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Have you optimized your Instagram hashtags for 2018? Here's the guide. - Riotly Social Media

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You have an Instagram account and you’re looking to increase followers/engagement through your hashtags. We understand it isn’t easy.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help! In this entry we will tell you how to use hashtags to maximize your post engagement on Instagram.  If you can’t wait to upgrade your Instagram growth, sign up for our private Instagram Crash Course. You’ll get the best topics to grow your Instagram.

To jumpstart your Instagram today, try our 6-day Free Trial to start growing your followers immediately!

Here’s everything you need to know:

Frequently Asked Questions:


  1. Why are hashtags so important?
  2. How to add Instagram hashtags
  3. Types of Instagram hashtags:
    1. General hashtags
    2. Niche hashtags
    3. Community-related Hashtags
    4. Location hashtags
    5. Branded hashtags
  4. Instagram hashtags Rules and Best practices:
    1. Should my account be public?
    2. Can I use irrelevant hashtags just because they’re popular?
    3. Should I add hashtags to my Instagram Stories?
    4. Should I add hashtags to my BIO?
  5. Other good tips to consider when using Instagram hashtags
  6. Four excellent tools to find relevant hashtags


Hashtags can help you position your post and open up new possibilities to win more followers and reach for your account.

Believe it or not, Instagram hashtags can really help you spread the word on this social media platform.

A study by Simply Measured indicated that posts using at least one hashtag had 12.6% more engagement than those with no hashtags at all.

And since your goal is to achieve the greatest engagement with your posts, we created the ultimate guide for using Instagram hashtags. 

Follow them to maximize your posts at no extra cost.

Why hashtags are important

As we mentioned before, posts with hashtags have more engagement than those without them.

This is precisely the reason why hashtags are among the best tools for users, influencers, and brands to increase their visibility on Instagram.

When you use at least one hashtag on an Instagram post, you are making it possible for new users to discover your content. As you can imagine, using more than one hashtag gives you even more reach and exposure. Here’s how:

Instagram’s algorithm considers the hashtags on your posts to show them up first on the Instagram hashtag search, Instagram’s Explore tab or on your follower’s main Instagram feed.

Influencers and brands use hashtags to win more likes, comments, and new followers.

Also, if you represent a brand you can create a specific branded hashtag for your users to participate in other advanced dynamics such as:

  • Live Events
  • Contests
  • Crowdsourcing Strategies

We’ll speak more about these tactics below. The whole point is that you can use Instagram hashtags freely with a lot of flexibility depending on your goal.

By using the proper Instagram hashtags, you can reach your target audience, win customers, increase engagement and connect to more users. If you are interested in more ideas for growing your Instagram exposure, check out this article on 8 more ways to grow your Instagram exposure for your brand.

Ok, so now that we’re clear about the benefits of using hashtags in your posts, let’s talk about how to use them.

How to add Instagram hashtags

If you are new to Instagram, follow these steps to insert a hashtag in your image or video post (feel free to skip this if you’re an experienced user):

  1. Select an image or video from the gallery and upload it.
  2. After selecting an Instagram filter and writing a caption, type “#” followed by a keyword to create a hashtag (for example, “#beach”).
  3. Find your best time to post 
  4. Publish it!

It’s easy right?

AND, if for some reason you forgot to add hashtags to your post before uploading them to Instagram, don’t worry; you can add them later. Here’s how:

To add hashtags to your already published post, click the three dots at the top right of the image and select “edit.” From here you can edit the image caption AND include any hashtags you may have forgotten.

steps to add instagram hashtags

3 Simple Steps to add Instagram hashtags to an existing post

But wait! Did you know there’s another way to add Instagram Hashtags to your posts?

You can include them in the comment section and they work just as if you used them in your Instagram captions. But you have to add them quickly or they will lose their effectiveness.

Using these basic steps, you can begin using Instagram hashtags to your advantage.

Types of Instagram hashtags

As we said above, Instagram hashtags can be very effective for increasing your engagement on Instagram and becoming an expert in the social network.

There are different types of hashtags for Instagram you can use depending on your goals and the images you publish.

Product / Industry / Service and other General hashtags

general product or industry hashtag for instagram

This is just a general product or industry hashtag, It has a lot of competition though.

Industry hashtags or general hashtags are used by professionals and brands who want to make their work known. These types of hashtags increase your engagement, followers, likes, and comments.

For example: #journalist #photographer #dancer #singer #shoes #table.

If you are dedicated to one activity, trade or sport and simply want to show your skills to the world, this type of hashtag can work wonders for you. By using simple, descriptive words to portray your pic, you can reach a larger number of users who might be searching for those keywords.

