[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


[NEW STUDY] Hashtag Strategies to Win Instagram

Hashtags on Instagram: they enhance exposure and engagement, right? But how can you get the best from them?
Put hashtags in post caption or in the first comment? How many? Do you hide them?

A data-driven perspective is currently doing the rounds, published by analytics experts Socialinsider and content curation service Quuu.
Is this new study the definitive source? Let’s interrogate the detail and find out.

Tag for exposure

Putting hashtags in the caption earns a post moderately more impressions than having hashtags in the first comment. This is probably the study’s most unqualified finding.

Qualifications are needed as soon as we look beyond that. In short, size matters.

Posts from smaller accounts—fewer than 100k followers—the number of unique users a post will reach is higher when hashtags are in the caption. For example, accounts with 10k to 50k followers had a reach rate of 21.5% using caption hashtags, compared to 13.6% with comment hashtags.

Conversely, accounts with over 100k followers reach more unique users when they put hashtags in the first comment. These high-flyers experienced a reach rate of 14.8% using caption hashtags, rising to 16.0% with comment hashtags.

Tagging to engage

Comment hashtags might be better than caption hashtags for prompting engagement.

On average, Instagram posts with hashtags in the first comment receive a few more likes. And, smaller profiles generally get one or two more comments if they put their hashtags in the first comment.

But, engagement per post also depends on follower count, tag placement and number of hashtags. When cut a few ways, the stats quickly get complex.

The study also looked at whether hiding hashtags below the fold makes a difference to engagement. Socialinsider’s report implies that it does, but the results were again mixed depending on all the aforementioned factors.

Summary advice

Socialinsider ultimately advises different rules depending on the scale of the Instagram account.

But, smart marketers would be right to ask whether such simple generalisations are reliable. Inconsistency and multidimensionality raise a few questions.

Inside the insiders

Socialinsider’s data pool looks deep and they seem to be asking the right questions. But, the research report is notably short on technical details like statistical significance and analysis of covariance.

Want to go deeper into the detail? Check out the full 44 page Instagram Hashtag Research report from Socialinsider.

Heuristics like these are catchy and can be super convenient. But, do you trust them to do the best for our bottom-line metrics?

Copy Transmission is a Melbourne-based agency :: Better Brands. Loud & Clear.


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