can track your existing hashtag’s performance, identify areas of improvement, and optimize your strategy accordingly. 

With Keyhole’s AI-powered competitive analysis, you can avoid the common mistakes of hashtag usage and understand which ones work the best in your niche. Moreover, you can share the generated reports with your team and stakeholders and keep everyone on the same page. 

2. Sprout Social 

Sprout Social is one of the most popular social media marketing solutions with hashtag tracking features. The tool crawls online conversations, forums, and groups and finds the best hashtags for Instagram campaigns. 

Here, you can easily track the most frequently used hashtags that get the most engagement. Sprout Social also lets you add hashtags to monitor within social media feeds to assess their usage. It also ensures you engage in significant conversations by suggesting popular hashtags in your niche.

3. Brandwatch

With accurate customer intelligence, historical customer data, and competitive channel analytics, Brandwatch can help you find impactful hashtags. Moreover, the customizable dashboard tracks performance and ensures your hashtag usage remains on the right track.

How to create a custom Instagram hashtag strategy

Aimlessly adding a handful of hashtags won’t help your Instagram presence. You need a well-mapped-out approach to get the desired traction.

Here’s how you can customize your hashtag strategy for Instagram: 

Combining different types of hashtags

To get the most out of your strategy, you should plan out a mix of general and specific hashtags. General ones increase your content’s reach, while specific ones target a niche audience. By mapping them in your strategy, you get dynamic hashtags ready to be used according to your content. 

Branded hashtags for Instagram campaigns will encourage UGC and spread brand awareness. If you are a B2B company, using hashtags specific to your industry or niche will boost niche visibility. 

Trending hashtags are excellent for boosting organic engagement on your posts. A focused approach to trending Instagram hashtags can even make your content go viral. So, prioritize it. You should also include local hashtag monitoring in your strategy to make area-specific social media campaigns more relatable to the local audience. 

Determining the ideal number of hashtags per post

Building a list of compelling hashtags isn’t enough. Your strategy must contain the ideal number of hashtags per post. While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, you don’t need all of them.

Overusing hashtags can make your post look spammy. A good practice is to use around 5-15 relevant hashtags per post. 

How to use Instagram hashtags effectively

Here is how to add Instagram hashtags to your social media posts:

Incorporating hashtags into your content

The placement of Instagram hashtags in your content can make or break your discoverability. They should be relevant to the content’s messaging and naturally blend into the captions. 

However, adding too many hashtags in the caption makes your content look inauthentic. Instead, add a comment to give your audience a more detailed context and add some relevant hashtags there. 

Using hashtags while interacting with fans in the comments is also an excellent idea, especially if you have a branded hashtag. It encourages further engagement and hashtag-specific UGC submissions. You can even use hashtags as stickers while creating and posting Instagram stories or reels. 

The art of storytelling through hashtags

Instagram hashtags must tell a story. Otherwise, they look like a blatant attempt to improve reach. 

Divide your content into segments or chapters and add a specific hashtag for each. These should represent your story’s intent clearly without giving away too much. This approach creates anticipation and keeps your audience engaged as they follow along.

Turn the hook of your content into a hashtag. It piques your audience further and makes following the story convenient.

Tracking and measuring hashtag performance

To grow in a crowded platform with a finicky algorithm like Instagram, your hashtag strategy must evolve and improve constantly. That requires understanding what’s working, what isn’t, and what could be better. 

You can always track each hashtag’s engagement, compare them, and benchmark them against your goals. You can note the engagement rates after using specific hashtags and monitor their performance over time. However, the manual grind is time-consuming, unreliable, and not feasible for the long term. 

That’s where tools such as Keyhole can help through a couple of simple steps:

1.Log into your Keyhole account 

2. On the following page, click on the Hashtag Campaign Tracking option. 

3. Enter your Instagram hashtag in the box and click “Add Tracker.”

4. On the next page, you will find platform options to select which your newly-created hashtag tracker will monitor. Select Instagram to have a platform-specific view of your hashtag performance. Then click on “Create Tracker.”

5. Keyhole will track your chosen Instagram hashtag and produce reports within seconds.

Regularly monitor engagement and reach of every hashtag on Instagram. If you see performance dropping for some time, consider the hashtag outdated.

Instagram hashtags guide: Best practices

To ensure successful hashtag optimization on Instagram, here are some additional points you need to be mindful about:

Avoiding hashtag spam

One of the common risks to your visibility and engagement is hashtag spamming. It refers to using irrelevant, inappropriate, or too many hashtags. Hashtag spam may even cause shadowbanning and prevent your content from showing up on feeds. 

The following tips can help you avoid that:

  • Using repetitive hashtags can make your posts look spammy and bland. Ensure a balanced mix of different hashtags. 
  • Limit your hashtag usage to 5-10 per post. You can add some on a pinned comment as well. 
  • Regularly measure your hashtag performance and discard the outdated ones. 

Adhering to Instagram’s guidelines

Instagram’s algorithm is quite strict in filtering content that doesn’t follow their guidelines. So, be mindful of them before creating content and using hashtags. Your hashtag mustn’t contain swear words or other inappropriate terms, as it may get you shadowbanned. 

Rotating and testing hashtags

Rotate hashtag sets in different posts and see which combinations work the best for you. It also keeps your hashtag usage vibrant and lets you target different viewer segments with each post. 

Staying updated with trending Instagram hashtags

Keep an eye on trending challenges and their hashtags. See which ones align with your brand identity. Use social listening to locate challenges your target audience is engaging with. Participate in them early on and add the related hashtags to optimize results. 

Instagram hashtags trends 

Instagram hashtags today keep evolving. 

So, it’s difficult to pin down a specific pattern for hashtag trends. Themed or holiday hashtags become popular in their respective seasons. The rising popularity of memes also generates trendy hashtags that brands use to stay relevant.

For example, International Sushi Day is on June 8th, and for the last few years, #interationalsushiday has been gaining decent traction on Instagram. 

Similarly, one of the trending memes this year is a video of Jennifer Lawrence crying and asking, “What do you mean?” over and over again, taken from a segment of the Hot Ones show. It gave birth to #WhatDoYouMean, one of the most-used Instagram hashtags in 2023.

By searching the hashtag #WhatDoYouMean, you will find multiple brands and creators using this meme and hashtag for their content like the above post.


While we wrap up today’s discussion, here is a TL;DR version of our Instagram hashtags guide: 

  • Research your target audience and assess competitors to identify relevant hashtags
  • Create a mix of branded, industry-specific, themed, or location-based hashtags 
  • Don’t use too many or repetitive hashtags to avoid spamming
  • Incorporate storytelling into your hashtag strategy
  • Use social listening to identify trends early on
  • Track performance and tweak your practices accordingly

For social media marketers, standing out among Instagram’s huge crowd has become difficult. But the right hashtags can be their way out. 

With Keyhole’s hashtag tracking features, you can identify the trending Instagram hashtags and find the ones driving tangible results in your industry. 

Wondering if it’s right for you? Sign up for your free trial today and see for yourself!

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