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New insights reveal that Instagram hashtags don’t really increase post engagement

Should you be using hashtags on Instagram? Keep reading to find out.

It’s no secret that we’ve all added random hashtags to our posts, thinking it would lead to more likes and a few extra views but recently, Instagram Chief Adam Mosseri debunked this common myth by stating on his Instagram stories that hashtags don’t actually make that much of a difference, which stirred things up on the social media scene.

His ‘less is more’ answer makes more sense once you begin to understand that hashtags were not created to help distribute your post on others’ feed but rather to categorize and organize content in order facilitate the process for users who are looking for a specific type of posts. However, we still feel the need to ask: do they really not make any difference?

Luckily, Social Insider‘s team did some digging and came up with answers to our questions. 75,361,233 Instagram posts published between March 2021 and March 2022 were analyzed to try and find the link between hashtags and Instagram posts and you know data doesn’t lie!

In the following graph, the digits make it clear that the number of hashtags used does not make a significant difference in the average engagement rate or reach. Also, as we might expect, the highest average engagement rate by impressions (3.41%) is generated by posts with 3-4 hashtags; Instagram had already stated that using 3-5 hashtags is the ultimate method that should be adopted if or when you want to use them.

Credits: Social Insider

That’s not all; a further analysis that focuses on studying the correlation between the number of hashtags used and the impressions according to the number of followers has shown that the more big accounts (between 50K and 1M followers) see a decrease in the impression rates when the number of hashtags increases.

This noticeable decrease is not as visible for smaller accounts; however, it is still recommended for them to keep their hashtags limited to 5 or 6 hashtags for increased engagement.

Credits: Social Insider

Finally and above all, what’s important is for users to know which 5 or 6 hashtags would work best for their audience. In order to do so, influencers or brands are required to do some research to determine which topics their followers are searching for on the app before choosing a set of hashtags (which should be different for each post!) that would help optimize their posts and give them the attention they deserve.