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Instagram Hashtags: How to Use Them To Produce Results

Since it was launched in 2010, Instagram has undergone many changes, but one thing has remained the same: the importance of #hashtags.


Paper phone against a light blue background. Blue paper hashtag symbol against a yellow paper screen.

Why are Hashtags Important?

An Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag. Hashtags were created with the intent to help users find content, so using the right hashtags for your brand can put you front and center of your target audience.

Pro Tip: Make Your Hashtags Accessible

Capitalize the first letter of each word. This will allow screen readers to properly dictate exactly what you mean vs attempting to say a multi-word hashtag as one word. This also helps those with dyslexia and cognitive disabilities to better understand the hashtag. (Example: #iBecCreative vs #ibeccreative)

What Hashtags to Use

Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to find and use hashtags that are smaller, more niche, and have an engaged audience that’s relevant to your industry.

Branded

#iBecCreative

Unbranded

#MaineMarketing #DigitalMarketing #DigitalMarketingAgency #WebDevelopment #PortlandMaine #AgencyLife #DesignAndDevelopment

How Many Hashtags Should You Use?

  • The most common volume of hashtags on a post is 1-3, according to Hootsuite.
  • Instagram posts can have up to 30 hashtags, while stories can have up to 10.
  • According to Later, 11 hashtags is the sweet spot. Data shows that engagement increases with each hashtag as you go up to 11, but starts to decline after.

Hide Your Hashtags

Users prefer clean and concise captions, to achieve the optimal caption we recommend hiding your hashtags. With this method, your hashtags will still be attributed to your post but a mobile user won’t be able to see them unless they tap “view all comments”
Steps:

  • Write your caption as usual but don’t include any hashtags.
  • Once your post is published, click the speech bubble icon to leave a comment.
  • Write out hashtags you want to include in the comment box and tap Post.

Find Related Hashtags

Type your primary hashtag into the app’s search bar, and then select “tags” from the dropdown menu. You’ll then be able to discover all of the top hashtags that are closely related to your own hashtag, revealing additional ways to reach, monitor, and engage.

What NOT To Do

Don’t copy and paste the exact same list of Instagram hashtags into every single post. In 2020, Instagram flagged accounts that used “spammy” hashtags and temporarily shadowbanned them.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

  • If you have a private profile, your hashtagged posts won’t appear publicly on hashtag pages.
  • Numbers are allowed in hashtags. However, spaces and special characters, like $ or %, won’t work.
  • You can only add hashtags to your own posts. You can’t tag other people’s photos/videos.
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