How to Use Instagram Hashtags for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Wondering how to use hashtags on Instagram?

Trying to make sense of conflicting information?

Here’s the rundown on

  • How many hashtags to use on Instagram 2019
  • Using Instagram hashtags in comments or caption
  • Adding hashtags to Instagram after posting
  • The most popular Instagram hashtags
  • Banned Instagram hashtags 2019
  • And exactly how to post Instagram hashtags

Plus so much more, for #success on Instagram!

How many hashtags should I use on Instagram? 2019

You can use up to 30 hashtags on an Instagram post. But, many marketers say that looks spammy. Use 5 or 6.

Others say using 11 gets you the best engagement.

Well, no. The study they’re referring to found that posts with 11 or more hashtags get the best engagement.

I’m a fan of using all 30 hashtags. Do people find it spammy? My engagement rates say otherwise.

Instagram Hashtag study shows more tags mean more engagement!

Let’s break down this study:

  • 0 Hashtags – 18% interaction per 1k followers
  • 1 Hashtag – 29% interaction per 1k followers
  • 2 Hashtags – 41% interaction per 1k followers
  • 3 Hashtags – 39% interaction per 1k followers
  • 4 Hashtags – 31% interaction per 1k followers
  • 5 Hashtags – 43% interaction per 1k followers
  • 6 Hashtags – 33% interaction per 1k followers
  • 7 Hashtags – 30% interaction per 1k followers
  • 8 Hashtags – 39.5% interaction per 1k followers
  • 9 Hashtags – 49.5% interaction per 1k followers
  • 10 Hashtags – 22% interaction per 1k followers
  • 11 Hashtags – 79.5% interaction per 1k followers

Using 11 or more hashtags means 442% more engagement than using none and about double engagement over using 1 – 10.

So yes, use at least 11, and more if you want to grow your account.

Is there a maximum of hashtags on Instagram?

The maximum allowed Instagram hashtags is 30. I recommend you use them all – unless you’re happy with your follower number and engagement.

Want to grow? Use 30 hashtags!

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

What’s the hack to use 60 hashtags on Instagram?

There used to be a trick where you could first post 30 hashtags in a comment, then go back and edit the photo caption to add 30 more hashtags.

Instagram didn’t recognize the hashtags in the caption edit.

They caught on in 2018, though. So the maximum is 30 Instagram hashtags in 2020.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Should I post Instagram hashtags in comments or captions?

Instagram hashtags may be placed in the photo or video caption when you post it.

Or, hashtags may be added in a comment (or several comments) after posting.

There’s no difference to their functionality, so it’s your choice.

I prefer adding hashtags in comments, as these are quickly buried once you get a few user comments.

As of 2018, the caption is cut off after 2 short lines of text, so caption hashtags don’t show at first glance either.

However, the “More” tag will open the full caption.

If you’ve written an engaging caption with a call-to-action or question (please do!), people may get distracted by a raft of hashtags and forget to complete your desired action.

This is why I recommend Instagram hashtags in comments rather than captions.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

How to hide hashtags on Instagram

You can hide those 30 hashtags, so they can’t look spammy!

Make them invisible by preceding them with five dashes or periods, each one on a line by itself.

NO space after the period or it won’t work. If you post this in your first comment, IGers will just see […] after your name in the photostream.

(Tested 1/11/2019 – it still works. The hashtags are only invisible in the photo stream! If someone clicks to read comments, they will see the hashtags).

Create your hashtag text file as I show below, in your phone’s Notes app, because there’s no return key when posting a comment on Instagram.

NOTE: If you’re having problems with this trick, it’s almost always because you have space at the end of your line. It’s a bizarre and annoying quirk, but Instagram will take out the return if there’s a space at the end of the preceding line.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Can I add hashtags to someone else’s Instagram photo?

No. You can’t add working hashtags by commenting on any other account than the one you’re signed into.

IGers may comment with hashtags, but the other IGer’s post won’t appear in that hashtag feed.

You may see people leaving hashtag comments on others’ posts. Often, the commenter is suggesting that the original poster add that hashtag.

A little helpful advice, perhaps.

Or, they may not know. But generally, I see this between groups of IG friends who are helping each other get featured on Instagram hub accounts.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

What are the most popular hashtags on Instagram?

