Let's face it: it's hard not to get sucked into Instagram. Whether your feed is full of A-list celebs, fitness models showing off their bafflingly-perfect gym bods, or Instagram moms looking impossibly stylish while posing with their well-dressed kids in their trendy, all-white homes, the highly-curated social media version of reality can be totally alluring. But if you want to get in on the action and do it all for the 'gram, you'll probably have at least a few questions, like how many hashtags can I use on Instagram? Technically, Instagram will cap your hashtags at 30 – your post simply won't upload if you have more — so that's definitely worth keeping in mind when working on your captions. But according to social media experts, quality is definitely more important than quality when it comes to attracting a following.
If you've used social media at all, then you're likely already very familiar with hashtags: they're a way to categorize your content, and they also help users find what you've shared. On Instagram, using hashtags means that your posts will be visible on the corresponding hashtag page (if your account is public, at least), and the same goes with any location tags you've added. You can use numbers, but not special characters or spaces, and you can only hashtag posts you've created.
Given the sheer amount of content being posted to Instagram at any given moment, hashtags help users narrow down what it is they want to see. And since searching by hashtag can be a great way of finding new people to follow — especially since it's also possible to follow specific hashtags — you're definitely going to want to include them if you're hoping to grow your audience. In general, more hashtags are more effective (according to a 2014 by Simply Measured, posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6 percent more engagement than those without), and according to HootSuite, a TrackMaven analysis found that "posts with nine hashtags receive the most engagement," suggesting that that could be the magic number.
But the number of hashtags isn't all there is to it: according to Follows.com, the type of hashtags you use also matters, and using a select number of effective hashtags can be way better than using nine (or 30!) lame ones. And you might not want to opt for the most popular options — #instagood, #love, and #picoftheday might give your content a really wide audience, but it'll be really easy for your photos to be drowned out by the countless others being shared at any given minute.
Instead, it might be far more useful to think of hashtags that actually have meaning for what you're trying to post. What's the purpose of the photo you're sharing, or your account as a whole? Who are you hoping is going to see it (and follow you)?
But your post captions aren't the only place you can use Instagram hashtags: according to Later, you can include hashtags in your Instagram Stories, too, either by simply typing them in, or by using a hashtag sticker, opening up a whole new option for sharing your stuff.
Chasing Instagram fame might not be everyone's goal, but hey, if you're going to bother to share content on Instagram, chances are you probably at least want someone other than your IRL bestie to be liking your stuff. So although hashtags may not suddenly earn you thousands of new followers overnight, having a few Instagram tricks up your sleeves is probably a good idea. Plus, you never know, perhaps a career as an Instagram influencer is in your future after all.