How many hashtags should I use on Instagram?
Updated: Apr 7
New to using Instagram for your business?
Not entirely sure what hashtags are?
Not sure how many hashtags to use in your posts?
Well, I will aim to answer these questions and more in this post.
What are hashtags?
On Instagram, hashtags are how people find content. Therefore, it's important that you use hashtags that are relevant to your post and your audience!
Hashtags are only really for people who don't follow you to be able to find your content. Followers, assuming they haven't muted you (so they don't see your content) will see your posts even if you don't add any hashtags.
So hashtags are really a means to get reach outside of your followers. To increase your followers and audience and to ensure your content is found by those who are interested in your content.
Should I use hashtags?
Absolutely! As mentioned above, hashtags are how people find content on Instagram. If you post without hashtags, then the only way someone will see your post is if they are either following you or come across your profile and browse through your content that way.
If it is your intention to grow your audience, and if you're a small business owner, I'm sure that is indeed your goal, then ensure you include hashtags on EVERY single post you make!
How do I decide which hashtags to use?
There are various ways in which you can research which hashtags you should use, including:
Websites. There are a few websites that you can use which will provide a list of hashtags based on a keyword you enter. So for example, you would enter #virtualassistant and the website will recommend related hashtags to this. Simply search "Instagram hashtag generator" on Google or your preferred search engine.
Apps. There are apps available for iOS and Android that do the same thing as the websites mentioned above. Search the Appstore for 'hashtag generator'.
Competitors. Take a look on Instagram and look at what hashtags other accounts in your space are using. Ie, if you are a virtual assistant, find other virtual assistants that are doing well on Instagram and take a look at which hashtags they are using in their posts!
Your own research. Assuming you have identified your ideal client, consider which hashtags those clients would be looking at/searching for. For example, my ideal client is a small business owner, therefore I use several hashtags around small businesses. Eg #smallbusinessuk #smallbizuk #smallbusinesowner etc. If your ideal client is a solicitor, then throw in some hashtags around that so that when they search for those hashtags of interest, your content is shown.
Use a mixture of high, medium and low hashtags
If you were to create a list of purely high usage hashtags, then your content will very quickly be lost in the sheer number of posts using those hashtags. So your engagement will likely be low and mostly by your followers, rather than reaching new accounts.
My recommendation is that you use a ratio of 20-30-50 between High, Medium and Low ranking hashtags in your strategy to get the highest possible organic reach from your posts.
How many hashtags should I put on each post?
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.
There are some who proclaim that you shouldn't use 30 hashtags, however, I have done many tests on my own accounts and I definitely get my best results when using a maximum of 30 hashtags.
If you're struggling to find 30 hashtags, then use at least 20.
Can I use the same set of hashtags for each post?
My own tests and research I've seen by others suggest that if you use exactly the same hashtag set on every post, Instagram seems to restrict the reach of your posts.
I tested this on my photography account for a week and my reach and engagement dropped by almost 50% by the end of the week!
So I definitely recommend that you switch things up with your hashtags for each post. And by switching things up, I don't mean simply reordering the same hashtags, I mean using different hashtags.
Ideally, you want to have a pool of 50 - 60 hashtags (10/12 high, 15/18 medium, 25/30 low)
And then use a different set of 30 for each post you put out.
So to ensure you get as much organic reach for your posts, ensure to include hashtags in EVERY post you make. Use between 20-30 hashtags
Make sure you are posting at the optimal time of day when your audience is online. Have a look at this blog post for guidance on finding out when is the best time to post to your account.
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