Recently (March 2022), Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in one of his Stories that Instagram hashtags don’t “really” help with post distribution.

Social Insider has analyzed 75,361,233 Instagram posts published between March 2021 and March 2022 to see whether Instagram hashtags play a role in post views, calculated as the average engagement rate by impressions.

Their conclusion?

👉 Instagram hashtags don’t really influence post distribution. Instagram hashtags are used to categorise content and make it discoverable for users. Interestingly, 53% of the respondents answered that the main reason for using Instagram hashtags is to boost reach/post views.

The argument behind his response was that Instagram hashtags help users understand what a post is all about, but it’s not necessarily a strategy for getting more distribution.

👉 The more hashtags big accounts use, the lower impressions rate they receive. Big accounts should use three-four hashtags to obtain better impressions rates. Mid-sized accounts get a higher impression rate if they use more than five hashtags.

👉 HOWEVER, hashtags are still important to use because they help with discoverability and organic search results.

Because Instagram is trying to change the platform into a search destination, they have introduced keyword search. Instagram keyword search works by allowing users to type in a keyword such as “home office inspiration” rather than being limited to a hashtag like #homeofficeinspiration. As a result, we see decreased Instagram hashtag performance because people are typing in a keyword/phrase, but they’re not navigating on the hashtags page as they did in the past.

So you’re still getting post distribution, but you’re not necessarily seeing it in the hashtag results.

Check out the full report right here.