XX min read

Mastering the Algorithm: Instagram Trending Hashtags and Your Content Strategy

Published on
November 1, 2023
Hashtags have become a powerful tool in social media marketing. Read here to learn more about Instagram trending hashtags and how to use them for your brand.

In today’s fast-paced social media landscape, hashtags have become integral to creating recognizable branding and online campaigns. What started as hyperlinks to trending topics on X (formerly Twitter) have become powerful tools that help brands elevate their online exposure, engage with their target audience, and join or build a community around specific industries or interests.

Hashtags are now so prominent across various social media platforms, especially Instagram, where online users, brands, and influencers use them to discover content or share their opinions on specific topics. Because of its popularity and effectiveness, brands and social media experts dedicate their efforts to crafting an effective hashtag strategy. That’s why you should, too. 

With that, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide with all the knowledge brands must know about hashtags. We’re breaking down all the essential details, from benefits to common mistakes. You’ll also discover ways to help you develop a creative and memorable hashtag strategy. Read below for more. 

Key takeaways

  • Hashtags are crucial elements that allow brands to improve their online exposure and boost their audience interactions, among other benefits. 
  • Online users can incorporate hashtags in their content, including niche, branded, community, and location. 
  • Brands can determine the right hashtags in many ways, from monitoring influencers to leveraging a hashtag generator. 
  • Hashtags have evolved so much over the years that making a mistake when incorporating them could severely harm a brand's online image.

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Benefits of Using a Hashtag

Hashtags offer various advantages to a brand's social media marketing campaign. Below are some of the known benefits of incorporating them into your content.

Improves online exposure

The biggest reason brands empower their content with hashtags is to boost their online presence and discovery. When users follow or visit a hashtag on Instagram or TikTok, it will lead them to a content space where the top and latest posts are located.

Using hashtags is an excellent way to improve your online exposure by allowing you to target specific audiences, industries, and communities. Doing so will put your brand and content on your target audience's radar and reach any untapped market in your field.

Encourages audience interactions

Hashtags are gateways for brands to connect and engage with their target audience. By incorporating trending hashtags in your campaigns, you can participate in conversations or showcase content related to the topic. 

Doing so encourages users with similar interests to engage with your brand by commenting or reacting to your content. Aside from that, you can use hashtags to join or build communities with your target audience.

Hashtags generally foster a sense of community. Through hashtags, users become a part of a larger conversation and interact with others interested in the same topic. Putting your brand in the middle of that conversation can boost audience engagement. 

Supports content research

Like search engine optimization (SEO) keyword research, hashtags can help brands create effective social media campaigns. If you browse all the content associated with a specific hashtag, you can see what your target audience is talking about and what type of content gets the most engagement in your industry.

Aside from that, monitoring hashtags can help you identify the current trends within your niche. Doing so allows you to generate up-to-date content your target audience will find relevant, encouraging them to engage more. 

Moreover, hashtags can help you access valuable user-generated content to elevate your online presence. User-generated content is any content online users create to promote or review a product, service, or experience. 

Among the most common and popular forms of user-generated content are visual ones like Instagram stories and Instagram reels, primarily because they let people voice their opinions and publish them quickly online.

Boosts competitor analysis

Conducting a thorough competitor analysis on social media will help you analyze what hashtags your competitors are using. Doing so can also help you understand how to properly incorporate hashtags in your content to better connect with your target audience.

Studying competitors also enables you to craft effective branded hashtags. Branded hashtags are those specific to a brand’s campaign or offering, often to promote a product. We'll discuss this and other hashtag types in detail below. 

Types of Hashtags Your Brand Can Use

You can use many hashtag forms to get the benefits mentioned above. The following are some of the best ones you can incorporate into your content. 

General hashtags

These hashtags don't refer to any particular industry or community, making them applicable to all users and content. Some of the best examples of this hashtag are #photography, #throwbackthursday, #explorepage, #travel, and #fitness.

