Ever wondered what’s the best hashtag to caption your Instagram post with? Thought if adding that extra hashtag would do any good or harm it?

Analyzing 100 million Instagrammers, we’ve identified the secrets of #hashtagging content to increase its viewable audience.

There is a plethora of possibilities to tag an Instagram post with. It can be easy to get lost within the myriad of photos hundreds of millions of users post daily. With our team of data-scientists, we’ve quantified the optimal number of hashtags that should be added to a post as well as what types of hashtags should be used.

Follow this guide to learn how to select the best hashtags for your Instagram photos and how many of them to add.

Why should I use a hashtag?

Hashtags are the best way for your posts to get noticed. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than those without.

Though this number seems promising, we should take it with a grain of salt. Here’s why.

Hashtag usage is heavier within popular accounts. These profiles tend to be more advanced with promoting their content to help it be found.

Thus, comparing posts with a hashtag to those that don’t could imply we’re comparing more popular accounts to those that are less popular. Even in the most quoted researches in this field, there is little clarification whether the data analysis of hashtag vs. no hashtag was being consistently done on the same users.

To account for this inconsistency, our data scientists compared for each user the engagement rates with and without hashtags. They have compared the content performance for casual users, micro-influencers, and power-users separately.

The breakdown below shows the greater engagement rates when hashtags are added to a post.

Casual users enjoy the best growth of interactions when adding hashtags to their Instagram captions.

How many hashtags should I use?

A hashtag offers the best opportunity to be found, so intuitively the more the merrier, right? Not exactly.

Adding too many hashtags may make the content appear less authentic and bring in many spammy comments that ruin the experience for fans.

We took this dilemma to our data-scientists to figure out what science has to say about how many hashtags is ideal to use to get the best engagement rate.They accomplished this by comparing the total number of likes on a post to the total number of hashtags used.

hashtag graph

Why using the most popular hashtags is wrong

Many people think that using the most popular hashtags will result in higher views. Take note though, a very popular keyword can drown your post in a sea of similar photos. To safeguard against this, choose a keyword that lies somewhere in the ‘magic middle’ or in between very generic and not so known.

A better way to increase relevancy and engagement with fans is to choose hashtags that are more topic or category based. Even better is to take into account the gender and age of your audience to maximize relevancy.

For example, if a coffee shop in Seattle wants to get noticed, it should avoid using the generic hashtag #coffee because the post would get lost in the flood of pictures that are tagged with one of the most popular hashtag on Instagram.

Instead, the coffee shop should narrow their choice of hashtags to #SeattleCoffee, #SeattleEats or #SpecialtyCoffee. By wording the hashtags to a specific year and location, the company creates a more unique reference to its product promotion and thereby increases its views and engagement.

What are the most relevant hashtags for your brand?

For a quick sample reference, we have compiled a list of the most relevant hashtags per specific topics to help you increase engagement.

Moms:

#momlife #giveaway#motherhood #mothersday#easter

#thankful#shopsmall #mom#thanksgiving #childhoodunplugged#kidsfashion

#thatsdarling#ad #valentinesday#1 #familytime#merrychristmas

#mompreneur#backtoschool #letthembelittle#friyay #babygirl#toddler

#fathersday#widn #target#2 #datenight#toddlerlife

#candidchildhood#sisters #instakids#followfriday

#momlife#newborn4thofjuly #parenting

#girlboss #grateful#ontheblog #memorialday#blackfriday

#happynewyear#sponsored #reallife#momswithcameras

#pregnancy#babyboy #pumpkin#boymom #thehappynow

Travel:

#sunrise #beautifuldestinations#paradise #passionpassport

#island #europe#lake #roadtrip

#waterfall #wonderful_places#travelphotography #boat

#river #bridge#travelblogger #mountain

#reflection #neverstopexploring#hiking #greece

#travelawesome #venice#church #asia

#traveltheworld #travelblog#lonelyplanet #bestvacations

#hotel #castle#skyline #ad

#rome #prayforparis#beachlife #pool

#history #amsterdam#desert #travelstoke

#sand #forest#wildlife #natgeo#park

#awesomeearth#waves #switzerland#traveller #rainbow

Art:

#drawing #painting#sketch #illustration

#artwork #portrait#wip #halloween

#ink #instaart#starwars #pencil

#watercolor #paint#sketchbook #draw

#sculpture #streetart#artoftheday#gallery

#abstract #skull#contemporaryart #doodle

#digitalart #pen#bird #1

#acrylic #heart#graffiti #workinprogress

#fineart #batman#artsy #moon

#space #pokemon#instaartist #paper

#fanart #magic#rainbow #artgallery

#print #oilpainting#arts_help #rose#arte #artists

Sports:

