The humble hashtag is an integral part of Instagram. Using hashtags is how your photos show up in the “Discover” tab, it’s how other people can find pictures, and it leads to more likes. But you probably need some help using the right hashtags.
To an Instagram newbie, the culture of cryptic hashtags is difficult to understand. What’s a #tbt or a #f4f? What does someone mean by #LikeForLike or #Instagood? Knowing what hashtags mean, and which hashtags are used regularly for certain topics like pets or food, can help hone your hashtag strategy.
Starting With the Hottest Instagram Hashtags
Before you figure out a strategy, you first need to understand which hashtags are the most popular on Instagram. Top Hashtags provides a list of the top 100 Instagram hashtags ever used. You can see how many millions of photos are tagged similarly. Even remembering a selection of these might give you a headstart.
One of our favorite lesser-known Instagram tricks is to use the autocomplete feature to get better hashtags. When you start typing a hashtag, Instagram will give you suggestions to complete it, along with the number of times that tag has been used. Obviously, the more popular a tag is, the better your chances are of getting noticed. Remember that the 100th most popular tag has about 60 million posts, so if you find a number close to that, you’re golden.
Finding the Best Hashtags by Topic
The hashtags you use for a photo of your dog playing fetch can’t be the same tags used for a plate of delicious dessert. So how do you find hashtags related to a certain topic? Well, you need to always see the tags others are using, of course. But no one said you can’t use a cheat sheet to help you out.
Head to Display Purposes, and type a word or two about the photo you’re uploading. For example, you might type “dog” and “pets”, and then hit search. The web app will immediately make a list of 30 popular hashtags, which you can tap to copy. It also smartly mixes hashtags so that you don’t get repetitive ones, and are more likely to find hashtags that are growing in popularity.
Display Purposes doesn’t have a mobile app, but you don’t need one anyway. For something like this, it will need to run a web search every time so that you get the latest and greatest hashtags. You’re better off using the website as an app.
Finding Hashtags by Uploading Photos
If you don’t know what to search for, how do you come up with the best hashtag? Try uploading your image to AutoHash, and it will generate keywords based on the picture.
AutoHash uses some smart visual recognition software to analyze your photo and figure out what it is. Then it dives into its database of trending hashtags to match you with the best possible list. It works surprisingly well, especially for common Instagram pictures like food, pets, or travel.
The only issue with AutoHash is that it only recognizes your current GPS location. So if you’ve moved away from where you took the picture, the location hashtag for the photo will be wrong. Make sure you change that.
One of the worst-kept secrets of Instagram’s hashtags is that each day of the week has its own popular hashtag. Or sometimes multiple ones for each day. Now you’ve probably heard of #ThrowbackThursday, where you post photos from years ago. Using the correct hashtag for other days of the week can give you a similar boost.
Use #sundaybrunch if you’re heading out for a relaxing meal at the start of the day.
Sticking With the 5 Most Relevant Hashtags
Too much of anything can spoil things for everyone. And this is true with hashtags too. Instagram limits users to 30 hashtags per photo, but even that’s a bit too much most times. Research has found that five hashtags is the best number to aim for. You can go up or down a couple, but that’s the ideal. So watch how your photos are doing, and start using the tags that are most successful for you.
If you want to throw in more tags, use this trick: Don’t include the hashtags in your caption, since that clutters up the caption. Instead, make the hashtags your first comment on the photo. That way, your photo is clean while still appropriately labelled.
Strategically Using Uncommon Hashtags
Here’s how it works. When you add a hashtag to your photo, that image gets listed in the chronological order of all images with that tag. So if it’s a popular tag, your image will quickly go down the list for people checking out that tag. But if it’s an uncommon tag, then it’ll stay relevant at the top for longer.
It’s difficult to find the balance to reach “uncommon but popular enough”, but after spending some time on Instagram, you should get the hang of it. Remember, unusual Instagram hashtags get noticed too, so have some fun with this.
If You’re an Expert, Flaunt It
Don’t forget, Instagram is inherently a social network. And like with any network, it will pay to get in an influencer’s good books. Influencers often look for peers through expertise, so if you are an expert in any field, then add hashtags which showcase that.
Writing specific words that only someone with the same knowledge as you would know, means that only someone with the same knowledge as you would search for that hashtag. And just like that, you might end up making a valuable connection.
Other Ways to Get Noticed on Instagram
Hashtags are an easy and quick way to get on the radar of other people on Instagram. But even if you use them wisely, you can do better. If you really want to get noticed on Instagram, you need to up your game.
There are other successful methods to try, like identifying your own niche, developing a photo style, and connecting with influencers. Read these tips to gain real followers on Instagram and start building an audience.