Instagram hashtags are still one of the most effective ways to get more eyes (and engagement!) on your Instagram posts.
But how many hashtags should you use? What are the different types of hashtags? Which ones are trending right now? Should they go in your caption or in the comments?
We’re answering all these questions, and more, in our ultimate guide to Instagram hashtags.
How Do Instagram Hashtags Work?
Instagram hashtags are fundamentally a way to label and categorize your content. They then help Instagram serve your posts to relevant users.
In their most simple function, the hashtags you use fuel the search results on the Instagram Explore page:
But it doesn’t end there.
Hashtags are also used as a reference for Instagram’s algorithm, so it can categorize your content and suggest it to users it thinks will have a high interest.
Do Hashtags Still Work on Instagram in 2023?
Hashtags have always been the heart of much debate, especially following Instagram’s recommendation to only use between 3-5 hashtags (more on that later).
However, using relevant, targeted hashtags (and keywords) on posts and Reels is still one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences on Instagram.
That’s why it’s important to have a clear and well-crafted hashtag strategy — without one, you could be missing out on opportunities to optimize your content, drive more engagement, and get followers.
FYI: Later’s Hashtag Tools are trusted by millions of social media managers, brands, and creators to find relevant hashtags, analyze their performance, and more.
What Are the Benefits of Using Hashtags on Instagram?
Using the “right” hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before.
This can translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your brand or business.
Hashtags also have plenty of other uses beyond improving your discoverability.
You can use them for community-building, sourcing user-generated content (UGC), running campaigns, and more.
For example, check out Later’s Instagram post announcing our latest Creator Rates Report:
We use hyper-relevant hashtags like #CreatorRates, #InstagramCreators, and #InfluencerRates in the caption so that users can easily discover our content if they’re on the lookout for a creator rates resource.
Tl;dr: Hashtags help people find your content — increasing the likelihood of likes, comments, shares, and saves.
The Top 50 Most Popular Instagram Hashtags in 2023
Using ultra-popular hashtags isn’t always the best strategy for getting more reach and engagement, as they’re less likely to be seen.
That said, it’s helpful to know what’s trending on the app, so here’s an up-to-date list of the top 50 hashtags on Instagram based on usage over the last month:
*Updated April 2023. Data based on usage within the Later app.
How Many Instagram Hashtags Should You Use On Your Posts?
As we’ve mentioned, Instagram advised creators to use between 3-5 hashtags on their posts, despite allowing up to 30.
As the platform continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, they need to be able to accurately categorize content for the Explore Page and Instagram Reels tab (while also streamlining spammy or irrelevant hashtag use).
The theory? Fewer hashtags = more reliable self-categorization.
To test this, Later analyzed 18M+ Instagram feed posts to see how the number of hashtags impacts reach:
The result? We found that using more hashtags typically yields the best results — with 20 hashtags receiving the highest average reach rate.
So, how many hashtags should you use on Instagram? For now, using more hashtags is still the best strategy for increasing your reach on feed posts.
However, it’s still important to focus on quality, hyper-relevant hashtags — even using 5 or 10 hashtags is better than zero.
#TalkDataToMe: Read Later’s full data report now to discover the optimal number of hashtags for reach and engagement.
What Are the Different Types of Instagram Hashtags?
Before selecting hashtags for your posts, it’s a good idea to consider the different types of hashtags you can include.
This will help make sure you’re covering all the bases with your hashtag strategy.
There are five main types of hashtags to consider:
- Location-based hashtags:Like #BryantPark or #LowerEastSide
- Branded hashtags:For campaigns or events, like #LaterCon
- Industry hashtags:That describes your niche, like #SocialMediaManagers or #WeddingPlanners
- Community-focused hashtags:To bring your community together, like #VanLifeLiving or #IAmASweatyBetty
- Descriptive hashtags:Which describe the content of your actual post, like #WoodwickCandles or #SheaButterProducts
There’s no secret formula for how many of each category you should include, but keeping them in mind can provide hashtag inspiration and help guide your strategy.