The downside to these hashtags is that they are widely used and therefore highly competitive. Furthermore, the views and followers you get may not be segmented by location or specific interests.

They can drive sales but you have to be very lucky to get someone from your desired demographic to watch your content.

They are good if you just want followers and likes and you don’t care where they come from. Otherwise, mix them up with other types of hashtags to help your post gain better visibility and segmentation into the right groups. If you want to further boost your engagement with hashtags, don’t miss this article – the one secret Instagram hashtag strategy which can accelerate your organic like and follower growth.

Niche hashtags

zumba dancer instagram hashtags

They use #zumbadancer instead of just #dancer

This type of hashtag for Instagram is similar to the industry hashtag but a little more detailed.

For example, you can use #popsinger #zumbadancer instead of just #singer or #dancer. When you do this your posts can be found by those who are truly interested in your stuff.

Be specific to build a narrow and targeted audience in the long run.

Don’t worry if your hashtags do not seem popular. In fact, less competition might mean your content has a better chance of being in the top discovered posts. Hashtags with 100 – 500 users is plenty.

The other nice thing about specific niche hashtags is that they look a lot more organic and human. Bots and spammers use the most popular and generic Instagram hashtags.

In some way, you can humanize and portray your brand better to your followers by using specific niche Instagram hashtags. If you’re confused about how to pick the right hashtag that maximizes organic engagement with your content, this hashtag strategy is a great article to check out.

Community-related Hashtags

community related hashtags for instagram

If you’re into CrossFit, you can tag your posts with #crossfitaddict. It’s really easy to have a “Top post” with these specific hashtags

With the hashtag tool, Instagram users can be part of specific groups in which they can share their likes and passions.

It’s somewhat like Facebook groups, where you can discuss, exchange opinions and talk about specific topics.

For example, if you’re into the vegan lifestyle you can use #veganfoodlover to search for a group.

The hashtag you use to search for groups should include the keyword and some other information.

This can help you meet people who share your same interests through Instagram.

The other cool thing about these specific niche hashtags and community hashtags is that you have more chances to get featured on the Popular and “Top Posts” section.

If you take the time to comment on these photos and really get to know the members of this community, you can make valuable connections.

Searching through Instagram community hashtags is the best way to find trends, inspiration and ideas from other users on the topics you are interested in.

Whether you’re a new user, a famous influencer or even a multinational brand, Instagram’s communities are a great tool to use.

Instagram specific niche shashtags

This picture with only 112 likes is one of the TOP POSTS for #suculentaslovers since it is a small niche

The location hashtags

As the same name says, these hashtags are nothing but the names of the places where the picture or video was taken.

Why is this so important? This is the hashtag that can actually drive more sales if you sell a physical product or service.

It’s the best way to find users who want to purchase what you’re offering and CAN actually do it.

For example: #USA #Florida #Miami #MiamiBeach

You can narrow it down by only using the hashtags of the places you can distribute your product to. You don’t have to include the country or state if you only serve a specific location.

And if you want to make it a little more personalized, try including your profession, product or service like these examples:

#italianfashionblogger #canadatravelblogger

italian fashion blogger instagram hashtag

There’s a huge community of Italian fashion bloggers. Find similar communities in your location and industry!

Do some research! Sometimes there are existing communities in your country, state or town that you can become part of.

This type of hashtag is very common among many Instagram users, regardless of the business area.

Also, using a hashtag specifying your location can get you featured on Instagram’s location tabs. This is a great way for people who are starting on Instagram to get new localized followers.  

The branded hashtag

The branded hashtags are those created by a company, brand, media, etc. Usually made to promote a particular campaign or slogan.

They can contain the name of the company, a keyword or any other phrase you want to promote.

As we said earlier in this article branded hashtags are very flexible and can serve many purposes. But, the thing about these branded hashtags is that they won’t generate more reach by themselves. If you want to use branded hashtags on Instagram you have to combine them with other strategies.

Why aren’t branded hashtags effective for getting more followers on Instagram? The power of hashtags comes from the huge amount of people who use them, and most users won’t search or add your branded hashtags to their posts unless you give them a strong motivation to do it.

So, how do you use branded hashtags to your advantage?

You can use branded hashtags to:

  • Engage with your followers during Live Events
  • Create Raffles and Contests
  • Make your users create content for your account with Crowdsourcing Strategies (Read this if you want to gain more Instagram followers by different means)
  • Position your Brand deeper in your followers’ minds

In all cases, we suggest you create and use only one Branded Instagram Hashtag per campaign or slogan. And only one for your brand’s name.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into these tactics.

