Instagram’s most recent algorithm comes as a response to negative user feedback -- you will note that things will start to feel more timely on your feed. While not returning to the desired chronological feed, the platform is striving toward finding a balance between chronological content and relevance.
Now, what does this mean for hashtags on the platform? As most of you know, hashtags are an essential part of getting your posts seen. We are here to update you on the hashtag rules for 2018 to help you meet your marketing goals and grow your business.
Where should you place your hashtags?
Since the beginning of Instagram’s time, there has been a debate surrounding where you should be placing your hashtags. Should they be included in the caption of your photo, or placed as a comment? While there is not a right answer, here are the pros and cons for each option, depending on your needs.
There have been reports that placing your hashtags as a comment can cause a delay in your post’s appearance in the search for a used hashtag, therefore potentially decreasing your post’s engagement. While your post might look cleaner by posting hashtags as a comment, we recommend you place your hashtags within the caption to avoid any penalty from the Instagram algorithm, especially if you work with multiple clients. If a cleaner look is important to you or your client, we recommend testing out both of these posting methods to see which one performs best.
Which hashtags you should use?
Your hashtags should be on brand and specifically tailored to your post. If you are a wine brand, for example, you might consider using #wine. While it is a great option that has been used more than 37.9 million times, your post might get lost in the crowd since the demographic is too wide. By using something like #oregonwine, which only has 74,000 uses, or #pinotnoirrose, which only has 2,700 uses, you are more likely to find users who want to engage with your content, because it’s what they’re actually looking for.
There are millions of hashtags to choose from, so you should do some research to see what other users, influencers or competitors are using. Keep in mind that you should avoid using the same hashtags on each post. This could lead the Instagram algorithm to believe that you are a spam account.
We recommend creating a document with a complete list of hashtags to choose from for each post and pulling those which are unique to each piece of content. After you create your list of preferred hashtags, you should then test them out on your posts to see what performs best.
How many hashtags you should use?
The Instagram algorithm is constantly looking to weed out spam accounts on the platform. It’s been reported that, due to this effort, some accounts have been shadowbanned, which essentially hides your Instagram posts from users who do not follow you and leads to a decrease in Instagram engagement.
While Instagram allows users to post up to 30 hashtags for each post, we do not recommend doing so, because it can make your account feel “spammy.”
Remember, hashtags allow you to better reach your target audience, attract new followers and establish your brand image. Therefore, the hashtags you use do need to follow Instagram algorithm best practices to avoid a decrease in Instagram engagement, but ultimately your hashtags need to be an extension of your overall branding strategy.