How to use hashtags in 2021

Throwing “good enough” hashtags on posts achieves little. Here’s a dive into a hashtag strategy from the pros that drives results.

How to use hashtags in 2021

Getting attention on Instagram is hard. Getting a following is even harder. Just like most things on the internet, Instagram growth methods are changing by the day.

Hashtags are a well known vehicle for more engagement but very few people seem know how to properly use them.
Placing #love under your post won't do much, as you probably know. Your post won't appear in the Top posts and will simply get lost among thousands of others using the same hashtag.

The secret is simple: try to get in the 'Top posts' of as many and as popular hashtags you can. ✅

The idea is that the people searching for those tags will see your post in the top posts. Top posts of the hashtag will also appear in the feed of users following the tag.

Getting into the top posts for hashtags is simple

Actually, getting into the top posts for hashtags in your league is simple. Yours likely won't become a the top post in #travel so there is no point in using that tag.

But what is the right sized hashtag?

First, have a look at your average likes per post for the last 12 posts. (Tip: IGBlade is your friend here😉)

Then, have a look at the top posts in the hashtag of interest and see if they are getting around the same number of likes that you do. If the answer is yes, then that is a hashtag you could use.


Now that you know the trick, you can start finding good hashtags. Use a hashtag suggester like seekmetrics or all-hashtags for some inspiration.

If you are consistently landing in the top posts for your hashtags you can try to turn it up a notch and aim for more difficult tags - these will get you more eyeballs. 👀

Business Insights come in handy when it comes to tracking hashtag impressions.

Beware though, there is a dark side to hashtags too.

How to get Shadowbanned by using Hashtags 🙀


Unlike finding the perfect tags, getting your posts shadowbanned is super duper easy. There are basically two things to watch out for:

Using banned hashtags = shadowban 🚫

Yes, there are banned hashtags on Instagram, two types to begin with: Permanantly banned hashtags and temporarily banned hashtags. I use this neat little banned hashtag checker.

Never ever use banned hashtags. Period.

Spamming the same tags over and over again = shadowban🤖

This is one even I am guilty of sometimes. It's easy to get lazy and use the same hashtags over and over again.

Use a pool of 100-150 tags, mixing them up, instead of using the same ones over and over again. Instagram allows for 30 hastags a post.

Posting inapropriate content = shadowban🔞

Not a clear cut as the others but certainly the most dangerous one. Inapropriate content might even get your account suspended. Nudes, pictures of self harm, gore are all no-go.

How to check if you're shadowbanned?


Step 1. Check one of the hashtags you use to see your post in the Top posts.
Step 2. Log in to a different account than the one you want to check.
Step 3. Search for the same hashtag. If the post is missing then that post is shadowbanned.

In short if your posts don't show up for others in hashtags, you are shadowbanned. This generally happens to individual accounts but it may happen on the account level as well.

What to do if you are shadowbanned? Check if you used a banned hashtag, and try posting with fewer tags.
Make sure your content is not deemed as innapropriate for instagram.

Once you get the hang of it, the effects on engagement should be apparent on IGBlade 😉