Instagram hashtags are fundamentally a way to label and categorise your content. They then help Instagram serve your posts to relevant users on the explore page. 

Hashtags are also used as a reference for the Instagram algorithm, so it can categorise your content and suggest it to users it thinks will have a high interest.

So all in all, yes they are still useful and still have a point. 

However, gone are the days of hashtagging for the length of a small essay. It’s now much more about quality over quantity. In fact, Instagram itself recommended only using between 3-5 hashtags. The technical maximum allowed is 30 per post.  

As Instagram slowly pivots towards semantic keyword search, it opens up a new world of possibilities in content discoverability – indicating that the words in your captions or the topics in your videos will become searchable too. 

However, despite these major advancements, hashtags do still work on Instagram. Paired with a strong content strategy, they can help yield impressive results.

Social media scheduling platform, Later, carried a study looking at 18M+ Instagram feed posts – comparing the number of hashtags used per post with average reach rates. 

Essentially the results showed that using more hashtags = better results. Reach rate increases by 11% (from 24% to 35%) as the number of hashtags grows from one to 30. 

To put that in perspective, for an account with 20K followers, that’s an additional 2.2K accounts reached per post. 

The study even looked at whether this trend had changed compared to 2020, but the results were fairly consistent. 

The takeaway? As Instagram is introducing more “suggested” content feeds, focusing on fewer, hyper-relevant hashtags could be a tactic worth testing.

What types of hashtags exist?
Hashtags can be categorised into the following. 

  • Location-based hashtags, like #BryantPark or #LowerEastSide
  • Branded hashtags for campaigns or events, like #Later or #LaterCon 
  • Industry hashtags that describe your niche, like #SocialMediaManagers or #WeddingPlanners
  • Community-focused hashtags to bring your community together, like #VanLifeLiving or #IAmASweatyBetty
  • Descriptive hashtags which describe the content of your actual post, like #WoodwickCandles or #SheaButterProducts 

Understanding the different categories may not help so much with strategy but more so in providing valuable inspiration and help guide your strategy.

Try to implement 3-5 niche hashtags per post into your social media schedule be it via Hootsuite, Later or another platform. Track how many likes and follows they attract and alter if necessary. 

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