Using general hashtags helps increase a brand's reach and engagement by providing access to a broader audience. However, because of their versatility, general hashtags have a lot of competition, meaning your campaign may get lost in other content if you misuse them. 

Experts recommend combining general hashtags with other hashtag types like niche and brand. That way, you can access a wider audience while engaging with a specific group of people, maximizing your visibility and engagement for your content.

Niche hashtags

Unlike general hashtags, these are specific to a particular industry, community, or interest group, often in a professional sense. People use this hashtag to showcase their work or participate in conversations relevant to their industry or interest. The best examples of niche hashtags are #FoodBlogger, #TravelPhotography, and #WeddingPlanning.

Niche hashtags are perfect for reaching your target audience. Combining relevant hashtags in your industry with content that resonates well with your target audience effectively encourages engagement and creates a community with them.

Of course, choosing the right one for your industry is vital when using niche hashtags. Using hashtags from a different niche will make you look spammy, which is a crucial mistake you must avoid. 

Branded hashtags

Branded hashtags are unique or experimental hashtags companies and organizations develop to promote a specific campaign. They help reinforce brand identity and awareness, creating a distinctive tag that allows businesses to stand out. The most famous examples of these hashtags are Coca-Cola's #ShareACoke, KFC's #NationalFriedChickenDay, and Always' #LikeAGirl. 

Aside from promoting a brand, these hashtags are excellent at building community with the target audience. It creates a space where users can share relatable experiences about the brand or its campaign. It also allows brands to acquire effective user-generated content from those using the hashtag. 

Moreover, branded hashtags are excellent for promoting a specific event, like conferences and product launches.

Community hashtags

These hashtags are used by a specific group of online users to connect and engage with fellow enthusiasts, allowing them to participate in discussions and share relevant content with the community. Regular online users often create community hashtags, but brands and organizations have jumped in to share the same interests and engage with their target audience.

The best example of this hashtag is #bookstagram on Instagram, offering a dedicated space for book lovers. This hashtag became so popular that it's now synonymous with creator accounts that focus on reviewing books online. TikTok also has a rising version of this in #booktok.

Another excellent example of a community hashtag is #dogsofinstagram. This hashtag became popular among pet lovers on the platform. 

Location hashtags

As the name suggests, these hashtags are specific to a particular geographic location. These include cities, countries, neighborhoods, or landmarks.

Location hashtags are excellent for discovering content related to a specific place, from recommendations to current events. They're also perfect for promoting brand events, especially if combined with niche and branded hashtags.

Image by Freepik

Top Instagram Hashtags of 2023

According to trusted social media sources like Hootsuite and Sprout Social, the following are some of the most popular Instagram hashtags. We're listing them below, along with how many uses they received. 

  1. #love (2.1B)
  2. #instagood (1.6B)
  3. #fashion (1.1B)
  4. #photooftheday (1B)
  5. #photography (1B)
  6. #art (1B)
  7. #beautiful (816M)
  8. #nature (771M)
  9. #picoftheday (714M)
  10. #happy (693M)
  11. #follow (687M)
  12. #travel (685M)
  13. #cute (660M)
  14. #style (634M)
  15. #instadaily (627M)
  16. #tbt (581M)
  17. #followme (553M)
  18. #summer (539M)
  19. #beauty (522M)
  20. #fitness (514M)
  21. #like4like (514M)
  22. #food (502M)
  23. #instalike (493M)
  24. #photo (482M)
  25. #selfie (450M)
  26. #friends (436M)
  27. #music (434M)
  28. #smile (432M)
  29. #family (432M)
  30. #life (431M)
  31. #fun (430M)
  32. #girl (424M)
  33. #likeforlikes (385M)
  34. #motivation (344M)
  35. #lifestyle (338M)
  36. #likeforlike (327M)
  37. #sunset (320M)
  38. #amazing (286M)
  39. #nofilter (284M)
  40. #instamood (276M)
  41. #sun (269M)
  42. #follow4follow (250M)
  43. #inspiration (235M)
  44. #followforfollow (211M)
  45. #instapic (205M)
  46. #bestoftheday (200M)
  47. #cool (165M)
  48. #swag (144M)
  49. #night (144M)
  50. #happybirthday (121M)

Best Instagram Hashtags for Different Industries

The list above is the best hashtags for general audiences on Instagram. Here you’ll find the most popular hashtags for various fields. 

