Instagram Hashtags in 2020: Take or toss?

It’s pretty clear that using hashtags on Instagram has changed in the last few years. That depends especially on the launch of the algorithm more than two years ago. Posts are no longer displayed in chronological order but by relevance. Moreover some accounts are already so popular that they no longer use hashtags because they have enough range. Therefore the question arises whether take or toss hashtags on Instagram?

Our answer to that question is „take“!

Although much has changed in the use of Instagram hashtags, they are still a relevant tool for generating more user engagement. We show you some useful advices in using hashtags efficiently and what you have to consider. 


1. Do Your Own Hashtag Research

Before you use any hashtag, make sure that it is relevant to your content. If they don‘t match your posts, users may be confused. Thus, you should create your own hashtag strategy.

Let’s start with the basics: Using very popular hashtags e.g. #tbt (+500M posts) or #ootd (+300M posts) doesn’t really make sense. Why? Your post will get lost among so many others within seconds. In addition, posts linked to these hashtags are often commented by "spambots" with irrelevant content and advertising. This leads users stop looking at other posts because there is too much “trash” in between.


The option "recent" makes it easier to estimate how relevant hashtags are at the moment. Furthermore, above the categories „top“ and „recent“ posts you can find the category „related“ hashtags. These posts are similar to that one you are searching for. But the great advantage is that they might be more niche and you have less content to compete with.

Let’s give you an example how a hyped hashtag becomes a more niche hashtag:
If you want to use a hashtag from the niche "fashion" but the #fashion (+800M) is way too big then just add a number like #fashion2020 (+200K) and there will be much less posts.



In addition to brainstorming which hashtags might fit your content, don’t forget to get inspired by others:

  • First find out which ones are already used by your target group
  • Second see what your competitors are doing
  • And last but not least find out which influencer fits in to your niche and be inspired by him or her



If you have less time there are some relevant tools which can help you in your research. Here are a few suggestions for small helpers:



But attention!

The search engine often spits out very popular hashtags that you cannot use. So rather use them as a starting point for research or an inspiration to create your own hashtag.

    2. Use Branded Hashtags

    Depending on your content, it can be a good idea to create your own hashtag in a specific niche. You can differentiate between 3 types of hashtags:

    • Community hashtags, e.g. you have a DIY account and want to connect with like-minded people nearby, think about a hashtag that might fit like #diyberlin. Like this, you can see what people from Berlin are creating and build a community around the DIY topic in your area.
    • Branded hashtags are very helpful to promote your business and to engage your followers to use it. Like this, you can follow their journeys and see what they are doing. Besides, new followers might find your account like this. An example for a branded hashtag might be #diywithanna or a real and popular one #gymsharkwomen
    • Campaign hashtags, e.g. #freetobe from zalando in 2019 is a good method to push a particular campaign that runs for a period of time

    Once you have found the right type, one of the "must-do's" is to integrate it into the bio of your instagram profile. It is important for building your community and you will find relevant content that concerns yourself.



    3. Quantity Over Quality?

    Instagram allows you to use a maximum of 30 hashtags in a post, but does that really make sense? To be honest there is no exact rule of thumb here. You have to find out what does really work for your account. But if you haven’t any clue here are a few indicators to help you orientate yourself:

    For the reach:

    • 1-3 very popular hashtags (1.000.000-3.000.000)
    • 3-5 moderately popular hashtags (100.000-999.999)

    For the relevance:

    • 5-8 niche-specific hashtags
    • 1-3 branded hashtags

    Keep in mind that too many hashtags can quickly look spammy. One option to avoid this is to use more space between your caption and your hashtags. Another method is to write some hashtags in your first comment. If the caption invites you to follow a certain action such as visiting the product page, the user will not be distracted by hashtags and will follow the request.

    To look how helpful your chosen hashtags really are, take a look at Instagram’s own analytics panel for business accounts.

    If it shows you that your current strategy works, congratulations you have done a good job! If not revise your postings again. Here are a few steps to how to understand the analytics panel:

    1. Chose the post you want to review
    2. Tap on "view insights" beneath your post
    3. Instagram offers you a few insights about your post for example how many „impressions“ you have and how many people you reached with your hashtags



    4. What About Story Hashtags?

    Instagram stories are also a relevant tool to get users engagement. You can interact with them for example via surveys or bring them to your account via „Swipe up“. So it is obvious to use hashtags here as well. Unlike regular posts only a maximum of 10 hashtags can be used in instagram stories. And yes, you should do it! Here are some tricks for a smart usage.

    • Take only relevant hashtags which fits to your content
    • If you use too many hashtags hide them behind a sticker or use the text tool for your hashtags, pick a text color in your photo and hide it in the same coloured background



    To sum it up the correct use of hashtags brings a number of advantages. Here again in fast forward:

    • Community building
      If you have a loyal and engaged community it helps you to grow and to gain more range on Instagram. Many known influencers make use from their own hashtags, e.g. the hashtag #carmushka, which is connected with the German influencer „Carmushka“, has already 1 M. posts
    • Find user-generated content
      With branded hashtags like #bekapten you easily find user-generated content. Your followers can mention you in their post or story with that hashtag.
    • Run a campaign
      To run a campaign with an own hashtag is the best when you plan prize competition or when launching a new product.
    • Research an audience
      Find out who your target group is and what interests they have. Only when you understand your audience better you can catch them with your content.

    We hope this little guide has given you a good overview of how to use Instagram hashtags in 2020. And now just try out what works best for you!