Hashtags have evolved and with the current changes to the Instagram platform, due to its merger and its acquisition from Facebook. The hashtag strategy that we've used previously may have changed, and it's important for you to be up to date with the new school on hashtags.
Instagram uses hashtags to tag content, so it knows which category it should fall into allowing users to search for relevant content. It's looking for people to be engaged with relevant content. This is the same principle that Facebook strives for.
Recently Instagram introduced a rule to help its users find content relevant to the hashtags they searched on by punishing people who use generic and spammy hashtags so it has introduced a new rule called the Shadow Ban, where your content can be banned if you're using lots and lots of irrelevant, very generic hashtags - things like #inspiration, #instagram, or #picoftheday. These tags used to be popular, but now, they're too generic. They're not really telling the user exactly what they're looking for.
Instagram would rather, if you want to get really targeted with people, that you use the advertising and its promotional side of the platform to target the right audience than just trying to spam everyone from hashtags.
Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use any hashtags. It just means that you now need to be a bit smarter about what you're going to do.
Now, the next question is where the hashtags should go,?
Whether they should go in the post copy or whether they should go in the first comment underneath. To be honest, Instagram will read these wherever you place them as long as they are posted at the same time. It's entirely up to you. Some people find that it looks better to put them into the first comment just because you won't see them and you can read the text far clearer. But just remember, if anybody's really looking around your Instagram account, they can see them so even if it’s in the first comment – you can still see all 30 tags!
Which takes us to the question – how many hashtags should you use?
You can use up to 30 hashtags on a post. If your Instagram account is about creating an authentic, or an experience with your brand, just think about how it's going to look if your posts or your comments are covered in hashtags. It can look a little bit spammy, and it can look a little bit desperate. So a good rule for brands is to decide how many tags they actually want to use as part of their own branding — and what they think looks appropriate to them. I would say, going anywhere between five to 15 hashtags can still look professional. Anything where you're going up to 30 hashtags can start to look a little bit insta-desperate, but it does work in terms of increasing your reach, your relevance. The choice is yours!
Now, which hashtag should you use?
Well, let's start to think about what people would be looking for, or interested in, in that post and your business. You want to find some of the top-ranking hashtags within that business. Here is a link that will take you to a hashtag search we use to help find the most relative and useful tags at the moment.
With hashtags, you will also need to test your hashtag strategy. It's all fine saying, "Okay, well, my brand's going to put five tags on it. They're going to be these tags," but then your engagement rates on Instagram start to fall…even though you think the strategy's solid. It's really important that you test different tags to different audiences and different times of the day — much like you would do when testing a Facebook post — to see that you have the right hashtag strategy for your content.
Hashtags on Facebook?
Okay, Facebook introduced hashtags as a way of being able to search for content that we were looking for. This, however, has not been widely used on the Facebook platform, with most people still tending to preference just the search function. Posts that have a lot of hashtags brought over from Instagram also tend to be a little bit lower in reach. They look a little bit spammy, and it doesn't look as professional if you share your content over from Instagram, and onto your Facebook page arrives those 30 hashtags that you popped in.
So make sure, if you are sharing content over from Instagram to Facebook, that you delete the hashtags, and it looks nice and sharp and professional. Remember, hashtags are not as relevant on Facebook, so you don't need to tag all of your content to be found. Facebook is far more likely to share you and show you if your content is great, not by the hashtags that you are using.