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Using Hashtags: Captions Or Comments?

Hashtags have earned their spot in marketing strategies by driving impressions and reach for new audiences, as well as increasing engagement in the form of likes and comments.

On Milk Street, we’ve embarked on a journey to solve one of social media’s greatest mysteries: Where is the best spot to place your hashtags?

Studies from sources like socialinsider.io and our own internal research have taken the science of “hashtagging” even further, as we evaluate placement and determine when it’s best to use them in your posts’ caption or in the comments. We conducted our own poll to find out which is the more preferred method by our followers, and took some pointers from socialinsider.io.

hashtag poll
A live glimpse of our poll results on Instagram.

First, like in any form of online marketing, we highly recommend doing regular A/B testing to ensure you’re maximizing results. On Milk Street, we’ve recently been alternating back and forth between hashtag placements in an effort to discover what works best for us, and we hope to find a well-defined answer to permanently implement. Additionally, we encourage you to consider your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) while evaluating this research. This study focuses on engagement: who is interacting with your post, what’s the reach, and who is seeing your post?

Initial results from our polls suggest that putting hashtags inside the caption are overwhelmingly more popular. Since it’s more favorable, let’s dive into captions first. It’s important to know that a whopping 87% of brands prefer using hashtags in the caption, for better or for worse.

According to Social Insider, “profiles with up to 100,000 followers have better reach and impression rates when posting their hashtag in the caption.” Your reach is likely your KPI-of-choice when you are looking to spread brand awareness on social media. In the early stages of your business, or when introducing new product lines, first impressions are incredibly important. Your next biggest customer could be someone swiping through related posts on Instagram.

Graph with impression rate data.
Studies show a wider reach in posts with hashtags in the caption.

Placing hashtags in the comments has its advantages, too. Influencers across the internet say that a post looks cleaner, more authentic, and less “spammy” when you drop your hashtags in the comments. In terms of functionality, the hashtag does the same thing wherever it is placed; it enables your post to be shown to accounts who don’t follow you (if you’re public).

The main takeaway is that, per socialinsider.io, “hashtagging” in the comments leads to higher engagement rates. Whether it be the aesthetic aspect or just the content itself, more people like and comment on posts with the hashtags tucked underneath the post. It’s also worth mentioning that posts with more comments are favored by the Instagram algorithm and can lead to even more exposure in people’s timelines.

Ultimately, it goes either way, and you’ll need to experiment to find out what works best for you. It’s worth the effort if you’re looking to up your social media game.

On Milk Street, we help our clients build and develop strong, organic followings to drive new business. Contact us to see how we turn social media accounts into brand assets. 

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