Should you put Instagram Hashtags in the Caption, or in the Comments in 2021?

Who ever thought hashtags would be so divisive?

In October of 2007, one of his friends was tweeting about a wildfire in San Diego. Messina asked his friend to include #sandiegofire with his tweets. It didn’t take long for other people to start using the same hashtag, and social media was changed forever.

Hashtags would explode in popularity in the coming years.

In 2009 Twitter added an option to search for hashtags. Instagram allowed users to tag their photos when the company launched in 2010, followed by Facebook using hashtags in 2013.

Then in 2017, Instagram made changes to its algorithm that allowed users to follow specific hashtags. Posts and stories that use the followed hashtag are now featured in the newsfeed alongside content users already follow.

When done correctly, the inclusion of hashtags into user’s feeds allows brands to significantly increase their organic reach.

Using hashtags presents an opportunity for brands to misuse and spam hashtags in the hope to capitalise on trending hashtags. This approach only hurts a brands chance of success on Instagram and will make it much harder for future posts to be seen in the hashtag feeds.

Instagram is continuously trying to weed out the spammy and unrelated posts associated with a hashtag. The best way to be featured in the hashtag feeds is to create high-quality content-related posts that gather high engagement.

So… Hashtags in the comments or caption?

Not too long ago, users started including hashtags in the comments section. This was a way to keep posts looking clean and uncluttered. They were also being discovered by Instagram’s algorithms.

Posting in the comments may make your post appear clean, but does it affect your reach?

Social media analytics platform Socialinsider partnered up with Quuu, a content curation and promotion platform, to determine what works best – comments or captions?

What did the test look like?

The report analysed 649,895 posts from over 6,700 Instagram accounts of different sizes between August 2018 to June 2019.

The most interesting finding was that small and medium Instagram account’s reach per post differs on hashtag placement. 

The results… 

  • Under 5,000 followers
    • 36.85% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the caption
    • 33.39% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the comments
  • 5,000-10,000 followers
    • 20.98% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the caption
    • 19.75% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the comments
  • 10,000-50,000 followers
    • 21.47% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the caption
    • 13.60% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the comments
  • 50,000-100,000 followers
    • 21.43% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the caption
    • 18.81% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the comments
  • More 100,000 followers
    • 14.80% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the caption
    • 15.98% avg. reach rate per post hashtags in the comments

Key takeaways… 

The report found that using hashtags in the caption helps to bring small and medium Instagram accounts more reach per post. Where accounts with more than 100,000 followers have a better reach rate when placing hashtags in the comments.

Other key findings…

  • Posts with 30 hashtags never went up to the higher levels of engagement, compared to posts with a lower number of hashtags.
  • A majority of posts include hashtags in the caption: 93.8% vs 6.2%.

What do you prefer? Hashtags in the comments or captions?

Should you put Instagram Hashtags in the Caption, or in the Comments in 2021?