The humble hashtag is an integral part of Instagram, the photo-sharing social network. 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 on using the right hashtags.
To an Instagram newbie, the a 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.
Start By Knowing the Hottest Tags
Before you figure out a strategy, you first need to understand which hashtags are the most popular on Instagram. Websta, the online Instagram viewer, has a list of the top 100 hashtags ever used. You can see how many millions of photos are tagged similarly. Even remembering 20 out of these might give you a headstart.
One of our favorite less-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 100th most popular tag has about 60 million posts, so if you find a number close to that, you’re golden!
Find 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 get a cheat sheet to help you out.
Head to Tagstagram, which collects the best hashtags for different topics like animals, music, cars, food, people, and more. Each has a sub-section like cats, dogs, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and so on. Copy-paste the list of 30 tags included there into your Instagram post and you’re good to go!
Tagstagram also has apps for both Android and iOS, and the website is mobile-friendly in case you don’t want to install apps.
Download: Tagstagram for Android (Free)
Download: Tagstagram for iOS (Free)
And remember how we said you should notice the tags others use? Well, keep a note of these in a companion digital note-taking app, like the cross-platform Simplenote apps. It’s basically making something like Tagstagram, customized for yourself.
Each Day Has Its Own Tags
One of the worst-kept secrets of Instagram’s hashtag world is that each day of the week has its own popular hashtag—sometimes, multiple ones for each day. Now you’ve probably heard of #ThrowbackThursday, where you post photos from years ago. Using the right hashtag for other days of the week can similarly give you a boost.
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- Use #monday, #mondays, and #manicmonday as regular tags for the day.
- Use #mondaymotivation for an inspirational pic to kickstart the week.
- Use #mondayblues or #mondaymorning to complain about getting back to the grind.
- Use #mondayfunday for photos that show you can have a good time after the weekend.
- Use #mancrushmonday for photos of hunks you like.
- Use #musicmonday to share your favorite tunes on Instagram or plug a local band playing this week.
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- Use #tuesday and #tuesdays as regular tags for the day.
- Use #transformationtuesday to showcase your struggle towards your personal goal. This is a great time to make before-after collages with Instagram’s Layout app.
- Use #tongueouttuesday to capture a photo of your pooch with their tongue hanging out.
- Use #traveltuesday to share a photo of your current or recent trip.
- Use #wednesday, #wednesdays, and #humpday as regular tags for the day.
- Use #wellnesswednesday to talk about health and fitness.
- Use #winewednesday if you need a glass to get over the hump day and last the week.
- Use #wednesdaywisdom to share an inspirational quote or story.
- Use #womencrushwednesday for photos of babes you like.
- Use #thursday and #thursdays as regular tags for the day.
- Use #throwbackthursday and #tbt to share an old photo, reliving a fond memory.
- Use #thursdate for a middle-of-the-week date night.
- Use #thirstythursday if you’re grabbing a drink.
- Use #thankfulthursday to express your gratitude towards someone or something this week.
- Use #friday, #fridays, and #tgif as regular tags for the day.
- Use #flashbackfriday or #fbf if you missed Throwback Thursday, or if you want to post another cherished memory.
- Use #fridaynight to show yourself having a good time, along with #fridaynights and #fridayvibes.
- Use #fridaynightlights and #fridaynightfootball if you’re posting a picture from a high school football game.
- Note: Friday has the largest number of popular hashtags, so you might just find something for yourself through autocomplete. Try out a few combinations!
- Use #saturday and #saturdays as regular tags for the day.
- Use #saturdaymornings to show how you are spending the first lazy morning of the weekend.
- Use #caturday to post your feline friend’s favorite photos. Hey, the Internet can’t get enough of cats!
- Use #saturdaynight to tell the world how you’re chilling out.
- Use #sunday, #sundays, and #sundayfunday as regular tags for the day.
- Use #selfiesunday and #sundayselfie to train the camera lens on to yourself and capture that perfect selfie.
- Use #sundaybrunch if you’re heading out for a grand, relaxing meal at the start of the day.
Learn to Use the Most Relevant Five Tags Only
Too much of anything can spoil it for you and others. It’s 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 a trick we’ve talked about before. 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 Use 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’ll get a hang of it. Remember, unusual 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 be 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.
What’s Your Favorite Hashtag Trend?
So, now that you know how to go about hashtagging like a pro on Instagram, let’s talk about the tags that you have found most success with, and the ones you enjoy browsing the most. I’m a sucker for a good dog picture, so #puppylove is an easy one for me—and it’s also the hashtag that has got me new followers. What about you?