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How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Even though Instagram recently shared that 3-5 hashtags are all you need per post, we've been taking a different approach at Media À La Carte - and it's been paying off in BIG ways.

We're breaking down what Instagram recommends, and why we've been doing things differently.

Instagram's New Guidance on Hashtags

As Instagram likes to do, they shared new guidance via their @creators account. It seems like the @creators account has become our main source of Instagram news for the last couple of years. According to Instagram, below are things you should do with hashtags:

  1. Do use hashtags that are relevant to the theme of your content.

  2. Do check which hashtags your fans already use and follow.

  3. Do mix well-known and niche hashtags to broaden your discoverability.

  4. Do use specific hashtags so your fans can easily search for your content. You can even create your own!

  5. Do keep the number of hashtags between 3-5.

Now, here are things you shouldn't do with hashtags according to Instagram.

  1. Don't use hashtags that have nothing to do with your content (e.g. #explorepage).

  2. Don't use overly generic hashtags -- these will make it harder for people to discover your content due to the volume of other people using the hashtags.

  3. Don't use too many hashtags -- adding 10 - 20 hashtags will not help you get additional distribution.

In this @creators post, Instagram also made it clear that hashtags are no longer for the sole purpose of reach, but instead, hashtags should be viewed as a tool for categorization. Instagram also shared that your content and the way people interact with it will affect the reach of your post more than hashtags you use. This makes it clear to us that Instagram is going to continue to prioritize keyword search more than ever to push posts in the algorithm, as opposed to hashtags.

How We're Approaching Hashtags

Well known social media scheduling company Later conducted research to test Instagram's "Do keep the number of hashtags between 3-5" guidance, specifically in regards to how hashtags will affect a post's reach. They looked at over 18 million Instagram feed posts and compared the number of hashtags used per post with average reach rates. Later's results did not align with Instagram's recent guidance. As the hashtag amount grew from 1 to 30, the post's reach grew 11%. This means that if an account with 10K followers uses all 30 hashtags, they would gain 1.1K more accounts reached per post. By looking at Later's research and our own impressive hashtag reach results since Instagram unveiled its guidance, it seems to make sense to keep using the 30 hashtags until there is a significant drop in reach.

We have still been taking advantage of all 30 hashtags on our posts and our clients posts. Check out this reach we got on a recent post below. And get this - this post WASN'T a reel. We certainly wouldn't have received this kind of reach with 3-5 hashtags.

If IG didn't want you to use 30 hashtags, they wouldn't let you use 30 hashtags. That's our agency's stance - and we're sticking to it.

What we're NOT sticking to is using all 30 hashtag slots without strategy. We curate groups of niche, targeted hashtags for our clients that are still getting incredible results. We aren't picking 30 hashtags that kind of sound like they relate to the brand.

See the difference?

If you want to learn what we know about hashtag strategy, check out our Hashtag Guide.

Normally, we highly recommend following any and all guidance from Instagram because when you ignore their guidance, your content typically gets docked by the algorithm. But with Later's research bolstering our belief, we're going to keep using the limit of 30 hashtags. If something changes, we'll make sure you're the first to know.

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