#sport #running#run #sports#1 #nopainnogain#nba #basketball#nfl

#legend#team #runner#workhard #pancakes

#nevergiveup #legday#cheatmeal

#fruits#warriors #smoothie #swimming

#merrychristmas #fitfrenchies#squat #challenge#respect

#happynewyear#prayforparis #marathon#instarunners #swim

#musculation #baseball#runners #rip#olympics

#restday#rio2016 #champion#mlb #mondaymotivation

#nikerunning #coach#fitnessgirl #lakers#champions

#burger#sushi #jump

Luxury:

#luxury #ferrari#lamborghini #luxurylife

#rolex #gold#porsche #mercedes

#watch #luxurylifestyle#watches #bentley

#rollsroyce #bugatti#audi #money

#millionaire #supercar#rich #billionaire

#yacht #mclaren#amg #luxurycars

#hublot #aventador#supercars #audemarspiguet

#astonmartin #maserati#mercedesbenz #watchporn

#classic #pool#lambo #watchesofinstagram

#exotic #speed#louisvuitton #champagne

#patekphilippe #monaco#cartier #luxurywatch

#mansion #rangerover#boss #watchoftheday#classy #hermes

Fashion:

#streetstyle #details#ad #chanel

#denim #zara#nyfw #monday

#outfitoftheday #lookbook#tgif #saturday

#liketkit #danielwellington#sunglasses #fall

#inspo #halloween#giveaway #lookoftheday

#mood #bag#watch #prayforparis

#sponsored #hm#accessories #boots

#jeans #gucci#sneakers #fashionweek

#whatiwore #dior#tb #pfw

#brunch #blackfriday#fashionblog #ootn

#styleblogger #heels#casual #fromwhereistand

#wiw #stripes#lace #roses#icecream #louisvuitton

How to find the perfect hashtag?

I. Volume

To find the perfect hashtag, there are several factors to consider. First, check the search volume surrounded around the specific keyword. With a higher volume score, it’s more likely fans will be exposed to and notice your post. Again, take heed that the tag is not too generic. Specialty coffee lovers should use a tag in the golden ‘magic middle’ like #latteart and not #coffee.

You can check the volume of your keyword by typing the tag into the Instagram search bar. If you choose your hashtags based on this method, be sure to check the relevancy of the posts after searching the keyword.

For the more serious users, the Klear database provides a more in-depth and Klear solution (pun intended) to finding the perfect hashtag. Simply search a campaign or product hashtag, like #GapLove for example, and the database will compile all the data on Instagram relating to the search. You’re left with a comprehensive and detailed breakdown of the dominant gender, top age group, top country, and more.

This data helps the user understand where exactly the volume is coming from. In this example, #GapLove has a strong women audience aged 18-24 from the United States.

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.03.25 PM

II. Difficulty

The word or phrase of the hashtag itself can matter a great deal. For example, #visitNYC is much more common hashtag than #visitnewyorkcity.

Considering a hashtag by its simplicity or difficulty is a common practice just like with any SEO research. Prioritize the hashtags you choose based on how people use it on Instagram, and not as they would outside of the social network.

III. Relevancy

Being in the right place in the right time is an incredibly important part of this hashtag success equation. A great way to make sure this happens is this is through the Klear database. The platform helps zone in on a specific location, field of interest, relevant age group, and gender for a keyword. This feature bolsters the search for a hashtag that matches a post to the right type of audience.

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 11.23.08 AM

From here, the advantages of the tool transpires as the user can pinpoint to whom exactly is using the hashtag, illuminating the types of people involved in the conversation about the brand or product.

Opportunity Score

After this due diligence, use the three criteria (1) Volume (2) Difficulty, and (3) Relevancy, to determine an opportunity score. In other words, these benchmarks will help you assess the likelihood of your chosen hashtag in capturing its target audience, expanding your reach, and maximizing engagements.

The Reverse Engineering Hack

Here’s a little trick to shortcut your research. 

Our goal is to find the best hashtags to reach our target audience. So why not check which hashtags they use the most?

Let me share an example with you. Let’s say you’re a drone company who seeks aerial photographers. How would you find only those users among all the photographers on Instagram? That can be an endless search.

First, let’s pick a known drone company, like DJI. Next, we’ll check which hashtags DJI’s fans use the most. To do so, we’ve just opened their Klear profile, and see the results: 

Hashtags relevancy

As you can see, we quickly found great suggestions like #dronoftheday and #dronelife. This process can be repeated with companies who target the same audience like yours, and even with niche influencers.

Meeting New People with Hashtags

Think of Instagram hashtags as the best way to connect with new followers. That’s the first time they will discover your account. That’s why you should make a great first impression with wise pickings and not overdoing it with adding too many hashtags. 

To maximize your competitive advantage as an influencer or a marketer on Instagram, choose the optimal amount of hashtags in relation to the content of your post. In addition, use audience-focused hashtags based on their interests and location.

Avital Benyamini

Data Analyst at Klear

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