Double your engagement with smarter hashtags

You probably know that posts with hashtags get more engagement. Quite a lot in fact. Posts with one or more hashtags average 12.6 per cent more engagement than posts without a hashtag, according to research by Simply Measured. Hashtags are an easy way to get more reach and engagement, with virtually no extra effort.

Choosing specific tags will help you connect with other like-minded people on Instagram, and marketers agree they are bread and butter for best-practise Instagram use.

“Hashtags give audiences an organic way to discover branded content through the topics and forums that interest them.”Simply Measured Instagram Study.

Social media marketers can take advantage of hashtags to increase their reach as long as they choose hashtags carefully and don’t overuse them. On the other hand, failing to use hashtags makes Instagram like a private network; you'll only reach people already connected to your page. A well chosen hashtag helps put your content in front of people searching for keywords and phrases associated with your brand or business. People searching and in this curious mindset are exactly the people you and your brand want to be connecting with on social media!

All of this begs the question, how can I optimise hashtag use for maximum engagement? Here's our guide to doing just that.

Use 1-3 hashtags in your captions. No more.

Savvy marketers avoid using too many hashtags in photo captions. At the very least use your brand hashtag(s) which are relevant to the post. Only add hashtags to captions if they feel organic and don't interrupt the natural flow of the text. Using too many makes a post looked cluttered, and takes away from the awesome content you are posting. Most of all, too many hashtags in follower faces makes people switch off and stop reading.

Use up to 15 hashtags by commenting.

A smart way to boost reach without negatively affecting how a post is displayed is to post hashtags as a comment, immediately after you publish. Instagram is nice and adds your commented hashtags to your post, but the text doesn't show up in your followers feed (yes, you can have your donut and eat it too!) Here's an example.

Bad Example

Source: @gemnesis

Good example

Source: @thedonutfeed

You can have as many as 30 hashtags in total for each post, but we feel going beyond 15 is pushing things too far. It is difficult to get data to back this up however, because the cost is not in engagement, it's in brand image and sentiment, so you'll have to take our word for it.

Find and use hashtags that will get you visibility

Using hashtags is one thing, using the right hashtags is another thing entirely. The two most important things you should consider when choosing a hashtag are (1) How relevant is this to my post and my brand? (2) How much added visibility can this hashtag give my post?

If you want to post a shot of a particularly tasty donut, you could tag #donut (3.3 million+ posts), but you could also tag #donutdaily (55,000+ posts) or #donutsarelife(55,000+ posts) to reach the serious donut aficionados. The more specific the hashtag, the less spam and more higher quality images you'll find (in general).

Overall, hashtags are a must, and they aren't hard to use. Being smart about it can bring extra engagement, reach and visibility at no extra cost.