Instagram Hashtags Cheat Sheet (2021 How To Strategy For Followers)

So you’ve started creating content, you’re ready to grow your Instagram, you’ve figured out that you need a hashtag strategy… but you’re not really sure what role hashtags play in the mess that is social media marketing.

Been there.

Don’t worry, this Instagram hashtags cheat sheet will have you hashtagging like a pro in no time! Being here puts you ahead of the loads of people who have never put any thought into creating effective hashtags. 

With over 1 billion monthly users (half of whom use the app daily) using hashtags is essential to standing out of the crowd. Click to Tweet

So, If you want to connect with new users, maximize engagement, and grow your following exponentially…

Get ready to take some notes.

Welcome to everything you need to know about Instagram hashtag strategy.

Heads up! This page may contain affiliate links. Essentially, all that means is that (at no cost to you) I may receive a commission if you purchase something. If you want to know more about my personal practices you can read about them here.  

How To Do Hashtags on Instagram

We’re going to be covering a lot today, so I’m going to start out by introducing some major concepts that explain a lot of the why for the rest of the post. 

Instagram Hashtag
Instagram Hashtags Cheat Sheet (2021 How To Strategy For Followers) 1

The Algorithm: 

Welcome to the enigma that is the Instagram algorithm. 

The Instagram algorithm is created using AI so it is constantly evolving and changing. Because of this, there isn’t a lot of information on the official rules for the algorithm so naturally, a few rumors formed.

Over time, the amount of information has only grown, and it takes a good amount of wading to find the facts. 

Lucky for you, I’ve done all the hard work.

I’ve sorted a lot of facts out of fiction and below I’ve listed everything there is to know about hashtag use and the algorithm.

  • The algorithm values engagement above all else. Instagram’s goal is to attract as many users’ eyes for as long as possible, and engagement is a direct indicator that a user is interested enough in your content to spend more time on it. 
  • The algorithm can spot spammy Instagram hashtags for followers like #followforfollow and will start to associate your account with spam.
  • On top of this, the algorithm has banned seemingly innocent hashtags such as #coffee that became associated with banned content. Treat these like a #followforfollow and avoid them by using this tool.
  • When picking hashtags, it is very important they are relevant to your content. If the hashtag is irrelevant, a user can mark it as “see fewer posts like this” which tells Instagram that the post is either low quality or not relevant. One too many of those and your account will be marked as spam causing your impressions to drop dramatically.
  • There is a prominent rumor that using over a certain number of hashtags can be seen as spam by the algorithm. However, Instagram has stated that the number of hashtags will not affect the ranking of your content.
  • While it is false the algorithm will kill your post if it doesn’t take off in the first 30 minutes, it is proven that most of your engagement will be received in the first 2-3 hours. This time period will determine whether you make the explore page for a hashtag (more on that in a second). This is why it is so important that your post goes live at a time when your audience will be online to give it the engagement boost it needs to survive. 
  • The algorithm selects the most popular post and promotes them in the top posts tab of the explore page for each hashtag. Getting on this page is the whole point of using hashtags.

Find out what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to the Instagram Algorithm. Click to Tweet

Explore Pages:

So what happens when you use a hashtag in a post?

How does it increase your exposure and engagement?

2020 04 11 19.30.35

Well, when you go into Instagram and type in a hashtag, you’ll find yourself on an “explore page.” The explore page is a collection of the most recent, most engaging content that the hashtag has to offer. 

There are two tabs, the top posts tab, and the recent posts tab. The recent posts can give you a short term boost, but we’ll be focusing our attention on getting our content into the top posts’ category.

When looking at the content on the top posts tab, make sure your tags are quality by checking the feed. The feed should overall be on-topic; if there is a ton of unrelated content in the tag feed it’s not a feed many people would follow. 

