Instagram Hashtag Guide 2021 – How to find the relevant hashtags? [TOOLS, METHODS]

How to find the relevant hashtags?

It is not so difficult if you know the basic principles.

One of them says that the hashtag cannot be too big or too small. But what does it mean?


Instagram hashtags can increase the reach of your photos but only if they are well-chosen – it’s a fact.

And higher reach can bring more likes and followers to your profile – this is also a fact.

But how do you find Instagram hashtags that match your photos?

How do you determine their size that matches your profile size?

And finally, what does “well-chosen” mean?


A lot of questions, and each of them needs to be answered?


In this Instagram Hashtag Guide for 2021, I will try to give you a few methods and a tool that will make the process of determining the size of hashtags on Instagram for your profile and photos much easier.





Determining the size of Instagram hashtags is not a simple process; much less a quick one.

However, since you have been doing it by the seat of your pants so far, a few days or weeks of testing will not be a sacrifice for you in the fight for better ranges and recipients, right?

These methods will require you to constantly test, but above all, understand the mechanism of hashtags, positioning and the platform.

From determining the topic of hashtags tailored to what you depict in the pictures, their proper size, and how the picture goes to the “TOP” photograph of a given hashtag.

Let’s start from the beginning…


“TOP9” of a given hashtag – what is this?

TOP photos under the hashtag are those which were the most popular in a given period of time.

There is no rule for how much time a photo stays in the TOP hashtag photos.

The most popular, i.e. those that received most engagement (likes, comments, shares, subscriptions, switching to a profile, etc.) in the shortest time after publication.

TOP photos are displayed natively, i.e. as the initial view of each hashtag you check on Instagram.

In addition, they extend the life of the hashtag photos by increasing the number of recipients.


TOP photos instagram page

Most often, 30-120 minutes from publication on the platform is decisive, but I usually suggest 60 minutes.

The more time passes since publication, the smaller the engagement and the chance to stand out with the photography under the selected hashtags.

It is worth remembering that each user sees TOP hashtag photographs differently and the most real are the results of those who have never had contact with your profile.

Your friends will see your picture much higher. 🙂


What elements affect whether your photo appears in the “TOP” photos of the hashtag?

What aspects must your photo cover to become a “TOP” photo of a given hashtag?

  • First, it must be interesting and of good quality.

Even the best-chosen hashtags, description, location and other methods of increasing coverage will not be effective if the photo is weak and does not say anything.

Or at least it does not sell as an aesthetic value.

A photography you want to interest people with must be, without surprise, interesting.

This photo is visible in the first place and it is its visual side that determines whether someone will devote his time to it or not.

Before you choose your photographs, think whether they would get your attention.

Do you think they are interesting for people who don’t even know you?

If you had noticed them on another person’s profile, would you stop for a moment, read the description, like the picture and / or leave your comment?

What is amazing for you, i.e. your toddler’s first steps or morning coffee in bed, may not necessarily be interesting for other people.


  • Engagement of recipients.

Content that wins engagement is rewarded in addition.

But how do you get it in 60 minutes after publishing the photographs?

Rely on your own followers!


What is audience engagement?

It is the ratio of the number of interactions of your followers (not random people!) to their total number in your profile.

Their reactions are the largest percentage of interactions in the first minutes/hours from the publication of your photo.

They drive its popularity and help you to raise the position of your publication in the TOP photos of hashtags you added.

The lower the engagement of your recipients in your profile, the less their support in promoting your photography.


Why is it worth fighting for the highest positions on TOP of a given hashtags?

Okay, but why do you even need this position in the TOP hashtag photos?

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is the first photo grid seen by a person viewing the selected hashtag.

It used to be only 9 chosen, best photographs.

Today the list seems endless, but it is still reasonable to focus on the first 9 pictures.


Because we still see so many photos on the first screen (above the draft line), immediately after switching to a hashtag, and this means that they receive the most views.


TOP photos instagram page

In addition, it is a method to extend the visibility of your photo under selected hashtags and increase their range.


How to find the relevant hashtags on Instagram, and what is the ideal hashtag size for your profile?

