How Not to Use Hashtags on Instagram
Are you using hashtags correctly on Instagram? First, let me clarify that this post is not specifically about hashtagging strategy or which hashtags to use, but common mistakes I see people making when they use hashtags on Instagram, or in other words, where people are putting hashtags on Instagram.
If you’ve committed any of these mistakes don’t despair, I’ve been guilty of doing some of these myself until I looked into it further and understood how hashtags work. Hashtags are the way content gets discovered on Instagram. You can use up to 30 hashtags with each post and I advise using all 30 of them, especially if you are not a celebrity or major brand with 10 million followers or more. With that in mind, you might think that the more places you put hashtags on Instagram the better. But let’s not get too carried away by hashtagging everything in sight. Let’s discuss the places people are unnecessarily putting hashtags on Instagram, aside from the post caption.
Mistake #1: Using Hashtags in Your Bio
Putting hashtags in your Instagram bio will not help your profile show up in a hashtag search. Hashtag searches on Instagram lead you to specific posts that have used a hashtag in its caption or first comment.
Furthermore, putting hashtags in your bio might actually drive people away from your bio and Instagram feed. There are only 3 clickable items on Instagram 1) the link in your bio, 2) an Instagram handle and 3) hashtags. So if you put hashtags in your bio, there’s a chance that someone could click on the hashtag and be directed away from your bio and to posts by other Instagram accounts using the aforementioned hashtag.
To get your profile discovered on Instagram, here’s what you can do instead:
Make sure you use keywords that relate to what you do in your Instagram name. For example, my Instagram name could simply be “Felicia Lin” but I have added the words “Social Media Coach” after my name, which makes my profile show up in a search of the words social media coach on Instagram.
Mistake #2: Using Hashtags in a Comment of Someone Else’s Post.
This will not help the hashtag in the comment to be associated with the post. By putting the hashtag in the comment, you’ll possibly send someone reading the comment to the hashtag posted in the comment, and then to see other posts associated with that hashtag.
There are two other things that I see people confused about when it comes to using hashtags on Instagram and where to put them.
1) Should You Post Your Hashtags in the Caption or Comment of a Post?
It doesn’t seem to matter much if you post hashtags in the caption or hashtag, as long as you post hashtags in the first comment within 30-60 seconds. The timing is key because if you are using highly popular hashtags that have millions of posts, your content will very quickly get buried in the feed. Also, hashtag ranks and where they are placed in the chronological feed is based on the time of the post and not the time that a hashtag was added. So it’s important to note that if you add hashtags to a post later, it will not give your post a new boost because as previously stated it is the time of the post that matters not the time that the hashtag was added.
If you are separating your hashtags into ones included in the original caption and ones in the first comment, you might want to consider putting the highly popular hashtags directly in the caption so that you post gets the immediate benefit of those highly popular hashtags right when you post. And if for some reason, you are delayed in posting hashtags in the first comment, you won’t lose the chance of being discovered through those highly popular hashtags.
However, the safest thing to do would probably be to put all of your hashtags in the original caption. You never know when Instagram might make some changes that could affect hashtags in comments. Also, according to a study by Agora Pulse, posts with hashtags in the original captions had a higher reach than posts with hashtags in the comments.
2) Is It Better to Use Less Hashtags (0-3) or 30 Hashtags in a Post?
The advice to use less hashtags is a faulty conclusion from a study showing that posts with 10,000 likes used 0-3 hashtags, and posts with 30-100 likes used 30 hashtags. To conclude that accounts using 0-3 hashtags got more likes than posts that used 30 hashtags is problematic. Why? Typically, Instagram accounts with 10,000 likes or more are ones that have 10 million or more followers. At that size they don’t need to use hashtags. However, accounts with 500-10,000 followers are the ones using 30 hashtags and getting 30 to hundreds of likes. So unless you are a major celebrity or brand with over 10 million followers, it’s probably best to use 30 hashtags, but you will need to have a sound strategy behind the 30 hashtags you are using in your posts. I touched a bit on hashtagging strategy and how to choose the best hashtags for your account in this previous post.
Together we can curb the overuse of hashtags on Instagram. If you’ve committed any of the mistakes mentioned above, no harm done. Now you know, going forward there’s no benefit to putting hashtags in your bio or in a comment of someone else’s post. Here’s to using your hashtags judiciously and growing your Instagram following!