The ultimate guide to Instagram hashtags for 2023
Initially thought to be an early trend, Instagram hashtags are now here to stay. Not only have they become a powerful marketing and branding tool — operating like a funnel for your target audiences and boosting your chances of being featured on the explore page — Instagram hashtags also showcase what users are actively searching for, and what kind of content they want to engage with regularly. Whether you’re a print designer specializing in #risograph or promoting your Seattle-based café with #SEAbrew, your hashtags help others identify your Instagram account, who you are, and what your brand is all about.
Once you’re interested in a particular topic, you can follow a hashtag — like #InstagramTipsandTricks. If you use the right hashtags for your Instagram posts, you’ll show up in your future customers’ Instagram feeds more often and alongside other users who are interested in similar content.
What is an Instagram hashtag?
Structurally, a hashtag is any word or phrase immediately preceded by a hashtag symbol (#), also known as the number sign or the pound sign. This symbol tells the app to hyperlink the following word or phrase. That hyperlink is what makes you and your brand discoverable on Instagram. To create a hashtag, make sure there isn’t any space between the symbol and the words you are using. Remember that you can’t use additional symbols or special characters in your hashtags, either. You can, however, use numbers. Here are some examples of all these tips using the phrase “Beach Book Club”:
- Yes: #BeachBookClub
- No: # Beach Book Club
- No: # BeachBookClub
- No: #Beach Book Club
- No: #BeachBookClub!
The first example is a functioning hashtag because there are no spaces between the words or the symbol and there are no special characters or additional symbols. Once you have the structure down, you’ll be ready to start learning how to use hashtags as part of your content marketing strategy. Hashtags also work better if you add them as you post, instead of going back later to add them. Keep things timely for maximum traction.
Hashtags are your Instagram marketing funnel. They enable users to find you amongst the almost 2 billion other brands, businesses, and influencers on Instagram. When you add the right hashtags that combine the message of your brand with the interests you share with your customers, you are helping potential new customers to cut through the noise and connect to your specific online community.
Free Instagram templates to use in 2023
How to include hashtags in your Instagram content
Once you’ve mastered writing Instagram hashtags, it’s time to utilize them in your Instagram content, including feed posts, stories, reels, and IGTV. There are several ways to add these bite-sized marketing tools to your content.
The same strategies generally work across the board for standard Instagram posts. Some of the most common hashtag strategies are:
- Weave hashtags naturally into the body of the Instagram caption.
- If using hashtags in your caption, make sure the tagged words and phrases work organically with the flow of your message and avoid multi-word hashtags.
- Bury hashtags at the bottom of the caption, completely separated from the main caption by using white space.
With this tactic, be sure to use a symbol to define the line break below your main caption. This is crucial because returns and spaces don’t always register in the IG app and can end up jumbled together at the top of the post if not properly spaced.
- Write hashtags into the first comment of the post.
With this tactic, it may be easier to write out your Instagram hashtags and image descriptions in Notes (or another text-based app) before you post, so that you can copy and paste that text immediately into the first comment of your own post.
Ultimately, there’s no wrong way to hashtag and it’s up to you to choose what works best for your brand presentation. That being said, a post made by Instagram’s @creators account in September 2021 confirmed that the caption is the ideal place for maximum reach, even though tags in comments still get seen. Use the same strategy outlined above to add hashtags to your Instagram reels and IGTV as well.
How to add hashtags on Instagram Stories
Did you know you can add up to 10 different hashtags and one clickable hashtag sticker to each of your Instagram Stories? However, just because you can put 10 hashtags doesn’t mean you should. Think about what number of hashtags works best with your brand. If you want the power of multiple hashtags while maintaining an uncluttered story aesthetic and avoiding being spammy, try these three tricks:
- Minimize your hashtags after you write and drag them down to the bottom of the screen. They’ll be hidden below the frame — just be sure not to accidentally toss them in the trash can!
- Minimize your hashtags then cover them with a sticker. Animated stickers will make your story stand out while eliminating tag clutter.
- Make your hashtags invisible using the eyedropper tool by color-matching the hashtag text to a solid color background.
Try these tricks with free Instagram story templates
What are the best Instagram hashtags?
The most popular hashtags on Instagram are easy to read and conceptually simple. If you’re a small business owner or trying to get your footing in social media marketing, relying solely on the most common and trending Instagram hashtags might mean you get lost in the crowd. When you look up a hashtag on Instagram, you can see its range of popularity. For example, #love has been tagged in over 2.1 billion posts. That’s a lot of competition just to get one of your posts viewed. When using the most popular hashtags, be sure to weave in niche hashtags that help people find you multiple ways. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, this list of hashtags is made up of the most popular Instagram hashtags:
Some other popular hashtags include:
How to find hashtags to use for your brand
Now that you know everything about the most popular hashtags, here are tips on finding the hashtags that will do the work for you and help draw in a new audience.
