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How to Use Instagram Reels Hashtags for Engagement

Most of you already know, but for anyone who is green to social media marketing these days – video is totally necessary for a strong social strategy. For a successful Instagram strategy, Reels have to be your go-to. When you think about it, Reels are still relatively new. When you think about it, they’re only as old as your first reusable mask. The point is, not everyone knows how to use the feature to its full potential– especially when it comes to Instagram Reels hashtags. 

How Hashtags Work on Social Media

In case you forgot how hashtags work, they’re a string of words or phrases with the hashtag (or pound #, for the pre-social media generations) at the front. They tie your content to a particular category and make it more discoverable to relevant audiences. 

Here’s a basic hashtag survival guide:

  • Ditch the punctuation, symbols, and spaces
  • Set your account to public 
  • Keep them short, but not too short (think long-tail keywords)
  • Get relevant and specific 
  • Make sure other creators are using them too
  • A little goes a long way– overcrowding your post with hashtags can seem spammy

Do Instagram Reels Hashtags Differ From TikTok hashtags?

Instagram Reels doesn’t have a trending hashtags section that shows you all the tagged Reels in one place. Only one Reel appears per hashtag search results page and one per screen of posts on the Explore page. The upside? Competition is lower for Reels than for other posts, so you’ll have an easier time getting your videos into that one slot. 

Instagram added a new tab to the hashtag page for “Recent” posts. This prevents the hashtag page from getting filled with old content. 

The real bonus here (or the Reel bonus 🤪) is that tagged Reels will now appear on the Feed of users who follow that hashtag.

TikTok allows as many hashtags as you can fit in 100 characters. Instagram limits the number you can use to 30 hashtags. While there’s a lot of online discourse on whether to stick with 3-5 hashtags or go for the full 30, we’re trusting the Instagram @creators account’s recommendation. They recommend 3-5 and say that using between 10 and 20 won’t do you any good. They also recommend staying away from overly generic hashtags (think #fyp on TikTok).

On TikTok, adding hashtags in the comments is a lot less impactful than sticking them right in your caption. Netizens believe this is the way to go for Reels as well.

Hashtag Strategies for Instagram Reels

It’s best to approach Instagram hashtags like you would SEO keywords. Use a good balance of high competition terms with a big following and low competition, niche terms that are hyper-relevant to your content.

When deciding what hashtags to use, start by defining what your account is about, what your Reel is about, and what your target audience is likely searching on Instagram. Next, find out what hashtags are going viral within your industry. Lastly, add any brand or product-specific hashtags. 

Remember, the algorithm is basically a robot. It can’t see with eyes– it needs data. Your hashtags need to be accurate and descriptive to show the little Reels algo robot what your content is all about. 

When it comes to hashtag placement, most users only see the first few words of your Reel caption. This means you don’t really have to worry about how the hashtags appear in your caption. 

The tricky part about Instagram Reels hashtags is figuring out how many to use. Some say don’t use all 30, others say using only 5 is a possible missed opportunity. 

Use the Reels analytics platform to see what posts are ranking for particular hashtags for how long.

Instagram Reels has its own algorithm. It ranks based on these four factors:

  • Relationships
  • Relevance
  • Timeliness
  • Popularity

Relevance is the most important ranking factor for your hashtag strategy. It takes into account what hashtags, keywords, and audio you use. 

The main difference between the Reels algorithm and the Feed algorithm is what they prioritize showing you. The Reels algorithm wants to show you relevant content from new users. The Feed algorithm juggles recommending content from everyone you follow with a tiny sprinkle of content from new users. Are you starting to see why hashtags are a little more important to the Reels algorithm? 

Here’s lowdown– hashtags get your content in front of users who don’t follow you yet. So does the Reels algorithm. That means hashtags for Instagram Reels basically put your video in turbo mode.

Instagram Reels Hashtag Examples for Inspiration 

Here, we see a pretty kitty enjoying head scratches. The poster uses a combo of general hashtags (#catsofinstagram) and niche ones (#blepcat) to capture the perfect audience (aka me). 

This post used general hashtags to describe the niche (#fitness and #travel, for example) and then added hashtags specific to the video location.

Whew, this one is a doozy. The post reaches the right audience with the #labsofinsta and #labownerproblems hashtags, then uses #pettoxins to describe the disastrous raw chicken consumption taking place in the video.

Final tip to-go– use our hashtag manager and auto-post Reels feature to streamline your Instagram Reels hashtag strategy!

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Danielle Townsley

Danielle is the Social Media Manager at PLANOLY. She stays in the know of the latest industry trends and is always finding ways to create engaging and educational content for PLANOLY’s social platforms.

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