Your content is high quality and therefore it should keep high-quality company. Click to Tweet

When checking a feed for continuity, you’ll want to look at the recent post tab. Because the top posts tab is simply the best content, it usually will fit the tag. The recent posts tab for a tag will rarely if ever be as quality as the top posts tab, but the feed should still be consistent.

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2020 04 13 12.28.22

The difference between these two feeds should be blaring. The recent posts tab for #raining is all over the place, it really could be about anything.

No one would want to follow this hashtag.

In comparison, #wanderlust has a feed that is overall cohesive and on-topic, even if it isn’t as beautiful as the top posts tab.

But what’s so important about the explore page, you ask?

Well, by getting your content in the top 9 results for a hashtag, you will expose yourself to every user that: follows the hashtag, searches the topic, or clicks on their recommendations.

Talk about a lot of exposure!

But how do you get into the top 9?

To start, top posts on the explore page for a specific hashtag are the posts that have the highest engagement on them.

Engagement is measured by:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares (Direct Messages)
  • Saves (Bookmarks)

Generally, if your post is going to place in the top 9 posts on the explore page it will do so within 2-3 hours of going live. This is why it’s crucial to receive a good amount of engagement right out of the gate.

In order to do that, you need to ensure you’re not only using hashtags but that you’re using the right ones. 

Follow these steps, and you’re sure to have a handy, unique, Instagram hashtags cheat sheet in no time.

Step One: Find Hashtag Topic Ideas

So we know that hashtags are useful, but how useful you ask? 

Well, according to a study done by Later, even a single hashtag will increase engagement by 12.6% – and if you were to up that to 11 or more hashtags your engagement would increase by an additional 60%. 

I’ll let those stats speak for themselves.

But where do you find hashtags? And how do you know which ones will perform?

That’s a question that takes a bit more answering.

When trying to figure out hashtag topics, keep in mind that hashtags are searchable. Essentially, hashtags are how Instagram categorizes your content for users. 

What is super exciting about this is that you get to pick where you want to be placed! Hashtags are a great way to find exactly who you’re looking for, and really target your content for your ideal fan. 

The best way to go about this is to create an avatar for your ideal fan: what are they searching for? What are their questions? Their interests?

Answer this for your ideal fans/clients and you’ve found the core of a good hashtag.

The most important thing to remember is that it is absolutely vital for your hashtags to be hyper-related to your content.

Your visual should match your description which should match your hashtags.

If a user searches #hairstyles they expect to see a photo of hair. If your ideal fan searches for #blogginghelp they shouldn’t find a picture of your cat – and if they do, they almost certainly won’t engage with it.

Below, I’ve listed a few ways that I use to find or think of new hashtags.

Hashtag Brainstorming Tactics:

Trend Research:

Trends are a great way to extend your following to areas your usual hashtags won’t so they are a fun way to mix up your content. Whether it’s to agree, disagree, or simply inform they can be a great way to interact with new users.

You can pick up on trends by checking the trending hashtags on Inflact or by checking Google Trends.

I highly recommend subscribing to the Google trends newsletter. It sends out simple, concise, information once a week – making it easy to stay up to date without any effort at all.

Following Hashtags:

Did you know that you can follow hashtags? Even better than that, following key hashtags in your niche is an excellent way to stay up to date on trends, in touch with competitors, inspired by the constant new content!

Explore Page:

You know that nifty explore page we talked about? Well, it only gets better. Not only does the explore page help you rank – but it even goes as far as to suggest similar hashtags.

These are GREAT for exploring new hashtags and will bring you tons of new ideas!

Screenshot 20200719 212208 1

Competitor Research:

You can find a lot of high-quality hashtags by checking the hashtags the competitors in your niche are using.

You want to be careful to only pull hashtags from quality sources.

Just because someone has a large following, doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing so make certain that you treat these just as ideas, and put them through the same process as any other hashtag.


If you’re a blogger like me, you may have heard of this thing called SEO. If you’ve already put all that effort into finding keywords you might as well check if they have a hashtag that would help grow your page!