The key is to aim for Instagram hashtags that have low competition and high engagement. That means simply picking the most popular and trending hashtags won’t always work. Instagram expert and online business mentor Alex Tooby recommends using hashtags with 5,000 — 500,000 associated posts to get maximum engagement without getting immediately buried by other newer content.
If you have an Instagram business account (which is free to set up and is vital to optimizing your SEO strategy), you can use Instagram Insights to track your audience’s engagement with the hashtags you are using. These metrics are vital to understanding the Instagram algorithm and how best to use Instagram hashtags for your specific audience. Try experimenting with varying degrees of specificity to see exactly how involved your audience is trying to be.
You may also consider investing in an Instagram hashtag generator like Later.com. Analytics tools like hashtag generators analyze the most relevant hashtags for each of your posts and make suggestions for you, saving you time and sharpening your focus. Why waste time trying to find trending and related hashtags when that time would be better spent elsewhere?
Tips for creating branded hashtags
Since over two-thirds of users say they come to Instagram to interact with creators, and 70% of people say they come to Instagram specifically to shop, creating a branded hashtag helps people find your brand and stay connected with your products. Customers use branded hashtags to include your brand in a conversation, share your brand with other people, and engage with your company’s aesthetic. Branded hashtags are also a way for you to show love to your customers by sharing their user-generated content in kind. Sharing the love boosts engagement. Create your own new hashtags specific to your brand. To expand your community reach, try these branded hashtag tips:
- Incorporate your company name into your branded hashtag. Smaller businesses especially benefit from people associating their hashtag with their brand.
- Make your hashtag easy to type. People are less likely to type out long phrases or clunky language. Create your own simple yet specific hashtags.
- If your brand name is a common word and you need to stand out more, consider creating a pun out of your brand name or using your brand’s tagline — but only if the tagline is already short or concise.
When you’re building branded hashtags and your community starts to grow, it’s helpful to have a community-based hashtag that people can connect with. Check out these real-world examples:
Inclusive hiking community Unlikely Hikers asserts its mission with their collective hashtag #unlikelyhikers. Their goal is to showcase not only nature’s diversity but also body diversity, with a heavy focus on body liberation and anti-racism in outdoor culture.
Sports-centric video camera company GoPro uses the hashtag #GoPro as their branded hashtag and encourages user-generated content by reposting creations from their customers, as well as with community-minded tags like #GoProAthlete and #GoProFamily.
Tips for creating campaign hashtags
Launching a new product, kicking off a campaign, or generating buzz in a new direction? A catchy campaign hashtag helps drive awareness and even measure impact for your brand. A campaign hashtag is different than your branded hashtag because they are tied to a moment in time, specific creative work, or a vertical in your brand. They direct customers to particular products and can create excitement and relevance around your brand. Try out these tips for a successful campaign hashtag:
- If your goal is to encourage user-generated content around your hashtag, consider framing it as a verb or call-to-action, or using the word challenge. This can compel people to create relevant posts or stories that are tagged with your campaign hashtag.
- Experiment to see what works with your audience. Try shifting the length, tone, or grammar of each campaign hashtag — while keeping true to your brand voice — to test audience responsivity.
- Repost quality user generated content that was created for your campaign hashtag. Share it in your IG Stories or feed and tag the creator. This community feel can add to your buzz as well as develop a positive creation loop between you and your customers.
- Need to cleverly hide a hashtag so it doesn’t take over your visuals or core message? In a caption, you can tuck tags into your first comment to save room. For stories, try pinching the tag text to make it smaller, and cover it with a GIF or sticker.
Want to see successful campaign hashtags in action? Scope how these companies have built online buzz around specific products in their brand.
American casual sportswear brand Calvin Klein brings back their classic ad campaign #MyCalvins every year with a new celebrity or influencer to rep the brand. The rehash began in 2014 with Justin Bieber and Lara Stone donning classic Calvin underwear styles and has continued each year with big names like Billie Eilish and Kendall Jenner promoting the campaign and encouraging Instagram users to engage with the tag and share their own at-home #MyCalvins moments.
Major make-up company L’Oréal Paris nailed their campaign hashtag with #WorthSaying, a dual hashtag created in 2016 with the promotional help of Blake Lively and Jennifer Lopez intended to empower womanhood. The tag not only brought in customers to share what is important to them, but also donated $0.25 from the company for every mention.
Are you ready to expand your brand into 2023 with your new Instagram hashtag strategy? As you create content and post to Instagram, remember to tag #AdobeExpress for the chance to be featured on our social channels.
This post was updated on January 6, 2023.