Where Should You Use Instagram Hashtags – in the Post or Comments?
Posted at Jun 15, 2018 5:01:34 PM by Nathan Mendenhall | Share
As of late, Instagram has done some tweaking of their algorithm, which is making competition for visibility on the platform much tougher. According to our Facebook connections, this is a deliberate move to help reduce the spammy and less relevant behavior of certain Instagram accounts.
With this algorithm change has come a fad of people trying to get fancy with hashtag placement in order to game the system. While trying different tactics is always recommended, we need to be clear that managing a personal Instagram account is much different than managing a brand account. What works for the fun food images on your personal Instagram account may not work the same way for the law firm’s business profile that you are trying to build.
The trend of putting the hashtags in the comments came about as a way to keep Instagram captions looking clean, but then soon people realized that hashtags in comments were also discoverable by Instagram’s algorithms. From there, those rascally “growth hackers” decided the hottest tactic to trick the system is to swap out and edit your hashtags to surface your content for more terms. Exhausting, especially if you have to work at scale!
So, what is a marketer to do? As with all things in digital marketing, it's best to not make assumptions. We should let data inform the strategy and tactics we use!
I came across a great study that analyzed the content performance of Instagram posts when the hashtags are placed in the post compared to when hashtags are placed in the comments.
The study analyzed 117 posts from 3 accounts with a total of 13,700 Instagram Followers. Of this sample size, 51 posts included posts with hashtags in the comments and 66 posts contained hashtags in the original post. Each post in this study contained 30 hashtags.
After a 30-day period, the data was analyzed:
Posts with Hashtags in the Post:
60.64 Average Likes per Post
2.84 Average Comments per Post
2.72 Average Profile Visits per Post
66 Average Reach per Post
Posts with Hashtags in the Comments:
55.21 Average Likes per Post
3.39 Average Comments per Post
2.88 Average Profile Visits per Post
51 Average Reach per Post
Well, the proof is in the pudding!
Including hashtags in the post resulted in 9.84% more Likes and 29.4% more Reach. Placing the hashtags in the comments resulted in 19.3% more comments for some strange reason.
Placing hashtags in the Instagram post resulted in 18% better content performance metrics. While this might seem like a slim margin, you must consider the extra time and steps it would take to go back and remember to add comments into your posts comments.
At the end of the day, you should follow your heart on which approach works best for your Instagram account. However, the data tells us which is clearly better!
Speaking of social media data, download this ROI calculator to help demonstrate the value your social media marketing efforts add to the bottom line: