It has always favored posts with high engagement and ones that receive more likes/comments receive more exposure. Often these posts are accompanied by a considerable amount of hashtags some well planned and others not.
That is why hashtag strategy on Instagram and other social platforms (Facebook, Twitter) is extremely important and can be a determining factor in engagement rates being high or low.
According to AdWeek, “Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6% more engagement than those without.” The benefits associated with using applicable hashtags in your post cannot be understated and a recent study by SocialMediaToday.com found that, “including hashtags in the post caption resulted in 9.84% more likes, and 29.4% more reach. Placing the hashtags in the comments resulted in 19.3% more comments for some strange reason.”
According to Instagram expert, Alex Tooby, you should “avoid gimmicky tags such as #likeforlike as well as hashtags that been used a million or more times. While these tags might get you a few extra likes they are not going to help you grow a highly engaged, targeted following.” Focus on using hashtags to encourage participation and engagement, they should have a specific use and not just be filler for an otherwise not interesting photo. Use local tags, geo-tag, and take advantage of whatever each platform has to offer to connect with a wider base.
When creating hashtags you want to make your product easy to find and also research key phrases your potential consumer is searching for. Put those hashtags that are applicable to your product or service and place them directly in the caption of the photo. Use a dedicated batch of hashtags and you will begin to see what your audience responds too and watch your followers grow.