Here’s A Shocker – Instagram Hashtags Don’t Work

Instagram hashtags don't work, a post on the Music 3.0 music industry blog

The prevailing wisdom on Instagram has always been that if you want your posts to reach more people, then you have to use hashtags. The suggested number to use has always been different from year to year though, and for a while that was the major question – how many hashtags should I use for most post engagement? Now a new report and even comments from the platform’s chief himself has basically shot the whole concept down. Instagram hashtags don’t work, at least not the way you think.

The Report

For the longest time the thing that experts argued over was if 5 or 13 or even more hashtags meant that your post would receive a wider reach and distribution. But after Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that hashtags don’t really help views, the team at Socialinsider went to work and analyzed over 75 million Instagram posts published between March 2021 and March 2022 in order to see what the data says about the relationship between Instagram hashtags and post views.

What they found was that the number of hashtags an Instagram post uses does not influence the post’s distribution.

It turns out that the highest average engagement rate by impressions (3.41%) is generated by posts with 3-4 hashtags, which isn’t all that much. Posts with large number of hashtags actually have their impression count go down.

Why Even Bother?

So what are Instagram hashtags good for anyway? They were originally intended for categorizing content to better connect users with what they’re looking for. That means that they’re still important, but the quality of the hashtag is more important than the quantity. You want to make sure that the tags that you use are targeted to your audience.

Vanity hashtags like “iwannachocolatemilkshake” or “ihateworktoday” never were good for anything but making the poster feel better. They’re basically a waste of characters. Don’t even consider using one.

They are still useful though, so don’t throw away those hashtags completely. Choose a few wisely and use them sparingly to get the most out of them.


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