3 Ways to Use Instagram to Search for Hashtags

In the years before Instagram, Twitter was the platform to utilize hashtags. Yes, hashtags did have some use on Pinterest, and they are still used on Google+, but when someone thought about social media + hashtags, Twitter was the clear and obvious choice.

Twitter’s association with hashtags is now equal to the association you have between hashtags and Instagram. And perhaps, hashtags on Instagram are even more relevant given the fact that you often see about 10 or more hashtags on any posted Instagram image.

3 Ways to Search Instagram for Hashtags

Why Use Hashtags on Instagram

In short, hashtag use on Instagram is less about being funny or clever, and more about getting your content found by the right people and you being able to find the content you most want to see. Hashtags included in Instagram photo captions and comments are clickable, and take you to a list of other images that use the same hashtag, shown in reverse chronological order. It’s the use of hashtags as a discovery mechanism that makes them so useful and critical from a strategy standpoint. That’s also why there are usually several hashtags included in every Instagram post (in comparison to the use of hashtags on other social media platforms).

Why You Should Research Hashtags Ahead of Using

The great thing about searching for Instagram hashtags is that Instagram includes a count of posts that use that hashtag to the right of the hashtag. This is key because something as minor as adding or removing an “s” from a hashtag can greatly impact your potential results.

In this example, you see that #fashiondesign is used in over 1.3 million posts, but #fashiondesigns (with the “s” added to the end) is only use 17,000 times.

Instagram hashtag counts

How to Search for Hashtags on Instagram

There are 3 ways to search for what hashtags are best to use in your Instagram posts.

  1. Clicking on the magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen, within the Instagram app After clicking on it, you are met with a Search box at the top, plus Trending posts. Tap inside the Search box and then choose “Tags”. As you start typing out a word, Instagram will auto-populate with hashtag options.
    Instagram Magnifying Glass Search

    After tapping on the magnifying glass, you land on the main Search screen.

    Recently used hashtags

    You have the option to search top posts, by Instagram users, hashtags or places.

    Hashtag autopopulate in Instagram search

    When you begin typing in the Search box, Instagram will auto-populate suggestions for you based on the letters you’ve already typed.

  2. In the caption of your new Instagram post When you get ready to post a new image to your Instagram account and are on the screen where you can give a caption to your image, you’ll see that a hashtag search screen pops us as soon as you type “#”. As you type, Instagram will auto-populate hashtags options for you.

    Search Instagram Hashtags in New Post

    Auto-population is always helpful and makes hashtagging your Instagram posts a lot easier.

  3. On Instagram.com That’s right – the photo app can be searched in your browser! If you are doing some heavy hashtag research for your business, it’s likely easier to do it on your laptop instead of within the add. The Search box is in the center, at the top of the page on Instagram.com. Instagram hashtag search in your browser

The best thing about Instagram hashtag searches is the fact you have several options to do so and can choose a method that best works for your work style.

Make sure to never take Instagram hashtag use for granted again, and do your research before you post!


  1. Kristin

    Great options. I also Google hashtags to get ideas on words or phrases I hadn’t thought of. There are some bloggers putting together great lists.

    • The E R Team

      Thanks for the additional tips, Kristin!

  2. Tina

    So the take away here is to use the hashtags with the highest count, correct? Do you have an opinion about the supposed “magic number” of hashtags to add to an IG post? I’ve read no less than five, no more than ten is the IG rule of thumb.

    • The E R Team

      Hi Tina!

      Yes, you’d want to choose hashtags that have high counts while also being relevant to your image. I agree on the 5-10 hashtag rule of thumb as well. Often I see heavy users place several dots or other character to create visual space after their caption and before their hashtags. If a photo is regrammed, your caption is what will carry with it so it’s better to include your hashtags in your photo caption vs putting them in a separate comment like some do. Hope that helps! Thanks!



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