The new study considers the optimal use of hashtags in posts on Instagram, based on 18 million examples

How many hashtags do you need to add to your Instagram posts to increase engagement?

The tips are different – previous studies have shown that less is better, while Instagram itself says that yyou should look to add 3 to 5 very relevant hashtags to get to the right communities.

Indeed, as with all social media, a lot depends on your specific audience and focus. But adding a little more attention to the mix, the Later team recently analyzed more than 18 million Instagram posts, especially (not including video, Reels or Stories) to measure the optimal use of the hashtag to increase engagement and reach.

Their key finding? More hashtags is definitely better, on both fronts.

First, at your fingertips – Luther’s study shows that posts with 20 hashtags see the highest average reach rate, while those with 30 hashtags are not too far behind.

This is consistent with Later’s previous research, as you can see in this comparison chart.

Later hashtag study

As for the engagement – ie. encouraging more likes and comments – it was later revealed that 30 hashtags generated the best results.

Later hashtag study

So, unlike Instagram’s advice on more limited use of hashtags, Luther’s study actually showed that more is much better. Which makes sense, given maximizing visibility by having your posts in multiple feeds and Explore lists. But it can also make your posts look cluttered – though insights here would suggest that it’s not as important to users as it might seem.

So what should you go with? Well, there is no definitive answer, because, again, it will be largely reduced to your unique audience and what they react to and what you are trying to achieve with your posts.

If you’re trying to connect with very specific communities, fewer hashtags may be better, because the interest you could potentially gain from using tags more widely may not lead to real traffic to your site. But again, maybe more is better, because a wider reach would mean that you’re more likely to show your updates to more real people, even if you reach more disinterested users.

It will take experimentation to determine what works for you – and as can be seen from the various recommendations, there is probably no one right answer for everyone. But in this case, based on a wide range of posts (again, not including videos, reels or stories), it seems that it is better to be engaged.

It might be worth testing and examining your own results – and if you’ve avoided adding too many tags in the past, you may not need to refrain so much.

You can read Later’s complete Instagram hashtag study here.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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