Our Top Instagram Hashtag Best Practices

Different marketing blogs have a lot of differing opinions about the optimal number of hashtags to use in Instagram posts. 

Do you use all 30? Do you keep it to a handful of tailored hashtags? Do you use half the available hashtags?

It can be so confusing and frustrating. 

We’ve done our research and here are our tips and best practices to help you improve your Instagram hashtag strategy, including how many you should use.

Is There a Magic Number of Instagram Hashtags?

While Instagram gives you a maximum of 30 hashtags, the platform actually recommends using 3 to 5 hashtags per post. 

Why? It’s the platform’s way of encouraging users to employ more tailored, high-quality hashtags to reduce spam. In other words, less is more. It can also give you more reliable self-categorization. 

But this can be really limiting if your goal is to increase your followers. 

So our tip is to find the right number for the goal you want to reach. If you want to increase your followers, use between 15 to 30 hashtags. If you want to increase engagement, we recommend using between 5 and 10 hashtags. 

Best Practices for Instagram Hashtags

Now let’s dive into a few best practices that will help you hone your hashtag strategy.

1 | Find Your Core Hashtags

Because Instagram recommends using 3 to 5 hashtags, decide on your core group of 5 hashtags. These are the hashtags that you’ll most likely use on nearly every post and are used to target your core audience specifically. 

Each brand’s core hashtags will be different. But to help you figure out which hashtags are best for your core set, do some research on different hashtags using a tool like the one your social scheduler may have or a free third party tool such as Hashtag Tracker. You can also try A/B testing two slightly different sets of core hashtags to see which performs better.

2 | Consider the Different Types of Hashtags

Don’t forget to also consider the types of hashtags as you decide on your core 5 plus any other relevant hashtags you may want to use in a specific post. The 5 main types of hashtags are: location, branded (specific to your brand), industry (business niche), community (a specific group of people), and descriptive (the content of your actual post).

While there’s no secret formula for how many of each type you should use, keeping them in mind can provide inspiration for your hashtag strategy.

3 | Keep an Eye on What’s Trending

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what is trending on the platform. When you go to the Explore page in Instagram, it will populate top performing posts based on a hashtag. So search one of your relevant hashtags here. Then click on some of the posts that have clearly hit the algorithm right, and study their hashtags. Take note of the different hashtags being used in these posts and whether some of these might work for you. 

4 | Understand How Volume Could Affect Your Brand

Some hashtags are much more popular than others. When a specific hashtag has been used in millions of posts, it’s easy for your post to be drowned out by the masses. On the other hand, hashtags with only a few hundred uses means users aren’t searching for that on the Instagram Explore page. To not get drowned out or lost in the shadows, try to hit the middle ground and aim for using hashtags with 10K to 20K posts. To check a hashtag’s volume, simply search it on the Explore page; the volume will show up under the hashtag.

5 | Captions or Comments?

The platform has confirmed that hashtags are effective both in your post caption and in the comments section. So it’s really up to you where you want to share them. Just remember to consider timeliness. If you are posting hashtags in the comment section, make sure you do this as soon as your post is published. Some schedulers allow you to add a “first comment” that goes live at the same time as your post. 

Key Takeaways

There is no general or generic magic number for hashtags on Instagram. The number you use may vary depending on the type of post you are sharing. It could also depend on your marketing goals. Each brand’s hashtag strategy will be unique to their company and their goals. So don’t be afraid to test out different hashtags to see what works for you. But this isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of deal. Be sure to keep an eye on your analytics. When your hashtags are no longer working as well, it’s time to switch it up again. 

Need help with your Instagram strategy? Tintero offers digital strategies that help tell your brand’s story in a way that works with your industry, digital trends, and marketing best practices. Schedule your free consultation today!