Do hashtags really increase the reach of your Instagram posts?
This might surprise you: The goal of Instagram hashtags isn’t necessarily to increase distribution — they are meant to categorize content so users can find what they’re looking for.
But that should improve reach, right? Is it true that hashtags don’t have any effect on post views?
To find out more, the Socialinsider team recently analyzed over 75 million Instagram posts between March 2021 and March 2022 to determine the relationship between Instagram hashtags and post views.
Their research shows that the number of hashtags on Instagram posts is not a factor in post distribution.
The graphic below shows no significant difference in engagement rates by impression values for the analyzed Instagram posts. This is despite the number of hashtags used.
Posts with 3-4 hashtags have the highest engagement rate (3.41%). This is not surprising — Instagram has noted previously that posts with 3-5 hashtags are the best way to distribute post content.
So, to answer the question, the number of hashtags you use doesn’t have any significant effect on reach.
Socialinsider wanted to dig deeper, so they added a parameter to ‘Follower count’ to ensure they looked at equal comparisons.
Their data shows that there aren’t significant differences in the average impression rate of Instagram posts when you look at the number of hashtags and followers together. However, there are some nuances depending on the nature of the profiles’ followers.
Big accounts (50K to 1M followers) have lower impression rates if they use more hashtags on Instagram. Therefore, large accounts should use at least 3-4 hashtags to maximize the chances of reaching the average engagement rate of 3.42%.
Small accounts with 5-10K followers also see decreased engagement when they use more hashtags. However, the difference is less. Small accounts should include fewer 5-6 hashtags to get the highest engagement rates.
This trend applies to mid-sized accounts with 10- 50K followers, which should use more than 5-6 hashtags for higher impression rates.
Indeed, all of this depends on your particular audience, the types of hashtags you use, and what goals you want to achieve. Still, according to this data and industry experts, hashtags on Instagram don’t aid in post distribution.
The real trick for getting your posts noticed by people who search for topics in the app is to use the right hashtags for your audience.
You’ll still reap the benefits of hashtag use if you do your research and determine the appropriate tags for each post based on its topic — and don’t use the same ones for every post!