How many hashtags on Instagram is just too many?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Generally, the response will depend on what kind of campaigns you’re running, and the sort of audience you’re trying to reach.
What we do know for definitely are that there are rules you need to follow if you’re using hashtags on Instagram. After all, they’re some of the most essential tools you have when it comes to increasing engagement and earning the attention of your target audience.
A post with just one Instagram hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement, so hacking your hashtag strategy is something you need to take seriously.
Why Instagram Hashtags are Crucial to Your Success
Before we begin looking at how many hashtags on Instagram is the right amount for you, let’s cover the basics of why hashtags are so essential in the first place.
There are about 1 billion monthly users on Instagram, which means that you have countless potential customers to reach out to. However, millions of users also mean millions of photos to browse through each day – an average of about 40 billion to be exact.
Throwing a picture out into the Instagram world and expecting your audience to find it is a lot like dropping a pebble into the ocean and asking your friend to retrieve it for you.
Instagram hashtags are how you pinpoint that post for your target audience, making it easier for them to track down your business and content.
Just like with Twitter and Facebook, hashtags work to categorize and organize the content you publish online. Here are the rules you need to know:
- You can have up to 30 hashtags per standard post (including captions and comments)
- Stories have a limit of 10 hashtags per Story
- Punctuation marks and spaces will break your hashtag
- You can use numbers in Instagram hashtags
- There are specific hashtags you should never use (spammy and broken tags)
- People can now follow hashtags
- You can tag your location in any post
How Many Hashtags on Instagram do You Need?
Alright, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s get to the nitty-gritty.
How many hashtags on Instagram should you be using?
Well, as you know, you can use up to 30 tags per post, but that doesn’t mean you should be using that amount. Studies from TrackMaven found that Instagram accounts with 1,000 followers or fewer typically get the most engagement with around 5 hashtags.
Other studies suggest that 9 hashtags is a better number – particularly if you’re sharing a bigger caption, or hiding your tags in your comments. What’s more, there’s even research out there that indicates you should be posting somewhere around 11 hashtags per post.
No-one can answer how many hashtags on Instagram is too many.
The truth is that the only way to find out for sure what you should be using is to conduct some tests, review your results, and use analytics to find your magic number. Ultimately, you need to work out what kind of strategy performs best based on your:
- Target audience
- Posting frequency
- Type of content
If your audience is young Gen Z creative types, for instance, they’ll be more likely to expect plenty of hashtags and emojis in your posts. On the other hand, if you’re an established company like Nike, you’re not going to need nearly as many hashtags to stand out.
Instagram Insights and other handy tools can give you a better insight into the number and type of tags that work best for you.
However, if you want to make the most of your Instagram campaigns, you’re going to need a strategy that combines quality and quantity.
Quantity and Quality: Which Hashtags to Use in your Post
Since the question of how many hashtags on Instagram is too complicated to answer outright, the best thing we can do is show you how to develop a tagging strategy.
Remember, it’s not just the number of hashtags you use that matters – but the quality of those tags too.
Using a lot of irrelevant hashtags is a good way to make sure that you get slapped by the Instagram algorithm. Additionally, your audience will begin to lose interest in you as it will seem as though you’re just desperate for attention.
So, how can you improve your chances of success?
Step 1: Do Some Research
Research is critical when deciding how many hashtags on Instagram is too many.
I’d recommend spending at least a few hours before you launch your campaign looking at things like:
- Market research: The studies and graphs available on the market today might be contradictory, but they do give you some fundamental insights into where you can get started. If you know that the best number of tags is 5, 9, or 11, then you can try a post with all of these options and see which performs best.
- Competitor research: The chances are that your competitors have already done a lot of work to figure out what appeals to an audience just like yours. Although your hashtag strategy might differ somewhat in the long-term, it’s likely to be similar to the campaigns your competitors use.
- Customer research: If you have any followers on your Instagram profile already, click through to their profiles and find out if they’re following any hashtags that might be relevant to you and your industry.
- Use the right tools: Kenji.AI is an Instagram bot powered by AI that can help you to track down hyper-targeted hashtags based on the kind of audience you want to reach. This can simplify your hashtag strategy and give you back more valuable time.
Step 2: Switch It Up
Using irrelevant hashtags is dangerous, but using too many of the same hashtag all of the time can be a serious problem also.
