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Instagram Hashtag Strategy: Should Hashtags Be In The Caption Or Comments?

If you’re on Instagram, you’ve surely noticed some users adding hashtags in the first comment instead of in the caption. This is an interesting Instagram hashtag strategy, but it does it work? Read on and find out.

Instagram hashtag strategy: Captions or comments?

First of all, let me explain why having an Instagram hashtag strategy is important. Hashtags help your content be found for more terms on Instagram, increasing engagement on your posts. This means more likes, comments, and profile visits overall. You can see why a hashtag strategy is important on Instagram. Instagram also now lets users follow hashtags on their feed, making them even more important. You can bet that many people are following all things #WorldCup:

On the road to the next round of #WorldCup games 🚌

A post shared by Bleacher Report Football (@brfootball) on

Although Instagram doesn’t confirm which strategy is more efficient, some users prefer to leave their hashtags in the first comment of the post rather than the caption itself. Before diving into this, let’s make a couple of things clear:

  • If a clean caption is vital for your Instagram strategy, put your hashtags in the comments.
  • If visually seeing the hashtags will add value and appeal to the post, put your hashtags in the caption.

Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, so it’s totally up to you how you use them. It is true that the Instagram algorithm factors both the hashtags in the captions and in the comments, we just don’t know which is more valued by the algorithm.

Unlocking the mystery of an Instagram hashtag strategy

While there isn’t any accessible data that would confirm which of the hashtag strategies is more efficient, one study I came across did a pretty good job trying to solve the mystery. The study analyzed the performance of three separate Instagram profiles. The content performance of the Instagram posts was analyzed when the hashtags were placed in the caption, in comparison to when the hashtags were placed in the comments. The following two posts are examples from the actual study.

Amazing photo a user sent us of Paris!! Absolutely stunning..

A post shared by Agorapulse (@agorapulse) on

You can see that the top post has all the hashtags in the caption, while the bottom one has them all in the comments. Notice how much neater the bottom one appears when viewed. This can appeal greatly to photographers who want their work to stand out, rather than their hashtags.

The study was performed in a 30-day period, during which the data was analyzed. The study analyzed 117 posts from three different accounts with a total of 13,700 Instagram followers. From the combined accounts, 51 posts included hashtags in their comments, while 66 posts included hashtags in the original caption. The results from the study were intriguing.

Hashtags in the caption:

  • Likes: 60.64
  • Comments: 2.84
  • Profile visits: 2.72
  • Reach: 66

Hashtags in the comments:

  • Likes: 55.21
  • Comments: 3.39
  • Profile visits: 2.88
  • Reach: 51

As you can see, the results are in favor of hashtags in captions. The hashtags in the captions resulted in 9.84% more likes, and 29.4% more reach. All in all, placing hashtags in the captions resulted in 18% better content performance. Keep in mind that the same 30 hashtags were used for each post, and they were identical in the posts and in the comments. Note that every post within the accounts used the same hashtags relevant for that account.

Create an effective Instagram hashtag strategy

If we follow the results from this study, it appears that hashtags in the caption work better than hashtags in the comments. However, we should take the results from this study with a grain of salt, given that users don’t engage with Instagram posts only because of the hashtags. My advice would be to consider the following:

  • Mix it up: Place the 3-4 most important hashtags in your caption, and then place any others in a comment. Make sure to place them in the comment a minute or two after the post is live. It is useless if you wait more than a couple of minutes to do it.
  • Strategize: Come up with an awesome caption and use your hashtags in a creative manner. Use your hashtags strategically as a way to complement your caption, without putting an emphasis on the hashtags. GoPro have used #GoProFamily as part of the sentence so it blends into their caption naturally.

At the end of the day, every Instagram user is receiving different content engagements based on their particular followers. Even though the data suggest which approach is better, you should make the most out of which approach works best for your Instagram profile. Whatever approach you end up using, just make sure your hashtag strategy is on point.

Date: June 20, 2018 / Categories: Engagement, Hashtags, / Author: Rich Drees


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