Branded Instagram hashtags for Crowdsourcing strategies

Instagram hashtags for crowdsourcing strategies

In a crowdsourcing strategy, you encourage users to create content for your brand.

The goal of this tactic to encourage people to create their own content using your products and services. It’s great because you can practically make your followers work for you.

They can generate new content every day, and you can share the best of it on your account.

The brand gets new material generated by its users while making their followers feel special and important.

It is a win-win strategy. The fans who use your branded Instagram hashtag get re-posted and increase their number of followers and likes in return for their loyalty.

Example: The Bershka account uses the #BershkaStyle hashtag even in its Instagram stories to promote campaigns for its new beauty cosmetics.

Bershka instagram hashtags

As you can see they encourage their followers to use their branded Instagram hashtag and they re-post the best.


Branded Instagram Hashtags for Contests.

branded Instagram hashtags for contests

With the branded hashtag, they can easily identify who is participating and re-posting.

Also, it is a good idea to use branded Instagram hashtags when you create a competition, contest or raffle.

Simply make it part of the rules. All users who want to participate should use the branded Instagram hashtag that you created.

When you do these types of contests it’s a good idea to invite users to mention their friends. This way you’ll get more exposure. 

Interested in learning more?

We wrote an article to give you more ideas to gain Instagram exposure. Don’t miss it.

Branded Instagram Hashtags for a better positioning:

Sometimes you just don’t have a specific campaign or event to promote. But you can use a branded hashtag anyway to position your slogan and name across the internet.

Remember, “repetition creates familiarity.” When we repeat things more than once we stick them in our memories.

Repetition also leads to understanding. If you repeat something, even if it’s strange or complex, it becomes clear and understandable with time.

Branded instagram hashtags for positioning

As you can see #Nike still repeats their immortal slogan #Justdoit and their brand’s name in their hashtags.


Instagram hashtags Rules and Best practices:

Here are a few ideas you can try to maximize your results on Instagram.

While there is no magic formula, these are some “hashtag best practices” you can use to increase your visibility.

Your account must be public:

Private profiles don’t appear on Instagram Search.

So there’s no reason to use hashtags if your account is private.

If you want to get the benefits of getting exposure and new followers on Instagram your profile must be public.

With a public account, all users on Instagram will be able to see your post, comment and like it.

When you have a private account and use hashtags, the posts will only be visible to those you have previously accepted as followers. It might help you a little with your existing followers but it’s not beneficial on a large scale.

Therefore, if you want to use hashtags to maximize your reach your account should be public.

On the other hand, if you don’t want much exposure on any given photo, don’t use any hashtags on it.

private instagram account

You can have a private account OR get followers with hashtags but you can’t do both.

Don’t use irrelevant hashtags, even if they’re popular:

By using relevant hashtags with your post, you can increase your visibility on the social network.

Be consistent with the hashtags you use. If your post is about sports, don’t use a hashtag that has nothing to do with sports just because it’s popular.

Also avoid using generic and desperate hashtags like: #follow4follow #like4like #igers #instagrammers #tagsforlikes

While it is true that these hashtags bring followers and exposure, most of it will come from bots, spammers, and uninterested users. This will definitely damage your progress in the long run.

Remember, if your followers are not real or truly engaged, Instagram’s algorithm will punish your account. 

Additionally, these hashtags could be annoying by some Instagram users. Many of them can even report your account as”spam” just for posting content not related to a particular hashtag.

The 30 hashtags Rule:

30 hashtags rule on Instagram

Be careful!

Instagram only allows you to use 30 hashtags per publication, so be careful.

If you use more than 30 hashtags in your Instagram post it will not be visible to others.

Although most users do not use this amount, they do include a significant number.

You can also change or update the hashtags on your pic but you can’t have more than 30 hashtags at the same time. 

Believe it or not, there’s more to this rule, including ways to beat the system.

Use this secret Instagram hashtags strategy to guarantee your post is liked and engaged with by thousands.


Remember, you can hide your hashtags in the comments:

You can hide them if you don’t want your followers or your competitors to see the Instagram hashtags you’re using, or if you just prefer a hashtag-free caption.

You can achieve a clean look by putting the hashtags in a comment, and starting that comment with five dots, each on its own line break, and then add all your hashtags in the bottom. This forces Instagram to collapse the comment.

Putting the hashtags in the comments works just as fine as if they were in the caption.

Once your fans begin to comment, the hashtags will get covered up by other comments.

Remember you can also delete, replace, and change the hashtags in your posts a few minutes later after they have done their job.

Don’t exceed the 30 hashtags limit! if you want to add more you’ll have to replace them.

