The Ultimate Hashtag Guide

#Hashtags have come a long way from when they were first seen on Twitter in 2007. Nowadays, hashtags are a fundamental part of social media content and marketing strategies, especially on Instagram. 

Not only do hashtags drive engagement, they make it easy to find specific content, and boost brand awareness. And while using a hashtag is relatively easy, taking advantage of the power behind hashtags can be a little tricky.

There are trending hashtags, user generated hashtags, personal and location specific hashtags. Using the right hashtags can drive in more traffic, while using the wrong hashtag can leave people feeling confused or annoyed.

If you want to take advantage of the power of Instagram hashtags but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered! Let’s dive into everything you need to know about hashtags and how to make them work for you.

Why are Hashtags Used on Instagram?

Bottom line, hashtags help the right people discover your posts. Instagram has over 500 million active users per day. That makes for a lot of content! In fact, almost 70% of Instagram posts go unseen.

Using hashtags on your posts help you reach your target audience, and even more importantly, helps your target audience find you! Just adding one hashtag to your post can increase your engagement by 12.6%.

Building an Online Presence using Hashtags

Not only do hashtags make you more discoverable, but they’re also a key part of building a loyal following and creating your very own online community of followers. The creation of niche-specific hashtags has encouraged like-minded people to come together and share valuable content with the people who will benefit and appreciate it the most! It’s a pretty powerful tool.

How you use niche-specific hashtags will have a direct impact on how Instagram classifies your content. When you’re intentional with selecting hashtags you tell Instagram exactly who you want to be checking out your content.

Key Hashtags for Brands on Instagram

Industry-Specific Hashtags– These hashtags are used to indicate the industry your brand is in and are more specific than your product or service hashtags. #blackhairsalon or #handmadeknits. 

Product or Service Hashtags– The purpose of these hashtags is to highlight specific products or services and are more general, such as #nailsalon or  #cupcakes.

Branded Hashtags– This can be your brand’s name or slogan. It can also be a specific product or service that your company offers that is unique to you. 

Location Specific Hashtags– This is a great way to target Instagram users in your area. Examples of this would be, #utahbakery or #nycnailsalon.

User-generated Hashtags- This type of hashtag is for your loyal customers/followers to use on their own posts that showcase your products! This gives people viewing the hashtag an unbiased and unsponsored look at your products or services. These types of hashtags are also a fun way to build brand awareness and brand loyalty.

Audience Descriptive Hashtags– These are hashtags in which you are describing your target audience. If you’re in the fitness industry you could use hashtags like #fitgirls or #guyswhoworkout

Frequently Asked Hashtag Questions

How many hashtags can I include in my post?

Instagram will let you use 30 hashtags per post. Of course, that doesn’t always mean you should. Remember, it’s more important to stick to hashtags that are relevant to your post and your brand. Later’s data report shows that including between 20-30 hashtags in your posts is the best way to increase your reach and engagement rates. 

Do I have to include the hashtags in my post?

No! Including an entire block of hashtags in your post isn’t very pretty to look at. And let’s be honest, this is Instagram we’re talking about. Consider adding your hashtags in the comments section instead. The hashtags will be buried in the comments and a lot less visible. You can also include hashtags in your Instagram stories as well!

Can I use the same hashtags in each post?

Instagram doesn’t appreciate the copy/paste hashtag approach and it has the potential to make your account look like its purpose is to spam its users. Not only that, Instagram’s algorithm tends to penalize accounts that repurpose the same exact hashtags over and over. Being less visible and discoverable on Instagram is a very bad thing. 

Are there any hashtags I should avoid using?

Avoid using gimmicky hashtags such as #likeforlike. Remember back in the day when people used to buy followers to make their social media accounts look more popular than they really were? Using gimmicky hashtags is kind of like that. Sure, you may occasionally get more people looking at your posts, but is it the right people?

So, while it may be tempting to include a trending hashtag for the sake of driving traffic, it usually won’t pay off in the end. Not to mention, Instagram has included a feature that allows its users to report your account for including irrelevant or spammy hashtags. This could be bad news for your account.

At the end of the day, you want to make sure that people who are looking at your content are actually there for the right reasons, even if it means it takes longer to grow a larger audience.

Picking the Right Hashtags for your Brand

Now that you understand the basics of using hashtags,  it’s time to start selecting the right hashtags for your brand. Before you get started, keep these things in mind:

Trending Hashtags aren’t Always a Safe Bet

Sometimes less is more. Just because a trending hashtag gets millions upon millions of views, certainly doesn’t mean your post will. In fact, the opposite is true. Consider this: #dog is an incredibly popular hashtag on Instagram with over 145 million posts. However, #poodlepuppies has only 144k posts. Which hashtag are you more likely to be discovered through? 

Research your Industry

A great way to see what hashtags you should be using for your brand is to browse through similar accounts. What hashtags are your competitors using? What unique brand exclusive hashtags have they come up with? What hashtags do their followers most engage with? Learning what hashtags other brands in your industry are using will be a key component of your research.

Use a Hashtag Suggestion Tool

There are some amazing hashtag tools on the market today! Later’s Hashtag Suggestion tool is an easy way to find hashtags based on the content of your post and it will help you find similar hashtags within your industry.


So there you have it! Everything you need to start using hashtags on Instagram like a pro. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to increase your reach and get more eyes on your content. And don’t forget – always experiment with different hashtags to find the ones that work best for you and your brand. What are you waiting for? Start hashtaggin’!