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How Many Instagram Hashtags Are Best For Engagement?

Nov 28, 2021

Previous studies have shown less is more. However, Instagram says you should add 3 to 5 relevant hashtags to reach your target audience.

What to do?

As with everything social media, much depends on your focus and audience. The Instagram marketing platform Later recently analyzed more than 18 million Instagram feed posts (not including videos or stories) to determine the best hashtag usage to drive engagement and reach.

Their main finding? On both fronts, more Instagram hashtags are indeed better.

Posts with 20 hashtags have the highest average reach rate.

Posts with 30 hashtags are not far behind.

Instagram Posts with 20 hashtags have the highest average reach rate

This finding is consistent with Later’s prior research, as you can see in this comparative graph.

Number of Instagram hashtags vs. reach rate per post 2020-2021

Later also discovered that 30 hashtags produced the best results in terms of engagement — driving more likes and comments.

Number of Instagram hashtags vs. engagement rate per feed post

Interestingly, this data contradicts Instagram’s own advice, which indicates that creators should use 8 to 15 Instagram hashtags for best results.

Using more hashtags makes sense for maximizing discoverability and getting your posts into more Explore channels and listings. However, this approach can make your posts appear more cluttered — although this doesn’t seem to be a significant concern for users.

What should you choose?

Number of Instagram hashtags for optimal reach and engagement

There is no one correct answer. It will depend on your unique audience, what they like, and what you’re trying to accomplish with your posts.

Later’s findings, based on a broad range of feed posts (again, not including video, Reels, or Stories), indicate that more is better for engagement.

You might find that using fewer Instagram hashtags works better if you are trying to reach niche communities because the potential interest from wider tag usage might not translate into actual niche traffic for your website. However, in this case, sometimes more is better — a wider reach means that your updates will be seen by more people, even those who aren’t interested, and could potentially grow your brand recognition.

You’ll need to experiment to find what works for your needs.

It might be worth testing and looking at your own results. On the other hand, if you have been successful with fewer Instagram hashtags, you may not need to make any changes.

Read Later’s complete Instagram hashtag study here.

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Author: Pam Hughes

Follow @_pamhughes

Pam Hughes is a Forbes Top-25 Social Media Influencer (known as Pam Dyer at the time). She helps people and organizations stand out from the crowd by generating and maintaining brand awareness through inbound digital marketing strategy and execution. Pam has deep experience across social media marketing, branding, content marketing,… View full profile ›

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