How to Find Trending Instagram Hashtags for Your Content Strategy
Later’s hashtag report shows that adding 20-30 hashtags to your Instagram posts is the best way to increase your reach and engagement rates.
But how do you find relevant hashtags for every post? Here are three tactics you can use:
Tactic #1: Use a Hashtag Suggestion Tool like Later
With Later’s Instagram Hashtag Suggestions tool, you can find hashtags based on the content of your post and similar hashtags in your industry.
To use it, tap “Hashtag Suggestions,” from there you’ll have two options to populate hashtags.
Via “Auto” (get automatic hashtag suggestions based on your caption) or by “Search” (enter a hashtag and it’ll suggest relevant ones):
Tactic #2: Conduct Research on the Instagram Explore Page
The Instagram Explore page is a great source of inspiration for your Instagram hashtag strategy.
For the best results, search for keywords that are relevant to your brand or content and check out the “Top” results:
These posts clearly perform well with Instagram’s algorithm, so take note of the different hashtags being used and whether they could work for your content.
Tactic #3: Check Instagram Hashtag Volume Using Instagram’s Tag Search Tool
When it comes to finding the best hashtags, post volume is a really important metric.
If a hashtag has already been used on millions of posts, chances are your post will be drowned out by the masses.
On the other hand, if a hashtag only has a few hundred posts, it’s likely that no one is searching for it on the Instagram Explore page.
For a safe middle-ground, aim for hashtags with between 10K-200K posts.
To check a hashtag’s post volume, head to Instagram’s tag search tool on the Explore Page:
This is a great way to vet your hashtags, and can also provide valuable inspiration.
For example, you might discover a more niche hashtag that starts with the same keyword, but has a much healthier volume of posts.
Should You Use Hashtags on Instagram in the Caption or Comment Section?
Instagram has confirmed that hashtags are effective in both your post caption and the comments section — so it’s up to you where you want to share them.
It is worth considering timeliness though. If you’re manually posting hashtags in the comments section, you’ll want to do this as soon as your post is published.
This is a great way to keep your caption aesthetic clean, while still benefiting from all the added exposure perks of a good hashtag strategy.
Later’s First Comment tool lets you schedule a comment to go live at exactly the same time as your post — available on all paid plans.
How Hashtags Can Be Used to Increase Likes On Instagram
With the right Instagram hashtag strategy you won’t just reach more people — but the right people for your brand or business.
Read: people who are likely to engage with your content.
Using relevant hashtags will help your posts show up in more search results on the app, increasing the likelihood of likes and comments.
Take Sweaty Betty, a workout brand whose target market includes women with a passion for fitness.
The account uses the search-led hashtag, #GlobalRunningDay to generate likes and a branded hashtag, #iamasweatybetty to champion a sense of community and togetherness:
Boasting over 2.5K likes (and a pretty chatty comments section!), these niche hashtags are perfect for growing a community of like-minded runner aficionados and encouraging users to tap that heart.
Being intentional and using hashtags that your target audience is actively searching for will increase your exposure and like count.
It’s a win-win.
How to Save Time With Your Instagram Hashtag Strategy
Finding 20-30 hashtags for every post you share is extremely time-consuming — but there are ways to make the process more efficient.
One way is to curate lists of hashtags that align with your main content pillars, which you can quickly adjust and add to each post.
With Later’s Instagram Scheduler, you can create multiple “Saved Captions” that contain your curated lists of hashtags:
You can quickly add them to a post caption (and edit them) in two taps!
How to Build an Effective Instagram Hashtag Strategy With Analytics
The best way to build your hashtag strategy?
Having a solid foundation first.
Once you’ve found the hashtags you want to use, it’s important to start testing them and digging into your analytics.
Analyzing the performance of your hashtags is a great way to monitor the success of your experiments and will let you fine-tune your strategy over time.
With Later’s Hashtag Analytics tools, you can track key insights about your hashtags — including a breakdown of which are driving the most likes, comments, saves, and reach on your Instagram posts:
Hashtags are a powerful way to reach new audiences and grow your account, but it takes time and effort to see big results.
Whether you use 10 or 30, a consistent hashtag strategy is still one of the most effective routes for growth on Instagram in 2023.