What are Instagram tags, and how do they work on Instagram?

Instagram Tags is a term usually used for hashtags and tagging people or business profiles on Instagram.

Generally speaking, Instagram Tags are used to collectively define hashtags and tagging, although both have different usage on Instagram.


Uses of Instagram Tags -

  • Hashtags on Instagram can be used to mark your posts with specific keywords so that people can better search your content on Instagram. In contrast, tagging is used to notify those who are tagged about a post or an update on the ongoing conversation in the post.
  • Like any other social media app, hashtags on Instagram are created using the '#' sign before a word. For example, adding '#' before the word 'coffee' will create a hashtag '#coffee.' The critical thing to note here is using the correct word since placing a hash(#) sign before a word converts it into a keyword.
  • Tagging people or business profiles is done using the '@' sign before their Instagram username. Often typing '@' followed by a few characters of the username will populate a list of Instagram users, from which a person's username can be selected.
  • Besides the usual feature of Instagram tags, hashtags also have an additional feature; wherein users can follow hashtags on Instagram. This can help with the user experience since once a user follows an Instagram tag, they will get frequent updates in the form of an Instagram feed regarding the content related to that tag.

Overall, Instagram tags can provide necessary insights to Instagram to understand what sort of content is posted.

Therefore, when a content is marked with a hashtag or Instagram tag, Instagram can analyze similar content, defined by the hashtags used, and recommend it to other users searching for content based on those tags.

What is the purpose of an Instagram tag or hashtag?

An Instagram tag or hashtag can be defined as a label to mark and categorize similar content represented by the keyword used in the hashtag.

Hashtags are usually denoted by the '#' symbol, following a keyword.

Social media app users widely use hashtags to help explore content on various social platforms, often organized by the keyword used to define the content.

Instagram Tags are often used to find ongoing trends about a particular topic, event, or thing so that people can search the content they are looking for or are interested in further exploring.

An Instagram Tag can help a social media marketer increase their reach to the target audience and assist the target audience in accessing specific information by searching and following Instagram content using tags.

What does tagging someone on Instagram mean, and how do you tag someone?

Tags are prevalent on Instagram, and just like Facebook or Twitter, tagging allows a person to loop another person into an Instagram conversation.

The Instagram conversation here refers to an Instagram post, a photo or video update, or even a comment on an existing post.

Tags can be created using the '@' sign before an Instagram username (without space in bewteen).

As soon as the tag is created, the person's username will be highlighted as a clickable blue-colored text.

Once the post is published/updated, the user who is tagged will get a notification from Instagram that someone has tagged them in a post, photo, or video on Instagram.

How can you know if someone has tagged you on Instagram?

Whenever someone tags another user on Instagram, the tagged user will get notified about it from Instagram itself.

So, the best way to learn about being tagged into an Instagram post is via Instagram notifications, which Instagram will send.

When someone tags you in their post, photos, or videos, Instagram will send a notication directly to you, mentioning the tag from the Instagram user, and that you can find more about it by clicking on the link mentioned in the notication.

Instagram notifications can be viewed by clicking/tapping on the heart icon at the top or bottom of the screen, depending on which Instagram version (web or app) you use.

Whenever a new notification is received, it will be highlighted by a red dot below the heart-shaped icon.

Once the notification is viewed, the red dot will disappear unless another message is received.

What happens when someone Tags you on Instagram?

Tagging a person on Instagram is different from creating a hashtag. Tagging is done by placing the '@' sign before the username of the Instagram users you want to tag.

Once someone tags you on Instagram, you will immediately be notified about the concerned post.

The whole purpose of tagging someone on Instagram is to loop them into a conversation that has just started or which is already happening on Instagram.

Since the primary content people share on Instagram are their photos and videos, any Instagram user tagged in those posts will also be notified about the post's content.

One important thing to remember here is that if your Instagram account is private, only those people who are following you will get notified.

Therefore you cannot tag just anyone unless you have a public account on Instagram.

In that case, anyone can be tagged in the Instagram post, and they will be notified about the photos or videos you shared.

Can your friends see it when someone on Instagram tags you?

Well, yes and no. Although people think anybody can be tagged on Instagram and the world will know that you are tagged, this is not true entirely.

You see, tagging on Instagram means marking an Instagram user about the post.

Tagging works by adding the Instagram handle ('@' followed by Instagram username!) of the concerned Instagram user in the post.

But not all Instagram users can always be tagged.

  • If the Instagram post is marked as a public post and is originating from a private Instagram account, anyone can be tagged in the post, and only the person tagged will be notified, while people following the post can know which person was tagged.
  • However, if the Instagram post is marked as a private post and is originating from a private Instagram account, only people who are following the Instagram account can be selected for tagging. Once tagged, the person will be notified, while only approved Instagram users who follow the post can check which person was tagged in the post.
  • If the Instagram post originates from a public account, anyone can be tagged in the post, and those who are tagged will be notified. Anyone following the Instagram post can also know about the people tagged in the post.

So, to sum it up, if someone on Instagram tags you, your friends can see it only when they are also following the post.

If the Instagram post is private, marked only to you, rest assured that nobody else can see it except you and the author of the Instagram post.

Why do strangers get tagged on Instagram?

Often people on Instagram get tagged by random people who may be strangers to them.

This could happen primarily for the following reasons;

  • The person tagging other people on Instagram represents a business and is trying to promote their products or services through Instagram.
  • Business accounts on Instagram have access to Instagram Insights, which can help them access their target audience's demographics.
  • When you follow specific posts or hashtags on Instagram, you also provide insights about your liking on Instagram.
  • Certain businesses use this data to design their social media campaigns and can tag other Instagram users who may have shown interest in similar Instagram content.
  • People being tagged on Instagram have a good follower base, and the person tagging those people is hoping to increase their posts' visibility.
  • Often Instagram users with a lot of followers can influence the popularity of an Instagram post.
  • Since there are many Instagram users out there, who are interested in promoting a brand or business to earn an extra buck, often they engage in such activities.
  • Although this is considered spam by Instagram standards, many people still do it to get more likes or comments on their posts or to increase their followers.
  • The person tagging other Instagram users is trying to collect some information from them.
  • These are usually dummy accounts, and their main objective is to gain access to data from other Instagram users.
  • Sometimes people may also create a post with links to external websites and tag random people to lure them to click on those links.
  • All these are spam accounts and should be avoided at any cost.


Both tags and hashtags have become essential tools and are the preferred choice of weapons in anybody's Instagram marketing arsenal.

A well-defined Instagram strategy is incomplete without proper implementation of these tools. 

They should be equally important if you want to up your social media marketing game, something which not very many people focus on when they start their Instagram journey.