For more than 10 years, the hashtag represented a simple way to group posts and establish certain trends. Twitter’s adoption of this expression led to a firestorm that eventually got several other social networks on the bandwagon, including Instagram.
As opposed to Twitter’s hashtags which are often based on trends of the time that fluctuate wildly in popularity, Instagram’s hashtags maintain roughly the same relative level of popularity.
The network’s 10 most popular hashtags are #love, #instagood, #photooftheday, #fashion, #beautiful, #happy, #cute, #tbt, #like4like, and #followme.
Others like #me, #selfie, and #art are very generic and popular but not used a lot. You may have noticed a pattern with all of these: They’re pretty much a catch-all term that could be posted in a majority of the site’s content.
If you resort to using only these hashtags in your posts, you’ll notice very little organic growth as every post you make will be buried beneath mountains of other posts. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use wildly popular hashtags on Instagram, but you should definitely not be over-reliant on them.
Instead, try a combination of hashtags that include both the most popular options as well as similar hashtags that have a powerful following, but are niche enough that your content won’t be pushed underneath others’ posts within a matter of seconds or minutes.
For example, instead of #love, you could try things like #wonderful, #loveisintheair, or others that are synonymous theme-wise, maintain a significant audience profile, and also are more leisurely in the pace at which posts are added.
Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, so there’s a lot of room for experimentation in this department. Try using 5 very popular hashtags and then sprinkle in a few others that might proactively help you get discovered!