If you want to learn more about SEO, I have a super in-depth guide on keyword research here to get you started.

What tactics have you been using for seo? Do you have one that you think I should add? Drop a comment below I’d love to hear from you!

Please leave a feedback on thisx

Hashtag Generators:

There is an incredible number of hashtag generators at your disposal. These are incredibly helpful for providing you with a variety of hashtags so that you never have to worry about reusing the same hashtag too frequently.

If you need more ideas or inspiration, I have an article full of specific hashtags you can implement today.

Hashtag Types:

When you get right into it, there are a lot of different hashtags out there – and a fair portion will relate to you and your content.

You will want a large number of hashtags, as it is important not to re-use them too often, and the more hashtags the harder it is to find the ones you need.

In order to manage all of my hashtags, I find it incredibly helpful to categorize them! By categorizing my hashtags – it becomes easy for me to find the ones I need while scheduling my content every month.

The ultimate goal here is to create hashtag groups that we can easily re-use, that are already optimized and ready to go as quickly as possible.

BUT, before we put the groups together, lets talk about the different pieces that make up a balanced hashtag group!

Static Hashtags:

Static Categories are the hashtags I can COUNT ON.

I can consistently use them without worry because they relate to all of my content.

Hashtags that fare considered “Static:”

  • Brand: Tags created for your community, a campaign, or testimonials. On top of that, I recommend having a main brand tag or domain tag. For example, mine is #hippieonholiday. Make sure to use it if you share this post for a chance to be featured!

  • Industry: Tags relating to your niche, your core values, and your visual content. 
  • Audience: Your ideal fan’s searches, interests, and questions. If you have a scenario where you can tag other users that are related to the content such as business partners, brands, or friends – do that as well!
  • Daily: Tags such as #motivationmonday. These are fairly generic but can be very useful if they are related to your content! Some people even base their content calendar off of these hashtags. 

It’s a good idea to go through your Static hashtags every 2-3 months to ensure they still make sense for your audience.

If you use Flick like I do, you’ll be able to see the analytics for each individual hashtag – so you can phase out the ones that aren’t actually helping you gain any traction.

Flexible Hashtags:

Flexible hashtags are debatably more important than Static. 

After scheduling the future month of content, I’ll look through my posts for the month for hashtag inspiration.

I write down any ideas I get that I think I should tag, and then I research them (which I explain in a moment). After researching these ideas, only the best will be saved for future use because these hashtags don’t relate to all of my content like Static ones do.

If you feel like it’s likely you’ll need to use it again then save it!

But since it’s impossible to be hyper-relevant to your content without actually seeing it/reading it – you’ll just have to repeat this process to find super-relevant hashtags every month (unless you can see the future. If so – teach me!????).

  • Location: Tags relating to the places you go, the city your in. These can be moved to static if you have a stationery business or are targeting a certain area. Since I like to focus on travel this is a flexible category for me.
  • Product: Tags for products you are an affiliate for or products you use frequently and recommend.  If you’re not sure how to enable the Instagram shopping feature I’ve got a guide here (a MUST do if you sell products).
  • Specific: Tags are intended for specific occasions such as #atthemovies or #iceskating. Make sure to include a healthy portion of these!  
  • Trend: Use these tags when you talk about trends! This category fluctuates frequently, so they usually won’t ever be helpful in future use. In case you forgot, these are my trend tools:

Step Two: How To Pick A Winning Hashtag:

Now that we have a bunch of ideas and a way to keep them organized, it’s time to narrow it down.

Not every catchy hashtag is going to be good for your account.

In fact, some really popular hashtags will actually hurt your account. 

How To Avoid Banned Hashtags:

There are the obvious ones, such as #like4like or #followforfollow, but many others are seemingly innocent hashtags such as #coffee that are banned when they become associated with banned content. Because of this, it is very important you check your hashtags for bans before you use them!

Are you using banned hashtags on Instagram? I didn’t think I was either. #fail Use this tool to make sure your hashtags aren’t hurting your growth. Click to Tweet

I love IQ Hashtags because I can simply copy-paste my hashtag group into a box and it will check it for me – you can even have it analyze your profile to check all of your old posts!

For a free tool, I think that’s pretty cool

In addition to this, tags that are normally not seen as spam can be perceived as spammy if you either use them too often, or you use tags that are not relevant to your content.

2020 04 13 12.38.25

If you use a tag that isn’t related to your content and a user comes across it on the explore page or in their feed, users can mark the hashtag as “don’t show for this hashtag” which tells Instagram that the post is either low quality or not relevant.

One too many of those and your account will be marked as spam causing your impressions to drop dramatically.

One of the main reasons for hashtag groups is to help you avoid literally “spamming” a hashtag by using it every day. When you schedule your hashtags in advance it’s a lot easier to ensure you don’t use the same hashtags too often.

Good practice is to avoid using the same hashtag twice in one week.

Recent Post Tab:

Remember the recent posts tab I touched on earlier? Well here’s the step by step on successfully utilizing this page.

What’s really useful about the Recent Posts Tab is that it’s an easy way to boost the initial engagement of a post.

Like we talked about earlier, you want to receive as much engagement as you can in the first 2-3 hours. 

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In order to get that initial engagement, you want to make sure you’re using hashtags that extend your time on the recent tab.

To make this a bit simpler, I’m going to use an example to walk you through.

Let’s say our niche is entrepreneurship, and we want to look at the hashtag #spiritualentreprenuer.

While a lot of people focus on the number of posts (aka the velocity) when trying to rank on the explore page, this number is really only helpful when trying to garnish initial engagement on the recent posts tab.

If a number has a lower velocity, and fewer people are using it, you will stay above the fold for a longer amount of time and therefore increase your chance of being found!

To know if a tag will boost your exposure on the recent posts page, check the average time for the top 9 posts in the recent tab.

If most posts last more than 5 minutes, this hashtag can help you receive initial engagement (even if it won’t help you make the explore page). These tags generally have a velocity of less than 500k.

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Calculating Engagement:

While velocity can be a good indicator that you should check into a hashtag, when it comes to actually getting onto the tops posts tab on the explore page we have to do a bit of math.

But don’t let that deter you!

Even if you aren’t a math fan, it’s nothing a phone calculator can’t handle.

Since the Instagram Algorithm values engagement above all else, the engagement is what we’ll be focusing on. In order to know if you will be able to rank, you first need to take a look at your own profile.

For this example, we’ll look at Sunny Lenarduzzi. 

My Post

Heads up! Sunny Lenarduzzi is one of my FAVORITE Youtubers. She is a wealth of information when it comes to social media marketing (especially Youtube) and I highly recommend checking out her channel!

Taking these???? numbers, we’re going to find her average number of comments…

DUKY9N3F7gevbL4tC uukVoKxC3nxi6XuuGi6Wcyqw4pXcwsIiUY2L4fhIARQBw1 BIPMarMtRj9zzqecDmkHDlvuG 2IXgpWAAOLooFl8NzeTX

HzRSb23eKiH1AKNb9mS2xAl hgbTJNVkPo1NqcZlXorRbImOri8PN3gc4QMNx5tA0 47EpsdTsK c Axi2AMO6Q9mtcnsXGz TotEbm1PqaYAaHn74WesC0hr55rQgNBvFkgEm68

And her average number of likes…

BwwvCb uBPbEuhi1xI0KrUYjdoaBl6HMsfZ2BLZKJxX3pbpFrXLY9rxeNCFMAdkAYXM4eU6W6sMrpGUpfqxyzpr4OgQqXgtgUsSXohXGz1i E93Qzo3 nJVbFwitgaGPQCLiSUez

AlBWDtBm3joKT n5nVGgn9ImRvzQ7ceixLNPX80dWshWDQ

Now we rinse and repeat.

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Because Sunny Lenarduzzi’s niche is entrepreneurs, we’ll continue with the same hashtag from earlier.

Looking at the hashtag #SocialEntreprenuer explore page, we can find that the current average engagement is 606 for likes and 47 comments. 

By taking Sunny’s average engagement of 3,900 likes and 280 comments, and comparing the two, it becomes obvious that this is a hashtag that Sunny will easily make the explore page for.

Using this strategy, you can now choose the ideal hashtags for your account!

Step Three: Creating Hashtag Groups:

Now that we understand where to find hashtag inspiration, how to avoid banned hashtags, and how to calculate engagement we can create our hashtag groups! 

Hashtag groups are what you’ll actually be posting.

Because using the same hashtag multiple times a week can be seen as spam by the Instagram algorithm, creating one hashtag group for each day of the week is an easy way to ensure you don’t accidentally repeat any.

There are just a few components to keep in mind when putting a hashtag group together. 

First off, make sure you’re utilizing the hashtag types we talked about earlier. Keeping your hashtags organized by topic and future usability will save you oodles of time when you schedule your content.

Because of how important I feel this is, I went ahead and created a hashtag organizer – so you can easily find your hashtags and your groups while scheduling your content.

It’s completely free, just drop you email here???? and I’ll send it right over!

[mailerlite_form form_id=2]

I’m not gonna lie, this is going to come in pretty handy while keeping track of your research.

Next up, we’ll be learning how many hashtags you want to use in a group, the engagement funnel, and how to spread out your hashtags for the most reach.

Have fun!

The Number of Hashtags In A Group:

If you’re new to the social media marketing world, you might be surprised to find that there is a ridiculous amount of controversy over the number of hashtags to use per post. 

Since there is so much conflicting information on the ideal number of hashtags I’ve dug deep and researched just about everything on the internet in order to find the most accurate answer.

Below, I’ve listed the most popular arguments I’ve found for comparison purposes.

  • 5 Hashtags Per-Post: Many companies limit themselves to a mere 5 hashtags, for example states: “But when you add more than 5, it will be perceived as spam, and likely for users to swipe away from your content.” Their concern is that a large number of hashtags will make the user associate the brand with spam. 
  • 11 Hashtags Per-Post: This seems to be the magic number for a lot of people when it comes to hashtag use. However, most of these sources are all citing the same study – a study which found that engagement will increase by 60% from 11 or more hashtags. A key point that often seems to be forgotten.
  • 30 Hashtags Per-Post: Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on a post, a number they are strict on. If you place over 30 hashtags your post will simply end up with no caption at all (so hopefully you wrote it on a different platform!). Many Instagram experts such as Alex Tooby and Aaron Ward recommend using all 30.

The main argument against 30 hashtags seems to be spam perception and a lack of relevancy. Being as the algorithm does not mark 30 hashtags as spammy – this is essentially just a warning to prioritize relevancy over the amount.

If you’re concerned about users perceiving your brand as spammy due to the number of hashtags you use, you can simply hide them in the comments as I discuss below. ????

For new users, I recommend shooting for 30, simply because there are more chances for exposure and you will be able to see the analytics on a large variety of hashtags. Once you’ve seen how your hashtags are performing, you can cut down to your preferred number.

At the end of the day, I aim for 20, but if I can find more relevant hashtags I’ll go up to 30 and if I feel I can’t stay on topic for 20 hashtags I’ll lower that number to 11.

Relevancy should always come before the number of hashtags.????

When creating your hashtag groups, keep in mind you only have so much space.

Whether you decide to place your hashtags in your comments or in your caption (more on that below), it can definitely influence the number of hashtags you decide to use.

The Engagement Funnel:

Now that we understand how to calculate engagement and know how many hashtags we’ll be using, it’s time to learn how to distribute your tags to get even more engagement!

