How many hashtags should you use on Instagram?

How many hashtags should you use on Instagram? Answer: a lot. But the number changes. Keep up to date with the trends by participating.

Hashtags. I know. I have a bad reputation for my love-hate relationship with hashtag use.

So many people get it wrong (wrong being the wrong word because there are no rights or wrongs, right?).

Maybe ineffective use is a better way to describe many people’s Instagram accounts.

I know a lot of Facebookers (who cross-post their Instagram photos) just don’t realize that when they post a hashtag on a private (friends-only) post, they’re defeating the purpose of the hashtag (to be found in search). But I surrender.


I promise.

No, I’m serious this time.

My personal strategy on Instagram is to post more landscapes, arty shots, and selfies. People bore easily of selfies on Facebook. But on Instagram, it’s almost expected.

Bears in Grants Pass, Oregon

On my first visit to Grants Pass, Oregon, I noticed bear sculptures all around town. So of course, I decided to take photos, put them on Instagram, and use the hashtag #BearsOfGrantsPass.

Two things:

1. I was surprised I was the only one using this hashtag. These bears aren’t new.

2. I realized you can now click on a hashtag from your desktop.

Boom. This is when I realized the power of hashtags on Instagram has left the boundaries of mobile.


Try it on this post. Click on one of the hashtags.

View this post on Instagram

Bear #ProHDRx #BearsOfGrantsPass #Oregon

A post shared by Bridget Willard (@bridgetmwillard) on

Translating to Business

Will this change how much you use Instagram?

Will this change what hashtags you use?

When I was working for Riggins, I started an experiment.  I used 13 hashtags and starting doing a weekly project. We got a lot of traction and results.

We had a project in Irvine and since Irvine won’t allow signs during construction, I thought a geo-location series of photos on Instagram with a boat-load of hashtags would be a fun substitute.

How many hashtags should you use on Instagram?

How many hashtags should your business use on Instagram? The answer varies. Culture evolves. Culture on social media evolves quickly. Personal accounts can have long, drawn-out hashtags that involve sarcasm. Instagram should be more generic (think SEO keywords).

“Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags.” Buffer 2014

Which Hashtags Should You Use?

With all things in Marketing, you should test and see what works for you. Remember that hashtags on Instagram, just like on Twitter, are used for filtering (search) and discovery. If you hashtag your name and no one knows who you are, this will be only effective for internal reasons.

When it comes to hashtags, think keywords. When I say that don’t just stuff your post with the same 12 hashtags. Use hashtags that reinforce the copy in the photo’s caption/description. Otherwise, you’re at risk for shadow banning.

“Instagram is inundated with millions of hashtags. But not all hashtags will help you in increasing engagement with your manifold photos on Instagram. The popularity of hashtag is inversely proportional to your photo’s chances of getting discovered.” Gurpreet Singh [emphasis added]

Do your own research. Experiment yourself. Buy a subscription to Union Metrics or use their free Instagram check tool.

Trust your gut. What do you click on?

Instagram for Business

Here’s an interview video with Amy Dononhue from March of 2015. (This post was written originally posted June 25, 2015).




  1. Adam Fout on June 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    So many hashtags, so little time. Thanks for the article!

  2. Carol Stephen on June 26, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you, thank you for this wonderful post! And for including all my crazy hashtags and post. #HashtagTheCrapsOutOfInstagram

    • Bridget Willard on June 26, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      That is one of my favorites of your photos.

      You and Amy have taught me a lot about Instagram.

      • Carol Stephen on June 26, 2015 at 7:08 pm

        Hashtags can be a lot of fun! And it’s how people find you on Instagram. 😀

        • Bridget Willard on June 26, 2015 at 7:08 pm

          I love your #peanutbutterandjelly one.

          • Carol Stephen on July 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm

            Oh, thanks! The #PeanutButterJelly is one of my faves. So is #MeowMix! I’ve also learned some ones not to use. Hahaha!

  3. Sandy Connolly on June 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Great post Bridget!! #hashtagtheheckoutofit

  4. Tess Wittler on July 4, 2015 at 4:18 am

    Awesome post, Bridget! Love the title!

  5. Sandy at Vermont Timber Works on July 8, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    This is good to know! IF you can’t embrace the #hashtag – instagram may not be a good invest of time for your business.

  6. […] Bridget Willard on hastagging the crap out of Instagram. […]

  7. Marc on June 16, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I hashtag randomly. Because of lots of things, my Instagram account has to remain private. As a result, hashtagging has no real purpose. I never going to have people follow me who I do not personally know.

    I realize you wrote this to specifically apply to business cases, but thought I would point out the other side of your point. 🙂

    • Bridget Willard on June 16, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Oh for sure. If you’re using Instagram privately, a use of Hashtags would be for your own filing system. For example, to keep track of vacation photos or a child’s name.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. […] Bridget Willard on hastagging the crap out of Instagram. […]

  9. Katherine on September 17, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I love to load my posts with hashtags! It’s also good to post them in the comments. You got to get as much engagement going within the first hour to break the algorithm!

  10. Think Before You Hashtag - Bridget Willard on January 12, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    […] How many hashtags should you use on Instagram? […]

  11. […] is pretty simple and direct. It’s great to use a bunch of hashtags. You can’t even use a link. The big problem where I see people going wrong is taking […]

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