Instagram hashtags: In-post VS In-comments

There is a great deal of debate over whether it is better to use hashtags in your original instagram post, or to include them in the comments. We look at the pros and cons of each. 

Agora Pulse conducted a study in 2018 to find out which worked best and how it affects the reach metric. 

They looked at 3 different accounts - two business and one person - with varying amounts of followers, and studied 117 posts, each of which contained 30 hashtags. 66 of these posts used hashtags in the original post, 51 used the hashtags in the comments section.

Results showed that hashtags in posts had almost 10% more likes and almost 30% more engagement than hashtags in the comments, whilst hashtags in the comments received almost 20% more comments and just short of 6% more profile visits that hashtags in posts. 

In summary, Agora Pulse concluded that the reach was 29.41% higher when hashtags appeared in the original post.

In a more in depth study in 2019, Social Insider looked through almost 650,000 posts from over 6700 accounts to find out what the data shows about how best to use hashtags on Instagram and their key findings are summarised below.

  • Most accounts used hashtags in the caption - a massive 93.8%, leaving only 6.2% using them in the comments section.

  • Fewer hashtags are used when placed in the comments - averaging only two per comment. When using them in the original caption, it ranged between 7 and 30 hashtags.

  • Posts using 27-30 hashtags, despite performing reasonably well across the board, did not reach higher levels of engagement, when compared with those that had a lower number.

  • Profiles with less than 100,000 followers definitely had a better reach rate if hashtags were used in the original caption. In fact, the data suggested that pages with a smaller following had a better reach if the hashtags were used in this way.

  • However, profiles with in excess of 100,000 followers actually had a better reach if the hashtags were used in the comments. It would appear that profiles with much larger followers performed in exactly the opposite way to those with less.

  • From this, it's fair to say that it's not just enough to tag randomly - it's important to take into account the size of your following as well as the number of, and placement of, relevant hashtags.

  • It is possible to hide your hashtags but the study found that most brands prefer not to do this across the board - although this is not always the best decision. 

  • For posts that chose to include hashtags in the comments, the study found that those with hashtags hidden in the first post or with hidden hashtags in the caption meant a higher engagement rate.

To find out more about this study and see the results in more detail, click here.