The Truth About Instagram Hashtags

Do hashtags on Instagram give you a brain freeze? Well, let me unfreeze it for you.

First, let’s understand what hashtags really are… Hashtags are words or phrases with the ‘#’ symbol at the front and when you use a hashtag, the word or phrase becomes clickable. This means, the content that you use the hashtag on, becomes part of that hashtag hub. For example, if I create the hashtag #socialique, and you start using this hashtag on your content, all that content becomes visible under the hashtag created.

This serves two purposes. First, it helps you connect with other accounts that have used a similar hashtag. The second purpose is it helps you get found on Instagram. For example, I use the hashtag #instagramtip and if someone was looking for that hashtag they can find my account.

Hashtags do not work as well as they did last year.

Not many people will tell you that, but it’s true.

When you now search a hashtag there are two pages, the first one being ‘top posts’ and the second one being ‘recent posts’. The top posts generally have images from people with larger followings and these will stay in the same spot for a while. The recent posts will continuously update every few seconds.

Until last year, you could do a few things that would make your photo end up in the top post category. But then, Instagram changed the algorithm and what has changed is that if you search a hashtag, and I search the same one – we would see different things, because Instagram has curated this based on the accounts that you follow. So now you have a lot less control on whether your post will make it to the ‘top posts’ or not. That is why hashtags don’t work as well as they did last year.

This is not to say stop using hashtags. You should absolutely be using them. Just don’t expect them to work as well as they did back in 2017/16/15.

That being said I am going to teach you how to look for hashtags for the content that you would be sharing and what are the things you should look for in a hashtag when you come up with your categories.

How many Hashtags should I use??

  • You can use up to 30 hashtags and I recommend using all 30

Where do I put them??

  • Some people say to put them in the caption, some say in the comment section.
  • Both aren’t wrong – you can put them in either section. I like to put mine in the first comment and that’s because I do not want the attention to be taken away from the caption.
  • If you are going to put them in the first comment, you need to do it right away so it gives your post a chance to be seen quickly.

How do I search for hashtags that I need??

Well, before we dive in, make sure you have your phone, and a word/google doc or a pen and paper.

Open your Instagram and go the magnifying glass, then to the search bar and select ‘tags’

When searching for a tag we are going to focus on 4 things.

Firstly, Does it describe my business, the purpose of my account or my ideal audience?

The second thing you need to ask is, is this something my ideal audience would search for?

The third question is, does it have less than 500,000 posts associated with it?

And the final question is, does the content that is already there on this hashtag – does it resonate with your brand?

When searching your hashtags the minimum number of posts it should have is no less than around 1,000 – 1,500. So choose a hashtag that you think will resonate with your content, for example, if you are a health coach and you help people meal prep, then you might type in #mealprepping. Scroll through the similar hashtags and find one that has between 1500 – 500K posts and once selected…

Make sure you are asking yourself those key questions.

Does it describe my business? Is this something my ideal audience would search for? Does the content that’s here align with my brand?

You can also search for related hashtags which will appear in bold at the top of the page.

The reason you should choose a hashtag with less than 500K posts is because your content is then more likely to stay seen. If you are using a hashtag that has over 1M posts, it will be a very fast-moving hashtag and your content is likely to get buried as soon as it’s posted.


Make sure you store your hashtags somewhere. Some Instagram planners will allow you to store hashtags, but I just use the notes app on my phone so it’s easy to copy/paste when needed.

It is a good idea to create categories for your hashtags based on the content that you generally post.

Make sure you are avoiding spammy hashtags by checking the content and quality of what shows up from that hashtag.

Don’t forget about Instagram stories!

Make sure you are also adding hashtags on your Instagram stories as it will definitely increase your views. You can add up to 11 hashtags on a story.


Another hot tip is to make sure you are not using the same hashtags on every single post. It is considered as spammy and your content may not be found. That’s why it is easy to have categories and rotate the hashtags around.

It is important to do this exercise every few months and find new hashtags to keep bringing in fresh eyes and followers.