Using hashtags like everyone else just doesn’t work. Your account will not grow no matter how you hide your hashtags. But do you know there is one secret hashtag strategy which can definitely boost your post likes? This article shows you how it works!


Add hashtags to your Instagram Stories:

Hashtags on instagram stories

And the best thing about hashtags on Instagram stories is that you can hide them behind a sticker or emoji.

Yes! you can add hashtags to your Instagram Stories and they will show up on that hashtag’s top posts.

In fact, since the Instagram stories are new and a little bit more complex to use it is a lot easier to position your content in these stories.

There’s another secret many people don’t know about yet!

You can write up to 10 hashtags on the stories too! Just write them in a text box just like you’d do in the Instagram caption.

You can also write them one by one or paste them into a text box.

It’s an incredibly easy way to position your content on Instagram search and top posts since no one else is doing it!

Add a few hashtags to your BIO too:

Adidas Branded instagram hashtags on your bio

Look how they include the hashtag of their latest campaign #ThePulseOf in their Bio.


Of course, you can and should include hashtags in your bio.

Including hashtags in your Instagram account biography is positive and beneficial.

After all, your bio is a representation of who you are, the first impression you give to users. It works just like a CV or resume.

Some users and authors discourage using hashtags in your bio because they won’t show up on Instagram’s hashtag search. And this is true, the hashtags on your bio won’t be considered in Instagram’s search.

But many others find that adding them to your bio is a fun way to promote your branded hashtags and campaigns.

A good description in your profile’s biography section can increase your followers and customers on Instagram.

Always use them as a way to show your brand’s personality.

Whether you’re a massive influencer or a little-known user, many people could find it strange that your bio is empty and can report you as “spam.” Hashtags can help you fill that blank space.

Types of hashtags you can add to your Instagram Bio:

Bonnie Instagram Hashtag on Profile

This girl encourages her followers to tag her in their pictures and she re-posts the best

You can add all types of Instagram hashtags. The best ones to include in your bio are the community and branded Instagram hashtags.

Add industry hashtags to describe your work.

You can also add location hashtags if you have multiple locations. This is useful because Instagram only lets you add one Geo tag on your profile.

And since personality is an important thing to show in your bio, it’s a good idea to use the community hashtags to describe your passions.

Now, don’t just fill your biography with hashtags. You must describe what you do in your biography.

Also, you can use emojis. They’re good to personalize and further humanize your account.

The example to the right shows how all these tips have been applied to an Instagram biography.

Other good tips to consider when using Instagram hashtags:

Think outside the box!  

Similar related hashtags on instagram

This is a common practice. They use related hashtags to reach a similar audience that might be interested.

The relationship between hashtags sometimes might not be as obvious as you think. Use hashtags related to the main ones.

For example, the fans of Ariana Grande might also be interested in other pop artists such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez.

In this case, the hashtags are not unrelated.

And generally it works both ways. Instagram users who are looking for info about these other artists will also be interested.

Look at your audience for similar interests and things in common.

Keep an eye on your competition:

We’ve mentioned this in other entries. It’s crucial to know your target audience but it’s equally important to know the competitors.

While it’s true that we must compete with ourselves, it’s also true that we must be attentive to the changes that our competition makes.

Follow your competitor’s steps closely! By doing this, you’ll see the hashtags they’re using and the communities they’re trying to reach.

Consider using their hashtags in your own posts. After all, hashtags are free to use (even if they’re “branded”).

Always be evolving and identifying the new trends in the market.

Mix popular hashtags with not so popular hashtags:

mix popular and not popular hashtags on instagram

As you can see is a lot lot easier to have a top post using #taiwanfashion than just #taiwan or #fashion

Instagram’s “top post” section shows the posts with more engagement for that particular hashtag.

In this section, Instagram shows the nine most popular Instagram posts using that hashtag.

There are some hacks and tips you can follow to get one of these desired nine spots. We wrote this article to elaborate the key concept and how it works.

For most of us who don’t have an account with more than 100,000 followers, it is very unlikely that we get the top spots on the most popular hashtags. 

It is easier to position on longer and more specific hashtags.

Be quick and timely:

Instagram rewards the speed in which your post get likes and comments with a good position in the hashtag’s top post section.

This happens during the first few minutes and hours in which the post is uploaded. The algorithm is constantly being updated to show the newest and more popular posts with that particular hashtag.

use instagram analytics

If you have a business account use the insights to post on your best hours

One of the best ways to leverage this is to post in the times when your audience is more active.

To reach the largest number of users on Instagram, you can closely monitor the times in which followers connect in the social network, and post at those times.

Instagram native analytics can help you identify the best times to post, and you can use a scheduling tool to schedule the time of the publication.