For B2B: 

  1. #b2b (3M)
  2. #work (147B)
  3. #smallbusiness (121M)
  4. #business (109M)
  5. #entrepreneur (99.4M)
  6. #success (87.9M)
  7. #marketing (75.8M)
  8. #digitalmarketing (29.7M)
  9. #sales (20.4M)
  10. #ecommerce (14.2M)

For food and beverage:

  1. #food (507M)
  2. #foodporn (300M)
  3. #foodie (241M)
  4. #instafood (237M)
  5. #yummy (199M)
  6. #delicious (148M)
  7. #foodstagram (119M)
  8. #foodphotography (109M)
  9. #foodblogger (83.8M)
  10. #foodlover (77.3M)

For fashion and beauty:

  1. #fashion (1.1B)
  2. #style (641M)
  3. #beauty (528M)
  4. #ootd (426M)
  5. #makeup (395M)
  6. #hair (242M)
  7. #fashionblogger (165M)
  8. #shopping (154M)
  9. #outfit (146M)
  10. #fashionista (136M)

For travel:

  1. #nature (782M)
  2. #travel (697M)
  3. #explore (489M)
  4. #naturephotography (230M)
  5. #travelphotography (216M)
  6. #travelgram (173M)
  7. #wanderlust (149M)
  8. #adventure (143M)
  9. #instatravel (125M)
  10. #travelblogger (84.9M)

For fitness: 

  1. #fitness (520M)
  2. #gym (254M)
  3. #workout (216M)
  4. #fit (191M)
  5. #health (164M)
  6. #training (140M)
  7. #fitnessmotivation (139M)
  8. #bodybuilding (134M)
  9. #fitfam (123M)
  10. #goals (111M)

For tech:

  1. #technology (26.4M)
  2. #tech (19.7M)
  3. #engineering (14.8M)
  4. #innovation (14.2M)
  5. #programming (6.6M)
  6. #computer (6.5M)
  7. #coding (6.1M)
  8. #electronics (5.9M)
  9. #software (5.9M)
  10. #instatech (2.1M)

Tips on Finding the Right Hashtags for Your Brand

Determining the proper hashtags for your social media content is crucial to ensure you achieve the abovementioned benefits. The following are some of the best ways to find the right hashtags for your brand.

Look at relevant influencers and competitors

Influencers are making brands for themselves, meaning they also use relevant hashtags to reach their target audience and boost their page. 

More often than not, influencers are more knowledgeable about trending hashtags because they heavily rely on social media to boost their branding and grow their audience. Monitoring influencers relevant to your brand is an excellent way to identify the right hashtags you can use. 

Aside from learning the specific hashtags in your industry, influencers can teach you how to use them to connect with your target audience. Influencers often understand what online users talk about, meaning they know how to incorporate hashtags in their content properly. Observing their content is an excellent way to ensure your hashtag’s success. 

Moreover, you can monitor more prominent players in your industry to identify what hashtags are relevant. If you share the same target audience with these brands, you can include the same hashtags in your content. You can also take inspiration from their branded hashtags to create your own.

Leverage the platform's search bar

The search bar is a common feature in all social media platforms, allowing people to find other users and discover content. Instagram's search bar lets users do such tasks, but aside from that, they enable brands to identify trending hashtags on the platform. 

Type in the keywords relevant to your industry, and Instagram's search bar will provide the related hashtags you can visit, giving you access to content from various users. The best part about this tool is that Instagram suggests the top hashtags in the results with the number of people using them, helping you gauge how effective and popular they are. 

