How to Use Hashtags on Instagram in 2021 (An Actionable Guide)

hashtags on Instagram

Did you know that 70% of the users on Instagram look up a brand on the platform? With a huge 1 billion strong monthly user base, what are the chances of your brand getting discovered by Instagram users? One smart way to increase your brand reach is by adding Instagram hashtags. 

Hashtags on Instagram are a discoverability tool that you cannot underestimate. In fact, statistics show that Instagram posts with hashtags tend to receive 12.6% times more engagement. 

Since hashtags can help you amp up your engagement levels, it is important for you to come up with a foolproof hashtag strategy on Instagram. The Instagram algorithm favors content that generated a good engagement rate. As such, the more engagement your content generates, the more likely you are to get your content seen on Instagram. Use hashtags to get your brand on the fast track and amp up your engagement levels. 

When it comes to brands using hashtags on Instagram, Nike’s #JustDoIt is a notable example. In total, the hashtag has generated over 18 million posts. Hashtags play an important role in building brand and campaign awareness. 

The way you use Instagram hashtags can actually make or break your marketing efforts on the platform. To help you ace your hashtags on Instagram, we’ve compiled a quick guide for your reference. 

So let’s dive straight in!

1) How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram? 

Instagram has a limit for the number of hashtags you can include in every post. Though Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags on your posts. But that does not mean you have to add all the hashtags in your post. Going overboard with your hashtags, in an effort to enhance your reach, on the contrary, can lead your content to appear spammy.

Statistics show that 9-10 is a good number of hashtags for Instagram posts. It has been found that sticking to 9-10 hashtags for Instagram posts is good for generating audience engagement.

For your Instagram story, you can add up to 10 hashtags. Avoid crowding up your Instagram Story with too many hashtags. The trick is to shrink the size of your hashtag or hide them behind emojis, GIFs and images. View your Instagram Stories insights and get more information on the performance of your Stories.

Where Can You Include Your Hashtags on Instagram?

You can add hashtags to your Instagram posts and stories.

Besides that, you can also include hashtags in your Instagram bio and in comments as well. 

2) Which Hashtags to Use on Instagram? 

The hashtags that you add to your Instagram posts play an important role in getting your content seen. The hashtags on your Instagram posts and stories can actually make or break your Instagram game. 

The ideal approach to this is to include a variety of hashtags in your Instagram posts. A mix of generic and specific hashtags can help you reach larger and more diverse segments of the audience. 

There are many ways in which you can optimize your Instagram engagement and reach just by managing your hashtag usage on the platform. 

Now, we will look at the different tricks and tips on how you can use hashtags on Instagram.

a) Add Niche and Industry-Related Hashtags 

As we mentioned before, using the right mix of hashtags helps you reach diverse audience segments. Include generic hashtags related to your niche or industry. By doing so, your post will be included in a pool of content with the same hashtag. 

It is ideal to include at least 1-2 generic hashtags related to your industry so that you can reach users interested in content and/or brands associated with your industry.

Consider a scenario in which a user in his/her 20s may want to purchase a pair of sneakers. Given its visual nature, Instagram may be an ideal platform to turn to for discovering niche sneaker brands. In fact, on Instagram, the user can discover different sneaker brands in action with people actually posting content featuring those sneakers. 

In this context, if you are marketing your sneaker brand, you’d want to get noticed by such users. Including hashtags such as #sneakers, #sneakershop and #sneakerstore can help you get your brand noticed. 

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Instagram Hashtags

Hashtags on Instagram

b) Use Branded Hashtags 

It is equally important to include more specific hashtags as a part of your Instagram strategy. While generic hashtags are helpful in getting yourself discovered, you can’t rely on these hashtags alone. In this way, your content will get lost in a pool of other posts featuring the same hashtags. 

The idea is to combine generic hashtags with specific hashtags related to your brand and/or products. By doing this, you can reach more niche audiences and get your content seen. 

You can create hashtags out of your brand name and/or products to increase awareness about your brand. You can also use your brand slogans as hashtags. 

Instagram Hashtag Strategy

3) Run Hashtag Campaigns 

Take your Instagram hashtag strategy up a notch by running hashtag campaigns. Create catchy, customized hashtags around your brand to get your target audiences engaged with your brand. 

Run user-generated content campaigns based on your customized hashtag and increase brand awareness and engagement. 

Adobe, for instance, runs monthly hashtag campaigns. Every month, the brand creates a customized theme hashtag around which users can create Instagram posts. Then, Adobe posts content from users on their Instagram feed. 

Instagram Hashtag Campaigns

There are over 45k posts for Adobe’s hashtag of the month- #createyourstory.

Hashtag Campaigns on Instagram

User-generated content campaigns based on hashtags like this one by Adobe can help increase awareness about your brand and enhance engagement.

4) Use Social Media Analytics Tool

Using social media analytics to understand which Instagram hashtags are doing well and which ones aren’t. Tap into intelligence about your content as well as insights about your target audience to find which hashtags should you ideally go for. 

Most social media analytics tools such as Unbox Social allow you to dig deeper into your Instagram handles. Jump into insights for every single post you put out on Instagram. Check out the hashtags which are generating high levels of engagement. 

Using social media analytics by Unbox Social, you can get an overview of the common themes which have generated maximum traction. Based on this analysis, you can figure out which hashtags will be best suited to your campaigns. 

Instagram Hashtags Insights

5) Explore ‘Related Hashtags’

Another smart way in which you can figure out how to use hashtags on Instagram is by exploring the ‘related hashtags’. 

Lookup any hashtag relevant to your brand on the Instagram explore page. Here, you will find all the posts that feature the given hashtag. 

Let’s look up a generic hashtag on Instagram such as ‘Interiors’. 

Instagram Hashtags To Use


Here, you will also find a set of related hashtags that Instagram suggests. Explore these hashtags to find out if any of these are relevant to your brand and/or products. 

6) Find Out Which Hashtags Your Competitors Are Using

Finding out which hashtags your competitors are using can help you go a long way in building an effective strategy for your brand. Given that your audience overlaps with that of your competitors’, it only makes sense for you to track what they are up to and learn from their hashtag strategy.

Using a reliable competition tracking tool for your brand, you can monitor your competitors’ activity. Track the hashtags that your competitors are using as well as the performance of these hashtags. 

Unbox Social offers a social media competition tracker, using which you can uncover important insights about your competitors. Find out what your competitors are up to and use those insights to build an effective Instagram hashtag strategy for your brand. 

Summing It Up 

Hashtags are important discoverability tools on Instagram. Using the right set of hashtags on Instagram and in an optimal manner can help you spread the word out about your brand on the platform. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of how you can use hashtags on Instagram to amp up your marketing strategy: 

  • Use 9-10 hashtags on your Instagram posts.
  • Utilize your bio, posts as well as stories to include hashtags.
  • Include a combination of generic and specific hashtags to reach larger audience segments.
  • Employ branded hashtags to enhance brand awareness.
  • Run hashtag-based campaigns for your brand.
  • Track your hashtags by using social media analytics tools.
  • Discover ‘related hashtags’ in the explore section of Instagram. Track competitors’ Instagram hashtag usage and learn from their strategy.

Want to know more about Instagram marketing? Read the blogs below-

Where is your Instagram marketing headed in 2021?

20 Creative ways to spice up your Instagram Story questions

Complete guide to Instagram Analytics

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