Encouraging your followers to engage quickly is very useful too. And answering their comments immediately can also help.

Some users even try to manually increase this engagement in the first few minutes with Instagram pods. While this seems to be an option, its long term effectiveness is yet to be confirmed. However, there are some Instagram growth hackers using this unseen hashtag strategy. I think it’s worth checking out if you’re serious about growing your engagement.

Have a great Instagram caption in your post:

Creating good Instagram captions to match your posts is extremely important. It can cause users to love or hate your posts.

Depending on the style of the account you manage, there are certain styles of captions that will guarantee success.

Most big brands use very simple captions that include a call-to-action.

By posting good media and adding the right captions and hashtags you will get positive engagement and hopefully get in the “top posts” of the hashtags you use.

Four excellent tools to find relevant hashtags

One of the most common questions asked by Instagram users is how to find relevant hashtags for their posts.

There are several ways to find the right Instagram hashtags. Using Hashtag search tools will save you the time of improvising or guessing with your posts.

So, what are the tools to find the right Instagram hashtags? 

Instagram Search:

Instagram search Hashtags

Look all the hashtags you can get with just one word!

The easiest and most organic way to find relevant Instagram hashtags for your post is the Instagram app itself.

Select the Instagram search icon

Write the keyword you want to search.

Select Tags

By doing that, you will see many hashtags that you can use for your post, with the number of posts currently using them. This list is limited, it just shows the most popular options. It doesn’t show all the hashtags you can use.

This is simple, but it has downsides:

  • They’re not sorted by popularity.
  • You’ll have to manually select the hashtags.
  • You’ll also have to write them by yourself when you want to add them to your posts.

Fortunately, there are advanced applications for this too.

Here is a list of external tools to get popular Instagram hashtags:


To use the application, you only have to enter the name of the keyword that you want to use on the search option.

The page will display the most relevant topics and hashtags that associated with the term.

It’s a lot smarter than Instagram’s native search. 

Hashtagify Instagram Hashtags tool

It gives you related topics instead of just a list of hashtags that include the same word.

The best thing about this tool: It’s free! The bad news is that the free version works for twitter only. If you want to use it for detailed Instagram hashtag analysis you’ll have to get the pro version.

The Instagram search will make it easier to identify the most relevant hashtags for your community.

This is a web app only, it doesn’t have any version for Android or iOS.

Display Purposes:

We like this application and we find it very useful because it’s simple and effective.

Simply put, write one or two keywords about your post and the application will automatically show the best 30 hashtags in order of relevance.

The best thing about this one is that it gives you a ready-to-use list with both popular and relevant Instagram hashtags.

display purposes tool instagram hashtags


Also, it has a map section to see geo-location tags and a graph section that shows how the hashtags are related to each other.

This one is also a web app only, it doesn’t have any version for Android or iOS.


This tool can be very useful! In addition to giving you hashtags for Instagram, it will also help you with other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

First, you must enter the word or hashtag of interest and then update it regularly. The page will give you the list of all the posts with that hashtag across all platforms.

The trick to get the most out of this tagboard is to find relevant content and feature it in a public display.

best Instagram hashtag tools

It works great for Live contests! The interface looks awesome!

It also works for social interaction. You can use it like HootSuite to respond through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.


top-hashtags.com tool for instagram

Simple and super-effective!

We find it very quick and easy to use. You can get the most out of it if you are just starting on Instagram because it gets straight to the point.

Insert the keyword in the search tab and the page will give you the best hashtags to use in your post immediately. It will also tell you the number of posts using that particular hashtag.

If you click on one of these hashtags it will give you ready-to-use lists with 30 hashtags to copy and paste into your post.

Best of all, this website app is also free and can be used by anyone who knows how to do a Google search.


Instagram hashtags can be your best ally. Although it is hard to get featured in the hashtag’s “top post” section, you should always aim for it.

Undoubtedly, the perfect combination of different types of hashtags can generate more engagement in your posts as long as you have a public account.

Remember, be very careful and don’t use any hashtag that isn’t directly related to the content you’re sharing.

And that’s it… Please, tell us about your experience. Have you managed to position some content in a hashtag’s “top posts”? We’d like to know your experience using hashtags, please leave us some insights in the comments section below.

One last tip you can apply NOW:

Hashtags are great to build an audience in the long run. After learning all the basic tips, it’s time to set up a repeatable system to maximize the hashtag effect on the engagement! I’ll include everything in this article – the ultra-secret method of getting organic follows and likes by picking the right hashtags on Instagram.

If you think you wish to move to the next level to grow Instagram, pick the right topic in our Instagram Crash Course below! Let’s level up!