Use a hashtag generator 

Hashtag generators are online platforms that allow brands to create and identify relevant hashtags for their social media content. Often, these tools suggest popular hashtags based on keywords, locations, or other hashtags. Other platforms use artificial intelligence (AI) to generate hashtags based on a link or image uploaded by its user.

You can use these tools to find the most trending and frequently used hashtags in real-time. Through hashtag generators, you can join a conversation immediately through hashtag generators and provide valuable content before the trend loses steam. 

Using a hashtag generator also helps prevent brands from incorporating the wrong hashtags that could harm their online reputation. 

There have been many cases of known brands misusing hashtags associated with a controversial topic. Some of these brands experienced backlash for looking insensitive or offending a specific community.

A hashtag generator will help you avoid such a mistake by determining the right ones for your brand. 

Image by tirachardz on Freepik

Creating Your Own Branded Hashtag

As mentioned, branded hashtags are now a crucial part of modern social media campaigns. They help increase brand awareness, encourage customer engagement, and build an online community from your target audience. They're also helpful for tracking campaigns and accessing valuable assets like user-generated content. 

Aside from the list of hashtags above, generate your brand’s original hashtag to stand out. Here are some of the best practices when making your branded hashtag. 

Keep it clear and simple

Effective hashtags are always easy to remember and spell. That means you must always avoid complex words or word combinations that are difficult to read. If you have a concept in mind but find it too wordy, look for other ways to convey it. Play with short phrases or a few words and determine the simplest and most memorable way to express your message.

In addition to that, your hashtags must be easy to understand at first glance. You won't have time to explain what your hashtags mean to your target audience. So, you must create one that immediately makes sense for your brand and industry.

Make it unique and relevant

Branded hashtags must be unique to your brand, product, or campaign. This is crucial to help you stand out in your industry and build a community with your target audience. 

Looking at your competitors is best before launching your branded hashtag. Check all their content on social media platforms to see if they haven't used your idea yet. One way to speed up this process is to use Instagram's search bar and type your hashtag concept. 

Moreover, your hashtag must be relevant to your industry. The whole point of creating branded hashtags is to engage with your target audience better. Always think about how your hashtags will resonate with them, and don’t focus on how clever your campaign will sound. One way to make your branded hashtags memorable is to make them relatable.

Test your hashtag out 

Always test your branded hashtag with your team or a focused group to see its effectiveness. Doing so will help you gauge its clarity and relevance in your industry. Of course, in doing so, you must avoid explaining your concept before showing it. That way, test users will have unbiased feedback on the hashtag. 

Testing your branded hashtag can also help you identify errors that may harm your image, which has happened in various brands before. More of that and other crucial hashtag mistakes are discussed below. 

Image by diana.grytsku on Freepik

Common Mistakes When Using Hashtags

As mentioned, using hashtags properly can help boost your social media marketing strategy. However, there are a lot of ways for your campaigns to go wrong because of hashtags. Making the following mistakes could be detrimental not just to your social media marketing efforts but to your overall branding as well. 

Here are some common hashtag mistakes you must avoid to prevent damaging your social media presence.

Not knowing the hashtag's context

One of the biggest mistakes even known brands have made is jumping on a hashtag's popularity without conducting thorough research. Doing so risks aligning your brand with controversial, sensitive, or inappropriate topics. When that happens, you might inadvertently offend a specific community or trivialize a crucial conversation, leading to public backlash that will damage your online reputation. 

Some hashtags may look straightforward or innocent initially, but many represent a significant problem affecting various people. It's the reason why they're trending across different social media platforms. That's why knowing more about a hashtag is vital before incorporating them in your post to use them according to their context.

The good news is that a simple hashtag search on different social media platforms will help you understand its meaning. Review all the content linked with the hashtag and see how people are using it. 

If it's about a serious issue, go further with your research and gather more information from trusted sources outside social media to help you understand it better. If your brand wants to continue incorporating such a hashtag, evaluate your message carefully to avoid damaging your image and offending people.