Here are the 10 best Instagram hashtags for likes:

  1. #love
  2. #instagood
  3. #photooftheday
  4. #fashion
  5. #beautiful
  6. #happy
  7. #cute
  8. #tbt
  9. #like4like
  10. #followme

Really want more? Here’s the rest of the 100 best hashtags for likes:

#picoftheday #follow #me #selfie #summer #art #instadaily #friends #repost#nature

#girl #fun #style #smile #food #instalike #likeforlike #family #travel #fitness

#igers #tagsforlikes #follow4follow #nofilter #life #beauty #amazing #instamood #instagram #photography

#vscocam #sun #photo #music #beach #followforfollow #bestoftheday #sky #ootd #sunset

#dog #vsco #l4l #makeup #f4f #foodporn #hair #pretty #swag #cat

#model #motivation #girls #baby #party #cool #lol #gym #design #instapic

#funny #healthy #night #tflers #yummy #flowers #lifestyle #hot #instafood #wedding

#fit #handmade #black #pink #일상 #blue #work #workout #blackandwhite #drawing

#inspiration #home #holiday #christmas #nyc #london #sea #instacool #goodmorning #iphoneonly

However – I suggest you get a little more creative with your hashtags. Read on…

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Should I use popular Instagram hashtags?

If you’re using 30 hashtags, okay, go ahead and make 1 or 2 of those popular ones.

This will get you some quick likes. However, most of those will be fake, bot likes.

Yes, automated “bot” activity is still a problem on Instagram in 2019.

Use popular tags, and you’ll likely also be the target of the annoying follow-unfollow activity.

This is where those rule-breaking IGers use automation to follow accounts they think might follow them back.

If you don’t follow back, and sometimes even if you do, they’ll unfollow you anyway.

Don’t take it personally, as it’s all automated. No one is making any judgment of your account.

Please don’t ever do automated follow-unfollow on Instagram. You risk your account being shadowbanned or even closed.

But back to those popular tags, they may work for likes in the first second after you post. Your post will be quickly buried in the hashtag feed.

In addition, popular hashtags are often used by spammers and quickly get banned!

Using banned hashtags may put you in league with spammers and arouse Instagram’s suspicions about your account.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Banned Instagram hashtags 2019

So now you want to know: which hashtags are banned by Instagram?

Unfortunately, this is an ever-moving target. According to

… the hashtag #happythanksgiving was completely overrun with spam, so they banned it. From here on out, if you use the hashtag #happythanksgiving, not only will your content most likely not show up for that hashtag, you might also be flagged for spam. The repetitive use of banned hashtags, leading to multiple flags to your account, could even result in shadow banning or account removal.

Of course, in order to avoid these forbidden hashtags, you have to know which tags are banned. How is anyone supposed to know that #happythanksgiving is considered “spam”?

There are 3 ways to avoid using banned hashtags:

  1. Don’t use any of the most popular Instagram hashtags.
  2. Research any hashtag before using it.
  3. Use a Hashtag Finder. NO banned hashtags are ever included.

If you reach an end where a message says the posts are “currently hidden,” it’s a banned hashtag.

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

What are the best Instagram hashtags?

I don’t recommend popular tags, for the reasons stated above.

Here’s what I do recommend:

Use more hashtags that are relevant to your niche.

Using specific and relevant hashtags helps you connect with people who are looking for exactly what you’re posting.

You can find relevant tags by searching your keywords on Instagram, or using a site like

Watch what others in your niche are using.

See what your peers and influencers are posting on their photos.

Check out the related tags Instagram suggests when you tap a tag that’s relevant to your content. Try them if they seem useful!

Be sure your hashtags are active.

Check the hashtag feed to see that the tags you’re using are currently being used by others.

Hint: If you scroll down 20 rows and are still finding content posted in the last few seconds, that tag is too active!

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Stop using the most popular hashtags like pretty, beautiful, love and similar ones.

Your post will be buried in that feed within milliseconds. In researching this, I also discovered a lot of posts in those tags that I don’t even want to be seen with (some I even felt obligated to report).

Okay, sprinkle in a few popular hashtags when relevant to your post.

Not necessarily the ones with 100M’s of posts, but one or two over 1M might give you some quick likes.

Note: Your content really needs to be awesome to stand out in a lightning-fast moving tag feed!

Create a custom tag for your brand or campaign.

Check that these tags aren’t already being used, particularly in a way you wouldn’t approve of!

Prompt fans and followers to use your tag, and you’ll soon learn just who your superfans are. Support, encourage, and regram them!

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Can I add hashtags to Instagram after posting?

Once upon a time, using hashtags was easy:

  • You posted a bunch with your photo.
  • You came back later, deleted those tags, and added a bunch more.
  • Magically, your post was bumped to the top of those hashtag feeds, regardless of how long it had been since the original post.
  • Your engagement spiked once again.

