Why (And How) To Hide Hashtags on Instagram
Last updated 10.03.2023
To hide or not to hide? When it comes to hashtags in your captions on Instagram, this has become one of the most popular questions over time among social media marketers and clients alike. I’ve done some digging (and lots of testing) and come up with an answer.
First, let me present both sides of the argument:
Side 1: Hashtags are necessary to Instagram marketing. There’s no need to hide them.
Hashtags are the way we promote our photos, videos and Reels beyond our own feed to the masses of users who may not be followers yet. It’s how you can end up on the Explore page and (potentially) go viral.
When chosen correctly, these promotional buckets get your name and brand out to your target audience. They are the lifeblood of the Instagram algorithm and using it to show up in front of potential followers, who could be customers or brand advocates, both of which contribute to your business (and brand’s) long term success.
Everyone knows this, so there’s no need to hide it. Besides, Instagram cuts off your captions after a certain character length anyway.
Side 2: Hiding all hashtags on Instagram is key to growing your account.
On the flip side, there are many out there who preach that hiding your hashtags can–and will–get you more followers and increase engagement. This camp agrees with the former that hashtags are necessary to search, but further points out too many hashtags can look spammy sending the message that “my existing followers seeing this content isn’t enough. I have to have more or I’m not satisfied.”
That is a very “me” centric approach rather than one of storytelling & service, which is what reigns supreme when developing a community rather than just a following. Those ever-evident hashtags in your caption served as a deterrent to converting a viewer to a follower. Use too many and people will think you’re a troll looking to increase your numbers rather than truly provide value to an audience.
Before I reveal what side I agree with on this debate, let me show you how to hide them the first place.
How to Hide Your Hashtags
- Write out your caption without any hashtags.
- Immediately hit ‘return’ after the last character (emoji, punctuation, etc) of your caption. NOTE: Be careful not to put a space in or Instagram will not break the line to the next paragraph.
- Immediately hit ‘return’ a few more times to allow for more line breaks (i.e. space)
- Then paste in your three to five hashtags
But the question still remains, should you bother?
Should you bother to hide the hashtags anymore?
After a ridiculous amount of research, and more than six years using the platform professionally for DCM and its clients, I’ve come to the conclusion that both perspectives are correct.
What Really Matters
The bigger question(s) you should be asking is:
- What is our goal with Instagram marketing?
- Would our target audience care?
The answer to these will differ from one account to another. The one looking to grow on a massive scale and keep people entertaining, but not necessarily buying, will rely on creating Reels and using all trending topics and challenges to get views. In this case, hashtags related to the trending challenge will be more beneficial to get seen and no one will care because that’s the point of those hashtags.
If you are looking to nurture an audience that will spend large amounts of money with you and develop a 1:1 relationship, then burying those hashtags will keep the user’s focus on the content you are sharing and the words you are writing. This will build the “know like trust” relationship faster and the hashtags can still get you extra legs…just further down in the caption. Outta sight outta mind approach to your existing followers.
I’m not out to make everyone happy by telling you both schools of thought are right, but rather point out that one tactic can work amazingly for one brand while it fails for another. The key is knowing your audience and using hashtags and methods that resonate with them.
And of course: test, analyze, test, analyze, then test and analyze some more.
Insights can provide you with great data about what works with your audience and what falls flat. Review the impressions, reach and engagement for your content and look for patterns. See what is getting the most traction and recreate that in future content.
Turn a passive viewer into someone who engages with your brand via liking, commenting or reposting by providing content they want rather than what you are most interested in promoting.
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