Hashtags… how many should you really use?


Last month, Instagram announced that the optimal number of hashtags to use is 3-5. 

This shocked many of us in the social media space as hand-on testing and experience did not support this recommendation. 

This week social media scheduling tool Later has released their research gained from analysing over 18 million Instagram feed posts.

There is nothing I like better than actual data and research to back up what we should or shouldn’t be doing!

By checking which posts actually performed the best, it found that 20 was the optimal number of hashtags, with the full 30 not far behind in the success stakes.



Their research found that reach SIGNIFICANTLY increased once posts had more than 5 hashtags – directly contradicting Instagram’s recommendations.

I can’t talk to why Instagram is making this recommendation. It is possible it is trying to reduce spam, volume of hashtag use or further refine the platform – but if you want to know what is going to get the best result for your organisation right now, it is still using more hashtags and not less.

In order to make the most of your Instagram hashtags, make sure you include a mix of:

  Tags related to your industry i.e. #NDIS or #notforprofit

  Tags related to your target market and community i.e.  #melbournemums

  Branded tags that are unique to you and your programs i.e. #changetheworldevent

  Location tags #perthisokay

  Tags that relate to your specific post #cavoodlesofinstagram


What about other social platforms?

Facebook was late to the party with all things hashtag, so generally we don’t recommend the use of hashtags here. Facebook personal profiles have tight privacy settings making them non-searchable anyway and therefore lessening the benefit of a hashtag strategy.

LinkedIn is definitely still worth using hashtags on, but generally a smaller number works well here. We generally use 2-6.

Twitter uses hashtags but because of space limitations this is also a less is more approach with 2-3 being optimal.

TikTok is a hashtag friendly platform and more like Instagram – the more relevant hashtags you use the more searchable you are.

Happy hashtagging,


P.S. You can still access the replay of our recent Instagram for NonProfits Lunch & Learn class here

People we work with