You see, what really matters when looking at the engagement average on the explore page, is how that engagement compares to our own.

If your number of comments and likes is nearly equal to the average on the explore page, you have a good chance of ranking on the explore page. Therefore, by finding hashtags that you average more engagement than, you’re guaranteeing yourself a spot on the top posts tab and maximizing your engagement.

When starting out, it can feel like the hashtags that you’re able to rank on are too small. ???? The velocity is tiny and you can’t imagine that very many users follow the hashtag #travelforeverarrivenever if only 1,000 people have even used the tag.

That’s where you’d be wrong.

You see, the instagram algorithm motitors the engagement of a post, but more than that it takes notice of which posts are performing well. Because of this, making the explore page for one of these tiny hashtags can trigger a snowball effect!

This hashtag funnel helps Instagram to whittle it down to the best content for their users. Simplified, there are 4 stages to getting your post on the explore page for the most popular hashtags:

Hashtag Pyramid Infographic
Instagram Hashtags Cheat Sheet (2021 How To Strategy For Followers) 2

  • Easy: Generally you’ll want 40% of the tags in your hashtag group to be made up of these. These are tags you average more engagement than.
  • Middle: Aim for about 30% of your hashtag group. What was the engagement of your top post in the past week? Use this as a metric for Middle. It’s engagement that is attainable, but not commonplace.
  • Hard: These make up 20% of a group. They are hashtags that are out of your league, but that’s what makes this funnel so perfect! The perfect hashtags for this category have average 1-200 more comments and likes than your average post.
  • Hail Mary’s: These will \ make up 10% of your hashtag groups because while it is extremely unlikely to rank on these explore pages, if everything goes best-case scenario, these are the hashtags that are really going to skyrocket your engagement. These are the more popular hashtags that average 5-10 times your normal engagement.

So how does this work?

Simplified: once your post has made the top page for 1 or 2 Easy hashtags, the algorithm will notice and is more likely to push your content to the top page for a Middle hashtag. From there you may rank on multiple Middle hashtags, then multiple Hard hashtags, and one the rare occasion even a Hail Mary!

By utilizing this variety of hashtags, you can climb the pyramid and gather the most engagement for your posts – therefore quickly expanding your reach!

Putting 2 & 2 Together:

Now that you know the categories you’ll be using, the number of hashtags to use, and the variety of engagement you need –  you can finally create your hashtag groups!

Hashtag groups will save you a ton of time when scheduling your content, as you can consistently use your Static tags as a base and add your more Hyper-relevant content on top. You’ll want to save the groups you create for easy access in either a notes tool or in your scheduling tool of choice.

I started out using Trello myself, but later upgraded to Flick (which I highly recommend!).

When it comes to the different hashtag categories, I like to make sure I’m using a certain percentage of each so that the emphasis is placed on the more important subject. Since you want the majority of your hashtags to be hyper-relevant and focused on excelling your brand, I recommend roughly this break down within your hashtag group:

  • 40% Specific
  • 30% Audience and Industry
  • 10% Branded
  • 10% Trend and Daily
  • 10% Location and Product

Using this, you can see that If you were to aim for 11-30 hashtags like me, you have a nice outline of which hashtag topics to include.


  • 3-9: Audience or Industry hashtags
  • 1-3: Branded hashtags
  • 1-3: Daily (or trend) hashtags


  • 4-12: Specific hashtags
  • 2-3: Location or Product hashtags
  • 1-3: Trend (or daily) hashtags

However, you can easily adapt this to whatever number you decided on. 

Similarly, I like to aim for a certain number of tags at each engagement level within the funnel:

  • 40% Easy
  • 30% Middle
  • 20% Hard
  • 10% Hail Mary

For a range of 11-30 hashtags that is:

  • 4-12 Easy
  • 3-9 Middle
  • 2-6 Hard
  • 1-3 Hail Mary

Using this strategy you can quickly create hashtag groups of any amount!

