Regardless of how much things continue to change on Instagram, the importance of a good hashtag strategy never wanes. And that’s why this topic is still, hands down, the most commonly thing I get asked about when it comes to Instagram strategy. From questions about where to put hashtags to how many to use and which ones to use, I get them all!
If you want my answer on how many to use, make sure to check out this blog post that explains my theory on how many is “right”. And, if you want the super secret recipe to Instagram success that I tell everyone, check out this video that outlines exactly how to organize your hashtags. When asking those who have learned anything on Instagram from me, this hashtag strategy is the number one thing most people are most grateful for and which has transformed their IG results most significantly.
Now that you’ve watched that and you’re all up to speed on how many hashtags to use, the inevitable next question is where to put your hashtags on feed posts.
Caption or comment – that is the question!
Does it matter? Does one perform better than the other?
In the overall grand scheme of things, IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER.
The algorithm doesn’t care (no, seriously, it has no impact on algorithmic ranking). Your audience doesn’t really care. The only people who care are the ones creating the content, trying to get more reach 😉
And even in regards to the latest news about Instagram saying hashtags are only considered for SEO in the caption, here’s my take on that and why it still doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme.
That being said, there are two caveats that you should be aware of in terms of your hashtag placement.
First – if you are using popular hashtags with well over a million posts associated with them (which if you watched the video, I just told you not to use…), then keep those popular hashtags in the original caption. The delay of even 10-30 seconds that it takes from the time you upload your post to when you add your comment can significantly impact your exposure in those popular hashtags. But if you’re using hashtags with less than a million posts associated with them, a short delay isn’t going to render them useless.
Second – in terms of accessibility and performance, you want to be cognizant of where you post and how you format your hashtags. If an Instagram user is relying on a screen reader to interpret Instagram posts, the screen reader will read the entire post caption (but not the comments unless prompted to do so). So if your caption is full of hashtags that look like this #thisisareallylonghashtagthatyoucantread or anything with no word differentiation, the screen reader has to read each and every character. If you’ve got 20+ hashtags in your caption, that screen reader is stuck on your post for the next few minutes, reading out all your hashtags to that poor user.
So, instead of driving your audience crazy, there are two things you can do. Your hashtags should always be in camel case regardless of where you put them. That means capitalizing the first letter of every word in the hashtag so it looks like this: #ThisIsAReallyLongHashtagThatYouCanRead – and let’s face it, that makes it way easier for EVERYONE to read! Additionally, you can put your hashtags in a comment if you want to alleviate the stress on the screen readers because then the caption is limited to only the message you wanted them to read.
Beyond these two caveats of hashtag popularity and accessibility, the choice of where to put your hashtags is purely a matter of personal preference. It’s really up to you and your brand what you decide.
Personally, for me, I put all my hashtags in the caption because it’s faster and easier. I’m in upload mode and I don’t want to go back and add a comment.
I also rely heavily on Agorapulse when it comes to uploading my Instagram feed posts and managing my Instagram hashtag strategy. I rarely upload a feed post directly to Instagram on the app itself. Instead, I rely on Agorapulse so I can post from my desktop (first of all!) but also so I can manage my hashtags. Agorapulse has an awesome hashtag tool for Instagram management that allows you to create multiple hashtag categories. Here’s a screenshot of a couple of the categories I have set up.
This allows me to create different groups for different content purposes. For me, most of my hashtags focus on the Instagram related topics and then the various business related ones as you can see. But you might have seasonal hashtags or different groups for different product lines or different target audiences. This tool allows you to bundle them all up so when it comes time to post to Instagram, simply select the categories you want to include and they automatically populate in the caption. Then add in a couple fresh, content-specific ones and you’re all set. You don’t have to remember all the ones you normally use or worry about if you forgot any – they’re all populated and ready to go every time you post!
Yes, I am a brand ambassador for Agorapulse and yes this is an affiliate link. If you use this link you can get 2 months free on Agorapulse to try it out. Or you can keep using notes on your phone or computer to remember all your hashtags 😉
Hopefully, all of this helps you understand how you get strategic with all of your hashtags on Instagram. With the right hashtags, you can appear in the right searches, get found by the right customers, and both grow your followers and drive more sales from Instagram.