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Instagram posts with at least one hashtag receive 14.6% more engagement than those without. Hashtags may sound like fashion, but they are crucial to your business and your online presence. 

Using them on your Instagram posts has been proven to increase reach, attract new audiences to your profile, create greater engagement, and increase brand recognition… and this gain in exposure can translate into more customers and revenue later on. So, here is a description of what an Instagram hashtag is, what it does, and how you should use them.

What is an Instagram hashtag?

An Instagram hashtag is basically a tag that classifies photos and videos. The hashtag adds them to a collection of other content (with the same hashtag), so that users can find, explore, and since a 2019 update, the hashtags can now also be followed, making content tagged with the correct hashtags be much more visible.

How many hashtags should you use?

Instagram allows to use a maximum of 30 hashtags on each post. You can also place them elsewhere. When it comes to how many hashtags you should use, there are hundreds of different opinions. Some people tell you to use the maximum of 30 in each post, others say that you should only use 7, other articles suggest the use of 21, 2, 5…… almost all numbers under 30 have been suggested as the optimal number, and each of them is correct.

Why? Each individual post, profile, brand, and company requires a different number of hashtags. Whatever number you choose to test (always test), make sure the hashtags you use are super relevant. Don’t fill up to 30 just for the sake of doing it, and don’t use 1 or 2 because you’re too lazy to think more.

How to use Instagram hashtags

You have to find the best hashtags; while using the same ones over and over again is not the way to go. Hashtag posts on Instagram ranking use two metrics:

  • The level of engagement: how many times you have liked and commented.
  • The speed at which engagement was achieved: How quickly your post received their likes and comments.

If you’re just starting out, have a small audience (less than 5k), or are posting something that is not viral in quality, DO NOT target the most popular hashtags.

You can use a few, while trying to gain traction with less used hashtags. These hashtags have less competition and can have much more engaged, but where can you find them?

Start by looking for relevant ‘trending’ hashtags. The trends may be short-lived, but they attract masses of commitment and interest. If you can earn comments and ‘likes’ in a short space of time from these ‘trends’, you will rise higher in the ranking of the most popular Instagram hashtags.

Another strategy is to use ultra-specific hashtag. These followers are engaged, they have an interest in your industry, and there is less competition. You may have a smaller potential reach by using hashtags like these, but your final actual reach should be much higher.