Hashtag Group Cheat Sheet Infographic

Hint: Save this for later! ????

The great thing about keeping your static hashtags separate from your flexible ones is that you will already have 40% of your hashtag group complete before starting on your content-specific hashtags. 

Create effective hashtag groups fast with this new step-by-step system! Click to Tweet

Understanding Your Analytics:

It’s important that after you put all of this time into creating hashtag groups, you don’t just forget all about it.

You want to make sure that all the hashtags you’re using are actually performing, and if they aren’t bringing in the desired engagement – you’ll need to replace them!

If you have a business Instagram account (and you should have a business account) you’ll be able to access a variety of in-app analytics. While the native analytics provided by Instagram do have some useful features, they are sorely lacking when it comes to hashtags.

Tracking individual hashtags is something that can help you really zero in on what your audience is resonating with! Since hashtags are such a huge part of growing on Instagram, a third party hashtag analytics tool is worth investing in.

In fact, it’s one of very few services I chose to pay for right off the bat. There are a bunch of Instagram analytics tools out there but if you don’t want to dig through them you can just use the tool that I use!

After all, I already spent hours researching before I decided to rely on Flick – and I LOVE it!

Flick tracks each of my hashtags individually so I can see exactly which hashtags are getting me seen – and which ones are wasting my time.

Game. Changer.

Step Four: Placing The Hashtags on Instagram:

Whoo! Congrats.

You’re in the home run.

Be proud of yourself, you’re learning a lot today! 

Now that we have our hashtags, let’s just make sure we’re fully utilizing them! After all, your feed isn’t the only place hashtags can be placed….

Hashtags in The Comments or The Caption?:

Because of the 2,200 character limit for posts and the importance of using a long caption, many users opt to place the hashtags in the comments so they have more space for their caption. Many users also consider this “hiding” their hashtags as they can get buried if you have enough comments on your post. 

According to a study by SocialInsider, If you have less than 100k followers you will receive the most engagement by placing your hashtags in the captions. On the reverse, if you have over 100k followers you will get better engagement by posting your hashtags in the comments!

If you do decide you’re going to post your hashtags in the caption, make sure to leave blank space between your description and your tags. Otherwise, you will see a drop in engagement (usually due to users getting distracted from your call to action).

This tool can be helpful for creating space in your Instagram hashtags. Otherwise, as I’m sure you’ve seen, many people simply create space using periods.

Screenshot 20200725 160125
Instagram Hashtags Cheat Sheet (2021 How To Strategy For Followers) 3

The largest argument for placing your hashtags in the comments is that it leaves no distraction from your call to action (it is because of this, that I personally choose to place my hashtags in the comments). 

Be mindful of your decision when picking a hashtag tool, as some scheduling tools will allow you to schedule your hashtags in the comments, but others do not provide the feature.

When using a tool without this feature you will be limited to using your caption – unless you’re crazy enough to add your hashtags to the comments manually every day.????

Luckily the tool I use, Tailwind, allows me to schedule my hashtags in the comments!

Tailwind made learning to schedule content EASY – and I appreciate the fact that their free trial is based on number of posts rather than time. I was on their free trial for almost 4 months before I became a customer!

& Now I’m basically a raving fan. ????

Profile Description Hashtags For Followers:

Shortly after Instagram added the ability to follow hashtags, they made it so that you could leave a link in your Instagram bio for hashtags. Unlike most of the hashtags we’ve discussed today, this isn’t just going to be a ‘descriptive’ hashtag. 

Because hashtags in your bio are a way for the user to click-away from your profile, it is important to use them carefully.

This is the ideal place to link to your main brand hashtag.

Whether you use a CTA for features, or simply provide it to hype up a certain campaign, it is important that the hashtag is yours and not just a hashtag you like to use. Otherwise, your users may be lost to other profiles they find after clicking on the hashtag. 

