How many hashtags should you use on Instagram?

Woman holding hashtag cut out

How many hashtags should you use on Instagram?

If Instagram is part of your business’ social media strategy you’ve probably got a million things running through your mind. Is there a trick to making popular Reels? What should you post on Stories? And how is the algorithm affecting your visibility on the platform? Underlying all of this is the good old hashtag and that enduring question: what is the best number to use so your valuable content is seen.

Instagram is a social media channel that was born into the world of hashtags, which made their first appearance on Twitter back in 2007. They quickly became the go-to way for people to find the content they were interested in so they could view it, interact with it and maybe even re-share it.

While adding more than a handful of hashtags to a tweet looks a bit spammy, Instagram gave its users the ability to include up to 30 in its image captions right from its inception.

But are they all necessary?

How many hashtags is OK on Instagram?

According to social media scheduling platform Hootsuite, the most common number of hashtags people add to their Instagram posts is between one and three. This gets these posts on average 12.6% more engagement than if they’d not used a hashtag at all.

So, it’s a no-brainer to use hashtags. But does adding six hashtags mean 25% more engagement and so on?

Not necessarily. It’s the type of hashtag that matters.

Types of hashtag

Your choice of hashtags is really important and there are millions to choose from.

They mostly fall under these categories:

  • Product or object description – #soap #flower #FoldingChair
  • Industry – #health #fitness #transport
  • Community – #beauticians #pilots #londoners
  • Events and seasons – #olympics #OctoberFest #SummerHolidays
  • Location – #southampton #england #UK
  • Daily – #friyay #MondayMotivation #HumpDay
  • Campaign and brand – #ShareACoke #EarthHour #StrictlyComeDancing

Some will trend every day, while others will be popular at certain times of the year or for a short period of time.

Being aware of what’s trending and what’s not will make your posts more visible. But get the balance wrong and your post could be swallowed up in an avalanche of similar content.

So which hashtags should you use and, importantly, how many?

There are different arguments all over the internet. Some social media gurus will say use all 30 hashtags when you post to your Instagram feed. Others will say 11 tags is the sweet spot.

They can’t all be right. So what does Instagram say about hashtags?

Relevance is the key

In August 2021, Instagram said: “Use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions for a post to be found in search…”.

So, it’s not the number that’s important. It’s how they relate to your content and your audience.

In the same blog post, Instagram talks about the popularity of posts. The more people who like what you’re sharing the more visible your posts will become in their search results.

This is why relevance is so important. If you post a picture of a purple cat and use the hashtag #OrangeCat people are less likely to engage with your post as it was not what they were looking for.

The knock-on effect is that Instagram will show your posts to fewer people.

What this means for your hashtag strategy is that the number doesn’t matter. You just need to make sure every single one is super relevant.

If you want to get help with your business’ Instagram account Amplify PR is a Southampton PR and marketing agency that specialises in social media strategy. Get in touch to find out more about our digital content services.