The Real Scoop Behind the Most Popular Instagram Hashtags

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Find out the secrets behind hashtags – and how to make them work for you!

“There’s, like, dust on my Facebook.” – Morgan Stewart, star of “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills”

Not that one should listen to anyone on the show “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills,” but these teenagers do have their pulse on social media (more than us working professionals can keep up with!).  When the main characters of the show officially pronounced Facebook dead and crowned Instagram the new king this week, they caused quite a few media waves.

“Nowadays, posting a photo with someone you’re dating on Instagram is basically replacing the old Facebook status update of ‘In a relationship,'” Morgan declared. Her pal Dorothy Wang wondered, “Who actually changes their status on Facebook” anyway?

Reality show gossip aside, the growth of Instagram is nothing short of fantastic. One picture can literally express more than six witty Facebook statuses. In July 2013, Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom told Fast Company: “By definition, if it keeps growing at this rate, yes, it will be bigger [than Facebook]. It will be the biggest thing in the world.”

So, begrudgingly or not, we all better know our Instagram terms (Insta-terms?) and especially how to use hashtags. It takes work to throw around hashtags like Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon! You don’t want to add in a hashtag that falls totally flat, do you?

If you ever worried about not keeping up Instagram – or were simply curious about how these silly hashtag trends like #instagood got started in the first place – read on! We did the research for you to find out the most popular and useful hashtag trends, how you should use them, and even the origin of the trendiest ones.

(Note: if you want “official instruction” from the company itself on using Instagram hashtags, go here, and enjoy.)

1. #Love

The most popular hashtag of 2013, #love has graced the description of nearly 500 million Instagram photos to date! You can use this tag for nearly anything (perhaps why it’s so popular), from a picture of your new puppy, to a photo of your beautiful coffee milk design.

2. #Instagood

This hashtag began to indicate that photos had been edited with instagood, a mobile photo-editing application. As it picked up in popularity, it grew into a common way to describe any photo that a user thinks looks really great (and is particularly proud of, like that artsy shot of your pencil placed diagonally on top of your open notebook). It is now the second most popular hashtag used on Instagram.

Keep your eyes out to spot other hashtags indicating that the photos were edited with mobile apps before being uploaded to Instagram. VSCO Cam is quite popular (hence #vscocam #vsco #vscophoto, etc.), as is #snappycam, #fxcamera, #picFX, #snappyseed and more.

3. #YOLO

Standing for “You Only Live Once,” urban dictionary defines #yolo as “‘carpe diem’ for stupid people.” Don’t worry, you don’t actually need to be doing something stupid for #yolo to be relevant, but you will happen to be in good company with teenagers, the Kardashians’, and 19 million other photos that have been tagged with #yolo to date. It soared in popularity when Drake used the acronym in his song “The Motto,” although he certainly wasn’t the first person to use the phrase.

4. #latergram

Instagram is used mostly as an “in-the-moment” platform, with people uploading pictures right when they are taken. But what if you don’t want to ruin the moment and take your phone out to upload a picture during your son’s school play or your best friends’ wedding? The #latergram tag can be used when you post a photo at a later time, instead of instantly, and indicates to your followers that this is something that happened hours (or days) ago. It also has an account.

5. #instamood

Back in 2010, a company created the account @instamood, which regularly posts photos of flowers, leaves, and sunsets (for the most part). It became a popular hashtag for using a picture to convey the kind of mood you are in instead of telling someone. Perfect for a bored-face selfie during the conference your manager made you attend.

6. #tweegram

Thousands of Instagram users use a tool called Tweegram to simultaneously post an Instagram photo and tweet at the same time. It allows users to enter a 140 character message to tweet, and then turn it into a visual image, such as a post-it note or a chalkboard with your tweet message in handwriting font, for posting on Instagram. Your ultimate weapon when posting an inspirational quotation to Instagram.

7. #TBT and #WCW

#TBT, which stands for “Throw Back Thursday” has turned Thursday into the perfect day of the week to show off your awkward photos from high school prom or that awful bowl cut mom gave you in 3rd grade. Used to post an old picture – sometimes really old, sometimes just a throwback to when the weather was warm out last summer – #TBT allows you to post pictures that weren’t actually taken on your phone. (Remember when we had digital cameras? Those were the days…)

If you’re going to be throwing this one around, then you should also know #WCW, which stands for “Woman Crush Wednesday.” #WCW allows users to post a picture of their current woman crush, whether a best friend from childhood or a celebrity like Taylor Swift. We love seeing all the pictures that get tagged of Skillcrush on #WCW (hint, hint).

8. #photooftheday and #100happydays

The #photooftheday hashtag is, well, pretty self-explanatory.

Want to turn your #photooftheday up a notch? Try using the hashtag #100happydays, a challenge to post one picture a day documenting a thing that makes you happy. Plus, if you sign up on the 100 Happy Days website, you can receive a book of all of your 100 happy posts after you complete the challenge.

Happy #hashtagging!

Did we miss any? Let us know your favorite hashtags in the comments!

Download The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags Across Social Media

Find out the secrets behind hashtags – and how to make them work for you!