Placing this brand hashtag in your bio will boost its use, and thereby, your community! Encouraging your ideal fans to share and use your tag is a great way to get some free peer-to-peer advertising and promote to a whole new audience.

Other than this, I recommend optimizing your bio in ways besides hashtags. If you’re interested, you can learn more about profile optimization here.

How To Do Story Hashtags on Instagram:

For some reason, people tend to completely forget about hashtags when it comes to their stories! Which is really quite sad, because they’re missing out on a lot of potential engagement. 

Luckily, you know better! 

When you place a hashtag in a story, there’s a chance it will show up in the story for the hashtag on the explore page, thus more engagement and more exposure.

You know the drill.

Here are some tips for using hashtags in your stories:

  • Some people used to shrink their hashtags really small in order not to look spammy, however, Instagram caught on to the practice and now tiny hashtags don’t count. In order to be shown on the hashtag story, the hashtags need to be a legible size. You can, however, cover them with a sticker if you’d like to hide them and they will still count. 
  • It’s a good idea to make smaller, maybe 3-5 word hashtag groups specifically saved for easy use on your stories. Make it accessible and you’re more likely to use it! 
  • Make sure you don’t forget other tags besides hashtags! You should always tag your location, your clothes, and your friend’s profiles! These are all ways your content can reappear and extend its exposure. It’s also a good idea to always tag your own profile, as any user that passes your story on the explore page has a chance to click it. 

Instagram Hashtags Cheat Sheet:

If you can mark all of these off, you’ve cracked the code to better engagement.

Get excited! It’s time for some serious growth.

The Hashtag:

  • The Hashtag is Specific and relevant to your content.
  • Has not been used in the past week.
  • Will last more than 5 minutes on the recent posts feed.
  • Is not spammy (like #follow4folllow)
  • Has not been banned (check using this tool)
  • Has a high quality recent posts feed.

The Hashtag Group:

  • Has between 11 – 30 hashtags. 
  • Is made up of these categories.
    • 4-12 Specific Flexible Tags
    • 3-9 Audience or Industry Static Tags
    • 2-3 Location or Product Flexible Tags
    • 1-3 Branded Static Tags
    • 1-3 Daily Static Tags or 1-3 Trend Flexible Tags
  • And falls into these levels of engagement.
    • 4-12 Easy
    • 3-9 Middle
    • 2-6 Hard
    • 1-3 Hail Mary
  • Preferably you have 7 static groups (40% of a complete hashtag group) ready to build on top of.

Steps For Success:

  • You know your average engagement rate.
  • Your Brand hashtag is in your profile bio.
  • You have an avatar for your ideal customer
  • You’re using this chart to organize your hashtags (chart.)
  • The post is going live at the ideal time for your audience (using this tool.)
  • There are hashtags saved in your notes for easy access when posting stories.
  • You’re keeping up on trends (using Google Trends).
  • You’re following hashtags and engaging with competitors.
  • You’re monitoring your hashtags with Flick, and phasing out the ones that aren’t working.

If you find this checklist helpful, you can download it right here for easy future use! No email required. Just free help!


  • Start your own hashtag campaign! Find an unused or barley used hashtag, and ask your followers to tag certain content so that you can find it! This is great for giveaways as well as testimonials and re-posts. Create your own brand Instagram tags, for user use. Learn more in this post.
  • Follow hashtags in your niche and engage! Make new genuine connections online, and you’ll never know which ones will become business partners later.

If you read all the way to the end of this, I commend you! I recommend bookmarking for future reference, as I keep this post updated. 

If you learned a thing or two, make sure to share this with a friend who could benefit from it! Don’t be an info hog.

Comment below with any questions and I would love to elaborate. 

Or, shoot me an email here and I’ll be happy to give you some 1-1 help!

See you next week! ❤️️

P.S. Pin This For Later

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