Using too many hashtags

If you've been practicing search engine optimization (SEO), you might be aware of keyword stuffing. For those unfamiliar, keyword stuffing is an unethical SEO practice where a website overloads its pages with the same keywords in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in the search engine results pages. This technique is often ineffective, resulting in poor experiences and negative online performance.

Using too many hashtags creates the same effect on social media. Instagram’s algorithm doesn't penalize posts that have too many hashtags, unlike search engines that do so with websites doing keyword stuffing. 

However, having too many hashtags on every post will make it look spammy. From an online user's perspective, you're making a cheap attempt at reaching as many people as possible, reducing your brand's authenticity and damaging your social media reputation. 

Including irrelevant hashtags

Incorporating irrelevant hashtags produces the same effects as the two mistakes mentioned above. If your content appears on topics unrelated to your brand, Instagram users will view it as a desperate bid to boost reach. When that happens, you damage your online reputation and trust from existing customers. 

Meanwhile, using irrelevant or unrelated hashtags risks associating your brand with sensitive topics or arguments. You could be standing with or against a particular belief, pushing your brand into a corner with these choices: ignore, delete, or apologize. All are detrimental to your brand. 

Ignoring double-checking branded hashtags

This hashtag mistake has resulted in memorable internet fails that online users everywhere loved and brands definitely hated. There are many cases of brands developing their own hashtags and unintentionally creating something funny or embarrassing far from the campaigns they represent. 

As discussed, using a branded or original hashtag is an effective way to stand out and build a community from your audience. However, always check your hashtag before publishing it. Remember that online users react quickly to anything they see on social media. Even if you manage to delete a post in a few minutes, someone has already seen it and reposted a copy elsewhere. 

Pro Tip: You must be mindful of your hashtag's capitalization. This is crucial if you use multiple words to help your target audience understand the hashtag easily. Aside from that, you must avoid adding spaces and punctuation in a hashtag because it removes its functionality. 

Empower Your Social Media Campaign

Hashtags are powerful social media marketing tools that brands must maximize to boost their brand awareness, reach, and engagement. It also offers an opportunity for brands to access valuable assets like user-generated content that they can use to elevate their digital marketing strategies further. 

Aside from using hashtags to access such content forms, you can use various tools to acquire them. One of these helpful platforms is Archive. 

Archive is an AI-powered platform that offers effective social listening and user-generated management solutions. Through Archive, you won't have to miss any valuable user-generated content like Instagram posts, stories, and reels. Aside from that, you can also use its social listening features to determine what your target audience is talking about, allowing you to identify relevant topics and hashtags.

Visit Archive today and learn more.


User-generated content is among the most valuable assets you can use to boost your brand's online presence. Check out Archive and learn how you can maximize user-generated content for your brand.

FAQs on Instagram Trending Hashtags

Are hashtags effective on other social media platforms?

Hashtags are prominent on all social media channels. Aside from Instagram, TikTok, and X (formerly Twitter), these elements are effective on other channels, including Pinterest, Linkedin, and Facebook. However, there are certain practices and limitations to consider on each platform to maximize a hashtag's effectiveness. 

What's the correct number of hashtags brands can include in their content?

While all social media platforms have few to no limits on their hashtags, each has a recommendation on how many hashtags people can use per post. 

Instagram recommends that users include three to five hashtags. X and Facebook prefer that users have one to two hashtags for readability. Pinterest is more flexible with its recommendation, suggesting six to seven hashtags per pin or post.

Meanwhile, TikTok recommends two to five hashtags because users can only use 100 characters per hashtag. 

Do hashtags boost SEO?

Hashtags can have an indirect impact on SEO ranking and website traffic. Boosting your brand awareness through hashtags is an excellent way to improve your off-page SEO efforts or strategies outside your website. 

When you increase your exposure on social media, you could invite more traffic to your website. Because of that, you have the potential to achieve a better placement in the search engine results pages. 

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