New Study Delves into Ideal Instagram Feed Posts Hashtag Usage
To get the most engagement from your Instagram posts, how many hashtags should you use?
Previous research has shown that using fewer hashtags is beneficial, whereas Instagram also recommends using 3 to 5 highly relevant hashtags to reach the correct communities.
Like anything else in social media, a lot depends on your target demographic and focus. But, to add a bit more thought to the mix, the team at Later recently made an analysis of over 18 million Instagram feed posts (excluding video, Reels, and Stories) to determine the best hashtag usage for generating engagement and reach.
And their most important discovery? On both counts, more hashtags are preferable.
To begin with, in terms of reach, according to Later's research, posts with 20 hashtags have the highest average reach rate, whereas those 30 hashtags aren't far off.
As seen in this comparison graph, this is completely in line with Later's earlier study.
Later discovered that 30 hashtags produced the highest results in terms of engagement — that is, encouraging more likes and comments.
In contrast to Instagram's own advice to use fewer hashtags, Later's research indicated that using more was much better. Which is understandable, given that putting your posts into more Explore feeds and listings would increase their discoverability. However, it can make your postings appear cluttered - though the data suggests that this isn't as much of a concern for users as it may appear.
So, which route should you take? Well, there isn't a concrete answer because it will primarily depend on your audience and what they react to, as well as what you're attempting to accomplish with your posts.
If you're looking to connect with a specific group of people, it's possible that using fewer hashtags will be more effective, as the attention generated by using more tags may not translate in substantial traffic to your site. But, on the other hand, perhaps more is better, because a wider reach means you're more likely to contact more of the right people, even if you also reach more indifferent users.
It'll take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you, and as the many suggestions show, there's likely no one-size-fits-all solution. However, based on a wide variety of feed postings (again, excluding video, Reels, or Stories), it appears that more is better for interaction in this case.
It might be worth experimenting and reviewing your own results - and if you've previously avoided adding too many tags, you might not need to do so as much now.
The full Instagram hashtag study by Later may be found here.