Testing Instagram's Huge New Hashtag Update

If you haven’t already heard, Instagram has recently shed some light on how to use hashtags appropriately on the platform, and what you should avoid to get the most out of adding them to your content.
Up until this point, all we really knew was that there was a strict limit of 30 hashtags per post. But now, the recommendation seems to have shifted, and creators are starting to experiment to test the algorithm. 

In this quick video, YouTuber It’s Jonny Keely puts the new recommendations to the test, by posting a similar photo to one that performed admirably from the same location over a year prior. Only this time, instead of using the 30 hashtag limit, he stays within the new guidelines explained here by the official Instagram creators account. His results were quite surprising once he breaks down the metrics using the integrated insights panel between the two posts.

As someone who is active on the platform, and using it for business, I am excited about the new changes because I find it difficult to keep track of the hundreds of different hashtags I use depending on the images I choose to post. I’m also testing these new recommendations out myself to see if my reach is influenced in either way by the updated guidance. I’m also more curious to see what the ramifications will be across the board if everyone starts following suit. Will we still need hashtag optimization websites? What will happen to certain hashtags, like #explorepage and the hundreds of other nondescript, generalized hashtags on the platform? Are they training the algorithm to be able to eventually ignore hashtags and focus directly on the content itself? What do you think?

Scott Donschikowski's picture

Scott Donschikowski is a professional photographer and educator with over 11 years of experience leading a variety of photo workshops around the world. He specializes mainly in landscape, wildlife, and astrophotography. He is also active on YouTube where he makes tutorials sharing his photographic knowledge.

Log in or register to post comments

I don't see how the recent changes will affect someone like myself, who primarily uses very specific hashtags to reach a small niche of users.

For instance, if I use a hashtag containing only the scientific name of a little known species of animal, such as #crotaluscerberus, I just don't see how IG's new algorithm is going to affect those few people who are actively following and/or searching for that hashtag.

Great point! Experimentation is key I guess, with these sort of recommendations. But yeah, if your goal is to try to reach a specific niche, and not blow up on the explore page, your logic is totally sound, because you'd never those people otherwise.

Interestingly enough I stopped using hashtags in the last few months and saw much better results than I've ever seen going from 8k to 42k followers since Feb and just posting more content on the platform! Using reels, carousels, stories, IG TV..pretty much getting out at least 5-8 bits of content to the platform really altered my trajectory

Nice job on the growth! They say the best way to increase reach is 1. Reels, 2: Carousels, 3. Posts

Are you trying to reach a very specific subset of people? Or do you just want to gain as many "general followers" as possible?

I don't see hashtags as being useful for bringing in the masses. But I think they are absolutely necessary for reaching those few people who have the very same extremely small obscure interests that we have.

I mean, if I want biologists and bird enthusiasts who specialize in a certain kind of woodpecker to see my photo, how would I reach them without using a hashtag with that woodpecker's species name in it?

Just bringing in masses of people to my Instagram page is useless. What the hell good is that going to do for me? The only way Instagram will ever be of any practical value is if I can reach those few people in the world who share the very same niche interests that I have.

You point is great Tom, especially for people who need more specific targeting.