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.

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).



22 responses to “How many hashtags should you use on Instagram?”

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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!