It’s essential to keep things diverse by using a wide range of different hashtags in every post. For instance, your average picture might feature:
- A branded hashtag that you use in every post: Nike’s #JustDoIt is a highly recognizable tag that helps to develop brand awareness and encourage user-generated content from followers. Choose a branded hashtag early and make sure you publish it on your profile.
- Trending hashtags: While it’s hard to rank on the Explore page for trending hashtags like #TBT and #InstaGood, these terms can also help you to connect with your audience on a deeper level. It’s worth throwing a few of them into your campaign at times.
- Niche hashtags: Don’t just post the same thing as everything else. Remember that the right hashtags will direct you towards a certain kind of audience. Use the tags your customers will specifically want to see, such as #PuggleLife, or #Pugswag for dog lovers.
If you’re not sure how to arrange your hashtags successfully, you can try the 10/10/10 strategy.
In other words, use 10 location-based hashtags, 10 general appeal hashtags, and ten general interest hashtags that you’ve gathered from across Instagram to attract as many potential followers as possible. This will give you more reach, but it will also mean that you run out of “fresh” tags to use pretty quickly.
Step 3: Find Out Which Hashtags Your Audience Is Using
Rather than spending too much time worrying about how many hashtags on Instagram is the right amount, you should be concentrating on how to engage your audience.
In other words, figure out what kind of tags your customers are using and learn how to speak their language. There are various ways you can do this.
For instance, typing a word into the Instagram search bar will give you a list of similar tags based on the word you want to find:
You can also check out what some of your followers are posting on their pictures when they’re sharing content with their friends. This will help you to tap into new hashtags that you might not have seen elsewhere. You can find out how much competition you have for any tag by searching for it on Instagram and looking at the number of posts.
Remember that it sometimes helps to look beyond Instagram for inspiration too. You can find people in Facebook groups that are relevant to your industry posting hashtags with their content. This could give you a good insight into some new tags to use.
Step 4: Preserve Your Aesthetic By Hiding Your Hashtags
Sometimes, when you’re just getting started on Instagram, it’s a good idea to publish posts with added hashtags. After all, more tags mean more opportunities to reach your audience.
The only problem is that including 30 tags in each of your photos can make them seem cluttered and messy. That’s not the kind of image you want to put across to your target audience. The good news is that you can always hide your tags in a comment instead.
Rather than including your tags in your caption, upload your photo as usual, and click on the speech bubble to leave a comment packed full of your favorite tags. The more comments you get, the faster your hashtags will disappear, but you’ll continue to benefit from extra visibility.
You can also hide your hashtags in your comments by entering a period or a dash several times, hitting return until you’ve covered 3 lines of space in the caption. This will hide your hashtags from sight until someone clicks on your content.
Don’t forget to add hashtags to your Instagram stories too! You can add a hashtag sticker with your branded tag on a crucial story page, then hide various other, less appealing tags underneath that sticker using the “font” option.
Step 5: Always Use The Most Valuable Tags First
Finally, when you do figure out how many hashtags on Instagram is the right number for you, make sure that you’re listing those tags correctly. Even if you’re only using 5 tags per post, there’s no guarantee that your audience is going to pay attention to every hashtag.
Placing your tags at the beginning of your caption can help to draw more attention to the terms you want your brand to be associated with, and any branded tags that you want your customers to share.
If you don’t necessarily need your audience to read or respond to any of your hashtags, then you can place them in any order that you like. Just keep in mind that the tags your audience sees first on your caption might be the ones they start linking to your business.
Another thing to remember is that if you do want your audience to see specific tags, make sure that you place them in your caption, and not in the comments.
How Many Hashtags on Instagram is Too Many?
Just as there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for creating the perfect Instagram campaign, there’s also no ultimate guide to the right number of hashtags to place on any post. Hashtags are a valuable part of your posting strategy, but the amount you need to use will differ depending on various factors, including the kind of campaign you’re running, and the audience you’re speaking to.
The best thing you can do to boost your chances of success is start experimenting. Decide on a few numbers that you’re going to try out, and make sure you measure your results using Instagram Insights. Track the amount of engagement, likes, and clicks you get depending on the number of hashtags you use. This will guide you towards a magic number that’s perfect for your brand.
Remember, if you ever need help improving your hashtag strategy on Instagram, you can always try turning to the intelligent algorithm here at Kenji.AI. We’ll help you to find the ideal hashtags for your campaigns, without putting your profile at risk! Click here to find out more.