It’s no surprise that Instagram recommends using 3-5 hashtags per post since the very purpose of hashtags is to operate like keywords in a search. But what hashtag strategy should you use?
There are several strategies out there promising to increase your reach. The internet is full of hashtag strategies that don’t help. If you want your hashtags to work, then you need to build your engagement. We’ve found it to be the BEST strategy for hashtags! We’ll discuss what we’ve tested in terms of hashtags and what we’ve found to work so that you can find the strategy for your Instagram marketing plan!
What Are Hashtags?
Hashtags are used to identify content, similar to keywords in a Google search. They are simply keywords with the hashtag symbol (#) in front of it. They help tell what your content is about and helps the algorithm get it to the people who are interested.
When you search for hashtags on Instagram, all posts that contain those words will appear at the top of your feed in either “top” or “recent” posts. They allow users to connect through their common interests and follow accounts related to them.
What Does Instagram Recommend?
The Instagram @creators account came out and told everyone exactly what to do when it comes to hashtags. Their hashtag dos included using relevant hashtags, a mix of small, medium, and large hashtags, specific hashtags that your audience uses, a branded hashtag so your audience can find you, and keeping the number between 3-5.
That’s a lot of info to cram into only 5 hashtags..
They also recommend not overly using generic hashtags (i.e. #instagram, #work, #love, etc.) because it’ll make it harder for your audience to find you. Even more importantly, DON’T use hashtags that have nothing to do with your content. Furthermore, they recommend not using 10-20 hashtags because it “will not help you get additional distribution.”
@creators also explains that the content you’re posting and the way that users interact and engage with it will affect the distribution MORE than the hashtags.
This means if you use hashtags on your posts and don’t get any interaction, your posts likely won’t receive the desired distribution.
What Instagram Hashtag Strategies Have We Tested?
We’ve personally tested the use of several hashtags across different niches. We’ve found that the engagement the posts receive in the first 1-3 hours (if high) helps with the distribution far more than the number of hashtags used.
Here’s what we mean. If we use 5 hashtags and a post gets low engagement, it will also get low reach. Alternatively, if we use 5 hashtags and get a lot of engagement, the post reaches more users.
This is the same whether we use 5 hashtags or 25 hashtags. The reach depends more on the engagement received than the number of hashtags we use.
What Is The Best Hashtag Strategy?
Our overall conclusion is that the best hashtag strategy is the one that involves not stressing over the number you use. Use only relevant hashtags and a combination of small (niche), medium, and large to help reach and focus on engagement first.
The more engagement or interactions your posts get, the better the hashtags will help your reach.
The hashtags you use will depend on your niche and industry, so you will have to test what works best for you. We recommend using a tool like Flick for research. They show you hashtags based on competition and reach and track their performance for your posts. That way, you can see which hashtags are working and which are not.
At the end of the day, the best hashtag strategy is to increase your engagement and create more valuable content. This will ensure your content gets engaged with in the first place and reaches a larger audience to help your growth.