If someone gives you, without much analysis, the specific size of hashtags that “will match” your profile because you have X thousand followers

It means that you need to look for another source of information.

Each profile, even with the same size, is different.

They differ in subject, audience engagement, gender ratio, and observer location.

The profile is alive, just like the people who observe it, and with so many variables their number is not enough database to correctly determine the hashtags.


For each profile, you must first specify:

  • the subject of photography, and thus also hashtags with which you will describe the photos,
  • determine when to publish – time and day – i.e. when your recipients are active,
  • assess what percentage of your audience will be able to like or comment on your photo right after it is published.

The third requirement is not about writing rigid numbers, but a fair examination of conscience, how many interactions your photos usually get after publication, and what involvement you have in your profile.

If this is a low number, positioning huge and popular hashtags may end in a total flop.

Of course, there are many schools where you can use large hashtags with little involvement, and I will describe them below.

After testing them you will be ready to choose the best one.

I also remind you once again about the photo:

“First, it must be interesting and good quality.”

Don’t forget about it when you choose your hashtags!



I wrote this method many months ago and for a long time suggested it to my friends and people who came to me for advice.

Like any other method which depends on several factors, it is not an ideal method and has its disadvantages.

However, all the pros and cons will be mentioned in the text, so do not worry about understatement.

The method is labor-intensive, so be prepared to take notes.


Step 1:

List hashtags that describe your photo or profile if you have a theme account (min. 5 hashtags).

Above all, we care about specific hashtags that narrow down the subject or community, industry, etc.

For example #discoverpuertorico, #comolake, #coachella, #sanfrancisco, #umbrellastreet

All given hashtags specify the topic.

#discoverpuertorico – discovering Puerto Rico, so you will expect photos that show Puerto Rico

#comolake – photos about Lake Como

#coachella – photos about the Coachella festival

#umbrellastreet – a street with umbrellas, e.g. installing colorful umbrellas above the street


Step 2:

Save the hashtag and the current number of photos that have been published under it.

Preview the TOP 9 photos of each hashtag of your choice.

Then, write the number of the author’s observers for each of the 9 photos in the TOP and the calculated average number of likes of his last 3 photos in the profile.




Hashtag: #discovernewyork

Hashtag size: 53,523 published photos

The author’s profile size TOP1 photos of this hashtag: 5,321 followers

The average number of likes under his photos: 464




Step 3:

Find authors who have the most similar profile size to yours and the closest average number of likes under photographs (at the same time).


Step 4:

For selected authors, find the hashtags in the table under which they obtained a position from 1 to 9 in the TOP photographs ranking.


Step 5:

Save the largest and smallest hashtag size of the authors who had the most similar profile sizes and engagement under the photos to you.


Step 6:

Search for themed hashtags (from your niche, industry, photography themes) that are within the smallest and largest hashtag size selected in step 5.


You can perform a search manually or use the IQhashtags tool and find it automatically.

iq hashtags 2 0 hashtag searchiq hashtags 2 0 hashtag search


iq hashtags 2 0 search tab




Step 7:

In the last step, you need to test your hashtag sets and see if their range increases or decreases.

If the results are not satisfactory, you may need to extend hashtag sizes by several thousand up and / or down.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and analyze.

And above all, use your business or creator account and statistics.

They will significantly enhance your work. 🙂


Method 2 – MIX

Another method which I also test and use is the so-called mix.

It involves mixing small, medium and large hashtags.

What is the purpose?

The method is to build the snowball effect – gaining commitment is gradual.



The assumption is that at the beginning you get a TOP position in small hashtags thanks to the support of your followers.

Then, with observer commitment + TOP hashtag involvement, you raise a medium-sized hashtag.



  • with the help of your followers’ engagement
  • + engagement from the TOP position of a small hashtag
  • + engagement from the TOP position of a medium hashtag


your photo goes to the TOP large hashtag.




Hashtag Performance is a completely new solution that is not available in any other tool on the market.


iq hashtags 2 0 hashtag performance


When writing this text, I am glad that I had a small contribution to the form of submitting ideas and doubts, as well as testing the solution at the initial stage of the project.

This is somewhat one of the reasons for writing this text.

The second one was where the article would eventually appear.

I think that even though the both aspects above extended the implementation time, it was worth waiting for.

Hashtag Performance is similar to analyzing the position of content in the Google search engine (SEO).

In the panel, you can view the position of your photos and the range of information about the changes in the hashtag ranking over time.


iq hashtags 2 0 hashtag performance


What is important, the position is measured for users who are not in contact with you and do not know your profile (most of Instagram profiles).


iq hashtags 2 0 hashtag performance




The number “0” for this screenshot indicates that the photo has already been ousted from the list of the most popular or recent photographs of this hashtag.

This means that it currently occupies a position greater than 100 in the selected ranking of this marker.

Clicking on the hashtag will additionally take you to a new sub page where you can analyze the phases of your photo’s hashtags, including:


  • the number of likes and comments obtained in 30-60 minute intervals,
  • changing the position of photographs in TOP photographs and the latest hashtag photos,
  • overlapping statement of this data over time, i.e. the number of likes, comments and position in a given time, as well as changes in subsequent moments of the day.


iq hashtags 2 0 hashtag performance


How can this data help you determine which hashtags are for you?

First, you have a constant preview of which hashtags position your photo best.

Thus, you increase your chances of multiplying the success for new publications.

You can follow the time after which your photo falls from the last photos published in the hashtag.


This information indicates how much the tag is used and how quickly new publications appear under it.

Too high traffic under the hashtag in the form of a large number of publications means more competition but also interest in the hashtag.


Need more details? Read this article to learn more about how to use Hashtag Performance to increase your reach from hashtags on Instagram: Hashtag Performance – how to find the best hashtags on Instagram?



Traps when choosing hashtags on Instagram

As I mentioned above, each method has advantages, but also disadvantages.

To be honest, none of the available methods guarantees 100% certainty that your photo will suddenly win the hearts of Instagram users.


  • Typing hashtags – hashtag distribution

As you already know, I invented this method many months ago, in response to my followers’ questions on Instagram.

In the case of my own profile it is quite easy for me to select the appropriate ranges.

This is not only due to the knowledge of their recipients and variables, but also a passion for analyzing data.

For other people’s profiles, it was hard for me to spend time exploring statistics and chosen strategies.

That is why I created a method that was primarily to encourage them to research and testing.

After a while, however, I was more aware of the imperfections, which were corrected in this article.

In the original version, there was no mention of the number of likes under your photos that were similar to the number of likes under your photos.

There was also no clear reminder that the main factor that will determine the success of a photography is … the photography itself.

Despite the correction of these understatements, there are still many variables that can significantly affect the results.

For example, dishonest practices that may lie to you when comparing profile sizes or photo likes.

However, this is still a good starting point for further testing.


  • Mixing hashtag sizes

In the case of this method, I say one thing “succeed … or fail”.

Russian roulette, which can end with a shot or total victory.

As with any other method, you must consider other favorable conditions, including determining the time of publication of the photo.


  • Hashtag Performance

The tool presents the most qualitative data resulting from the analysis of your profile and publication.

However, it can’t guarantee that the next photo you will publish will be equally good and will have a similar effect with the same hashtags.


Marketing, also on Instagram, is something that can be estimated, but you can not guarantee that something will not be different than you expected.

After all, as I wrote, the photo, what it presents, its quality – it all affects the interest and the fact that other people are more likely to respond.

There is also photo publication time, whether you have added a narrow location, engaging description, show interest of other creators, promote your posts or share them on other websites and encourage you to switch to the profile.

There are many variables, but … you can control most of them.

You just need to carefully analyze the data!


Summary of how to find the relevant hashtags that match your content and profile size

In addition to testing these methods, first try to develop your photographic workshop.

Get inspiration from other creators and read guides on how to take better photos.

Also, don’t forget that the photo should be labeled with appropriate hashtags, not only because of their size, but also because of the subject.

You are to help those interested in the subject to reach your photography, not to make it difficult.

Use this knowledge – experiment and analyze 🙂