But Instagram changed all that for us in March 2015.

No matter when you add a hashtag to your photo or video, it will appear in that hashtag feed with other photos and videos posted at its original posting time.

Or as Instagram says:

Keep in mind that if you add a hashtag to a photo after it was posted, the photo will still appear on the hashtag page according to the time it was originally posted, not the time the hashtag was added.

The short answer is yes, you can add hashtags to your own posts after posting.

Popular hashtags must be added immediately, or your post will never surface in those feeds.

If you like, you can delete those later and add niche hashtags in their place.

Personally, I think your time is better spent on creating new Instagram posts.

Why are my Instagram hashtags not working?

You may be the victim of a shadowban.

A shadowban hides your Instagram posts from users who don’t follow you, which can be detrimental to growing your account and getting more followers.

If you get shadowbanned on Instagram, only you and your current followers will see your post when they search for the hashtags you used. If someone who doesn’t follow your account searches for one of those hashtags, they won’t see your post!

This defeats the purpose of using strategic hashtags to grow your Instagram community.

I’ve even had readers say they can’t find their own posts in the hashtag feeds! This could also be due to shadowban. Or, as IG calls it, “issues with a hashtag search.”

Instagram doesn’t admit there is such a thing, by the way, so don’t expect to get help from them.

You can use the “Report a Problem” feature in your account settings under “Support.” I no longer get a reply when I do this, but it can’t hurt.

I would suggest saying “my post isn’t showing in the hashtag feeds” and not use the word “shadowban.”

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

How can I avoid being shadowbanned?

Instagram shadowbanning is sometimes a result of spammy behavior.

However, some normal behavior is also getting users shadowbanned:

  • Repeated use of the same hashtag group within 24 hours.
  • Using “broken” or banned hashtags.

Sometimes a normal, everyday hashtag can be banned.

Popular tags are often used on content that violates IG community guidelines. Then Instagram might block the hashtag outright, meaning you can’t even search for it on IG, or they’ll limit the posts shown in that hashtag feed.

With the shadowban, it appears that even if you use a single banned hashtag in your post, Instagram will prevent your post from appearing on any of the hashtags you used!

So, you could search each hashtag feed individually for evidence that a tag is broken or banned. Don’t use those!

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

How to post Instagram hashtags for best results:

If you insist on using uber-popular hashtags, you MUST post them in your post caption.

If you wait for even a second to post them in a comment, they’re pretty much worthless, as your post will be buried in that hashtag feed the instant you add it.

If you post hashtags in several comments, post the more popular ones first. 

Post hashtag comments in the order of how fast the hashtag feeds move!

Niche hashtags CAN still be added at a later date!

DON’T bother adding hashtags where the original date of your post would have it buried deeply in the feed – BUT there are some cool super-niche hashtags that have only several hundred to a few thousand posts in them. Many of these even have avid fans!

For easiest hashtagging, keep groups of 30 hashtags in your phone’s Notes app.

Create and save a set of 30 tags for each type of post you make (or less than 30 if you insist ? ).

Copy your hashtag group before you make your IG post!

Then you have them ready on your clipboard to add in a comment immediately. No fumbling, no wasting valuable seconds. Or, set up a text shortcut!

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Conclusion: Do This for Instagram hashtag success!

Make your Instagramming easy!

Use 11 to 30 hashtags to grow your account.

Hide your hashtags in a comment with . and return 5 times.

Use more hashtags relevant to your niche.

  • What are your keywords?
  • What are peers/competitors/influencers using?
  • What does Instagram suggest as related?

Use only a few popular hashtags.

  • Only use tags relevant to your content.
  • Post in the description – don’t wait for the comment.
  • Your content must rock to stand out in popular tag feeds.

Choose hashtags that are actively used (but not too active!).

How to Use Hashtags on Instagram for Explosive Growth: 2020 Update

Create a custom tag for your brand or campaign.

  • Be sure to check first to see if it’s already being used.
  • Promote your tag’s use by followers.
  • Engage/shout out your fans who use it!

Keep hashtag groups in your phone’s Notes app.

  • One group for each type of content you post.
  • Copy them to your clipboard before you post content.
  • Follow up immediately with hashtags in a comment.

Bonus tip: Your hashtags will magically work much better if you’re posting awesome visuals! People are scanning those hashtag feeds, and you need to stand out.

If you’re curious about how to improve your audience retention, consider how Instagram stories work and start posting stories daily! Feel free to learn more about how we can help manage your social media accounts and ask us for help!

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