The ultimate guide to killing it with Instagram hashtags in 2021

Published by Stefan Nordström on

How to kill it with Instagram hashtags

What can do you do to optimize your Instagram hashtags for maximum reach? We’ll have a look at that in this blog post. Fact is, there is a lot of tricks you can use. And the tricks can increase your reach, while also simplifying your work process.

I know Instagram hashtags can feel corny and annoying, but they are a truly important success factor you can’t be without. I’m a digital content expert and musician that has used Instagram to promote myself for some time. At the time of this blog post I have around 3 300 followers on Instagram. Anyway, let’s start exploring my best tips for killing it with Instagram hashtags in 2021.

By Stefan Nordström

Stefan Nordström - frilansande konsult inom digital marknadsföring som copywriting och SEO

  • Freelancing digital marketing consultant
  • 8 years of in-house and freelance experience
  • Expertise: SEO, copywriting, newsletters, conversion optimization, digital strategy
  • LinkedIn | Mail | Instagram

What is a hashtag?

A hashtags is a way of categorizing and discovering content on social media platforms, like Instagram. It can contain letters, numbers and emojis. Hashtags are clickable. When you click one on Instagram you can see all the posts that has the tag, in order of popularity and time.

Are Instagram hashtags actually worth the effort?

Do you really need hashtags on Instagram? Or can you succeed on the platform without them? Well, of course you can succeed anyway, but hashtags certainly makes it easier. Especially if you’re using hashatags in a strategic way. You will simply be more visible, and if you work with hashtags in the right way you will be visible for all the right users.

How many Instagram hashtags can you use in one post?

30 is the maximum amount of Instagram hashtags. But do you always need to use that many? Not really. I would say that balance is the best choice. Feel free to use a lot of them, but remember to be relevant. My posts usually wind up having in between 10 and 15 hashtags. Sometimes it’s also good to tag other accounts (@ instead of #), for example when you’re talking about someone in your post.

Where is the best place to put the hashtags?

A bunch of hashtags doesn’t look great in a text, so where are you actually supposed to place them? Well, there are many different ways to do it. Some put them as a comment on their post. I usually make a gap followed by three dotted emojis and another gap to make some space. It makes it look good while still having the hashtags in the post. See an example of how it looks below.

one way to place your Instagram hashtags in your posts

Find your associations to find your hashtags

When you’re promoting a product or a brand, or if you’re looking to increase your amount of followers, there are usually a lot of possible associations. But how do you find the right ones? Some good ways to find hashtags are:

  • Brands
  • Professional titles
  • Categories (like music genres etc.)
  • Geography, places and events (don’t forget geotagging)
  • Activities
  • Seasons and holidays
  • Daily hashtags, like #throwbacktuesday/#tbt
  • Feelings (which do you want to be associated with?)

What are the most popular Instagram hashtags?

When you start writing hashtags on Instagram you can see the most popular ones. It’s an easy way to find relevant ones that you can use. Try including the most popular ones that are relevant, but don’t forget about dominating the ones with lower competition as well. It’s also possible to get a hashtag of your own going, especially if you have a campaign hashtag.

The most popular Instagram hashtags (2020)

But which hashtags are actually the most popular ones? Like most digital things, there is a whole lot of data available on it!

According to Hootsuite, these are the most popular Instagram hashtags of 2020:

  • #love (1,824 billion posts)
  • #instagood (1,143 billion posts)
  • #fashion (807,1 million posts)
  • #photooftheday (792,4 million posts)
  • #beautiful (657,4 million posts)
  • #art (643,6 million posts)
  • #happy (576,9 million posts)
  • #photography (575,9 million posts)
  • #picoftheday (569,4 million posts)
  • #cute (564,9 million posts)

Create a hashtag library

When you’ve found a fitting collection of hashtags, it’s time to put them in a list. It’s usually a good idea to divide them into categories. If you want to make it even easier you can have them somewhere where it’s easy to copy-paste them from. I usually have them ready in my phone’s notepad app so I can put them in my posts directly.

Some hashtags are almost in everything I post about music, while others are related to freelancing, traveling and digital marketing. Different posts require different hashtags, but over time you’ll be using many of them over and over again. That’s why it’s so useful to have them categorized and ready.

Vary your Instagram hashtags

Now you know what to do in terms of finding and organizing your Instagram hashtags. But variation is also a great thing to have in mind! In my mind, being visible in a relevant way in as many hashtags as possible is the way to go. The goal is domination, and then it’s good to spread your tagging as much as possible.

This is especially important if you’re posting the same thing on different accounts. Then you have a superb opportunity to have even more hashtags. Posting it twice at two different times with two different hashtags setups is a perfect way to increase visibility.

Most importantly: work strategically and long-term using a content plan

Now you know more about Instagram hashtags. But they’re only a small part of achieving digital marketing success. Social media is truly a marathon-run, and you need to have the long-term in mind at all times. That’s why you need to work strategically.

One step is to create KPI:s that are as aligned with your overall business goals as possible. The other, more practical, step is to have a content plan in place so you know what you’re posting on different digital platforms in the near future. This makes it so much easier, as you can avoid my most dreaded digital marketing question; “what do we post today?”. You can also take advantage of having posts for holidays and evergreen content ideas ready. Everything just becomes so much easier!

Do you need help with digital content?

Instagram hashtags is one of the many things I’m working with, but that’s just a small part of digital content. I am a freelance digital consultant that has helped many companies with copywriting, SEO, Swedish translations, newsletters, social media and much more. Do you need my help with something? Please connect with me on LinkedIn or e-mail nordstromstefan86@gmail.com and we can have a look at it!

Other digital content articles from this blog:

What is a content manager and what does one do? ->

Digital detox – a break from social media ->

Content inspiration – 10 ways to find inspiration for new content ->

What is an SEO copywriter and where can you find one? ->


Stefan Nordström

Digital marketing freelancer and consultant originally from Stockholm, Sweden.

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