Instagram hashtags—will they ever stop shapeshifting? When using this popular platform, it is important to keep in mind that Instagram is constantly adding and removing features (now faster than ever), so it is vital to stay on top of new developments in order to keep your business account trending.
Thankfully, they don’t leave us completely in the dark. There have recently been some more insights revealed into the changing role of Instagram hashtags, including some new guidelines explained here by the official Instagram creator’s account itself and some very savvy breakdowns of the intel: Instagram LEAKS How Hashtags Actually Work (not how you think).
All things considered, it is safe to say that the role of hashtags is changing and you’re going to want to update your strategy a bit to get the most out of them. Let’s take a closer look.
Instagram hashtag must-do tips
Some best practices for Instagram hashtags remain pretty stable. But we all need a little refreshed from time to time, right? Here are some words of wisdom to adhere to.
Use hashtags relevant to your niche
It is not worth it to risk your profile’s or your brand’s credibility with misleading hashtags in the attempt to attract a few random views. You’ll end up getting found by your target followers if you keep on choosing the most relevant hashtags.
Do check which hashtags your fans already follow
A great way to do this is by simply asking followers to share ideas with you using a Q&A sticker.
Image: Hubspot on Instagram
Find the right mix of specific and general
You should always include one or two “longtail” hashtags (example: #automatednewslettermarketing). If we only use #automation #newsletter and #marketing, it is quite broad and, as there are a lot of other posts with that hashtag, you are likely to get lost in the sauce. A perfect combination includes a few very specific and rare hashtags and a few more popular ones.
Image: GANDT Instagram
Things to avoid with Instagram hashtags
Using too many
Although it is important to figure out what works for you—now more than ever it is important to use your hashtags wisely. Up until this point, everyone was aware that there was a strict limit of 30 hashtags per post. But now, the recommendation seems to have shifted, and creators are starting to experiment to test the algorithm. The new recommendation from Instagram is 3-5 per post.
If you use too many hashtags or really broad ones, you will confuse the algorithm and will get pushed to the end of the line.
Put hashtags in the caption rather than in a comment section
This one is important! It’s really beneficial to put hashtags in the caption and avoid putting them in the first comment. This is the best option for better search engine optimization.
The NEW purpose of hashtags
In Instagram’s words, they are “trying to predict what content you might like the most.”
“Our aim is to bring the Reels recommendation algorithm over to the other features of Instagram. Think of a hashtag as a tool that provides context about your post and supports delivering content to people who are interested in a particular topic.”
Hashtags are now being used to train the algorithms for premier recommendations. They are going away from hashtags being just a traffic source to actually using the information they give them to recommend you on other places, like the explore page.
That is a meaningful connection to be aware of!
By attaching irrelevant hashtags to your content, you could end up with all the hashtags on your post being labeled as irrelevant by the algorithm.
Final things to keep in mind
Some final tips from our social media whizz team at GANDT, Stephanie Gerfin and Sharon Livain, include:
- Check if your post matches with other posts under that hashtag, does it look similar?
- By using fewer hashtags and being more specific, people searching by hashtags will get better, more relevant results—which means they are happier and stay longer on the platform and engage more deeply with your content.
- Speaking of content, you should keep in mind that the quality of the content will also impact how high you rank. So you can’t rely on hashtags alone.
- Don’t forget to use some hashtags in your Stories, Reels, and IGTVs (not in the description). If it helps the algorithm show your content to people who are interested, the hashtag feature for these types of content might be valuable.
- Depending on your branding, you can try using hashtags in the text itself, rather than only at the end. But you need to be careful not to overdo it; otherwise, it gets hard to read the content.