Do Hashtags still matter? The short answer: they sure do.
Long(er) answer: It depends on your goals. I know I say this a lot, but the metrics that matter in your marketing all depend on what you are trying to achieve.
If you have no interest in growing your following any further and purely want to provide value to your current audience, then hashtags might not be all that necessary for you at the moment.
But if you are still in the game of building your audience, as most of us are, then yep — hashtags matter.
Hashtags make it easier for the right audience to find your content.
Think about it, unless someone else shares your content with their audience, how will a potential new follower find out that you exist?
The more specific your hashtag the more targeted your audience will be.
An example of this would be #interiordesigner (17.2M results) compared to #[yourcity]interiordesigner (20K-ish results based on the few cities I tried this with).
If you want to use Instagram to find potential clients and customers, then keywords are KEY. (And data shows that the more specific the term being searched, the higher the user intent to purchase/inquire/book.)
Displaypurposes.com is a super handy website that will make hashtag suggestions for you based on you providing one “hero” hashtag to get it started.
For example, if you type in #floraldesigner it will generate a list of the 30 best-performing hashtags associated with this topic.
Do I recommend you base your entire hashtag strategy off of this? Nope. This is a great tool for improving your reach and getting your content out there, but remember it also means your content will be quickly lost amongst the hundreds of thousands of results also associated with those hashtags.
I suggest incorporating these “wide reaching” hashtags (also called “head terms”) with more specific or hyper-local hashtags (long-tail keywords) that speak directly to your audience, whether that’s based on location / style / service / product.
So how many hashtags are too many?
Every blog post you read will give you a different response. Some will say “Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, so go for it!”. Others will tell you “11 is the perfect number”.
Is there an exact answer here? Nope. There’s not. So here’s what I recommend:
▪️ Create a Master List of 20 – 30 hashtags that are relevant to your profession / industry / business. Spend 30 mins or so doing some research, checking out your Insights, looking at hashtags your competitors are using, and so on.
▪️ Turn this Master List into hashtag “groups” with 3 – 5 in each.
▪️ Each time you post content, select a different hashtag group to use and rotate between these. (Your group could be curated for different aspects of your business, so use your discretion here on what hashtag group is relevant to the content you are posting.)
And as to whether you should post the hashtags in the caption or as the first comment? Whatever is most efficient for you. The most important thing is using the hashtags! Whether they’re in your caption or as a comment, they are still going to perform for your business, so don’t overthink this too much.