Report: Instagram hashtags don’t increase engagement
Hashtags might not be all that they’re cracked up to be.
Mention conducted a study of Instagram hashtags
and found that using them does not increase the engagement rate for posts.
This is an important insight for PR and marketing pros, because
Instagram-scheduler Later reported that 81 percent of organizations view
engagement rate as the top success metric.
Mention reported that one third of Instagram posts contain no hashtags. Of
the remaining posts, only a small percentage use many hashtags—with a spike
at 30 hashtags per post (the maximum amount Instagram enables users to add,
though there is a workaround technique that will enable you to include more
Mention also reported that the number of engagements declined when the
number of hashtags rose (excluding, again, a small spike at posts using 30
That’s not to say that hashtags aren’t useful: They can greatly increase
the visibility of your Instagram posts—which, in turn, can increase views
and brand awareness. However, Mention’s data revealed that using them won’t
drive people to interact or share your posts.
[RELATED: Learn social media secrets from TED, Microsoft, Starbucks and more.]
Mention’s study shouldn’t make you abandon hashtag use altogether, but it’s
not the magical answer to increased engagement. Instead, consider these
1. Tag other accounts—especially influencers that align with your
Though 72 percent of Instagram posts don’t contain user tags, the tactic
has been shown to increase both likes and comments on posts. This might be
because your post gets the attention of a popular Instagram user or because
it notifies those you tag of your content.
You can tag up to 20 accounts on each Instagram post, so use it wisely—and
don’t spam followers.
2. Turn to micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are those with a growing and engaged following—but they
have significantly less followers than celebrities and other huge
Mention reported that the majority of Instagram users (nearly 70 percent)
have less than 1,000 followers. Only 1.6 percent have 500,000 to one
million followers, and only 5.2 percent have 50,000 to 500,000 followers.
These top users can charge hundreds or thousands of dollars per post.
that roughly 40 percent of organizations are considering partnering with
Instagram influencers this year, so the tactic can quickly get expensive.
However, turning to the 21.4 percent of Instagram users with followings
between 1,000 and 50,000 followers can be more economical—and effective.
Micro-influencers have smaller follower numbers, but often have more
targeted followings and engaged communities. Mention reported that of the
top 15 percent of posts with the most engagement, more than half (54
percent) came from Instagram users with 10,000 to 50,000 followers.
3. Create and share outstanding content.
Though half of Instagram users follow at least one branded account, no
amount of hashtags will save lackluster content. Instead of loading your
posts with hashtags, use a few relevant and popular hashtags (chosen after
you research the possibilities) to increase your post’s visibility, and
then follow other best practices.
For example, Mention reports that 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
are considered the two best time periods to post on Instagram—and Mondays
and Thursdays are the best days to post (just avoid sharing between 3 p.m.
and 4 p.m.)
Images are the most popular type of content on Instagram, but video posts
received more likes, Mention reported. Choose compelling, visually
appealing images (not just walls of text on a background) that can grab
your audience’s attention. If you’re lacking images, consider asking your
customers to share their photos with you and highlight them on your
organization’s channel (which can also increase your engagement rates).