Hashtags for Reels

If you want to dig deep, watch the video… but if you’re down with the Cliffs notes version of this lesson, here it is. 🎉

Hashtags for reels are a tricky subject because as you know, Instagram doesn’t provide you with insights on that side of the platform just yet. Fingers crossed that they’ll roll them out super soon!

Because of this, all of the information on the Internet for hashtags in reels is purely anecdotal. Instagram hasn’t given out any information as to best practices, so we’re taking an educated guess. Here’s what we know for sure.

  1. The success of a reel is dependent on many layers… length, sound, hashtags, engagement rate, and of course, the content itself. If your content sucks, the perfect set of hashtags isn’t going to save you.
  2. Instagram really loves to imitate other platforms — it’s no secret that Reels are a copy of TikTok. Keep the TikTok AND Instagram algorithms in mind as you’re building out your hashtag strategy, because there are parallels.

Where should you put the hashtags?

Instagram doesn’t weigh hashtags in the comments more heavily than in the caption, so this comes down to aesthetics. Personally I like to use the first comment in the grid, but I include my hashtags right in the caption of my reel so that Instagram knows who I want to send it out to.

Does size matter?

You know it does. 😂

The smaller your account is, the more small hashtags you should be using. (Small hashtags are under 1M, but closer to the 100,000 mark)

If everybody in the top of a hashtag is getting 5000 likes and 600 comments on your post and you have a small account, you’re not going to be featured in the Top Posts – which means the lifetime and reach of your content is much smaller.

How many hashtags should you use?

You can browse, search, or follow hashtags — but only in the grid. You can’t search for reels using the hashtag feature, so it’s important to keep the hashtags extra relevant in your reel.

Popular advice has it that 8-10 hashtags are optimal… and some of my top reels have had 8-10 hashtags. The proof is in the pudding! You don’t need to use all 30.

How do you find hashtags?

Hashtags are how you tell Instagram where to send your reel, so go back to the classic set of questions you learned to ask in elementary school — who, what, when, where, why? (And sometimes, how?)

  • WHO is going to use your product? How would they label themselves? Which hashtags are they following? Who YOU are is secondary, but also important.
  • WHAT is in the reel?
  • WHEN is your reel relevant? (Think year, season, or holiday)
  • WHERE is your perfect fit client located?
  • WHY is your reel relevant? (If you’re a photographer, maybe it’s a special occasion… if you’re a service based business, maybe you help other businesses grow, aka #growyourbusiness)
  • HOW might not be applicable to every industry, but if you are sharing tools and supplies that are relevant to your end user, you can reference them in your hashtags

Until we get insights, we won’t know for sure. If you go to a regular IG post, you can see which hashtags are working for your account. Chances are, if you’ve got a set of hashtags that’s performing well in the grid it’s going to match up with your reels as well. (Unless you’re posting stuff that’s not relevant to your brand, which is a bad idea to start with.)

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