How would you go about setting goals for Instagram hashtags?  
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Before we start setting goals for hashtags let's figure out why they exist and why instagram existing. 

Instagrams mission is to capture's the world moments - this could be with friends or the world or anything that can be captured on a camera.

Hashtags could refer to something in the pic itself or to a deeper meaning like an inside joke or an abstract term.


we want to aid the consumers(users who browse) in discovering these moments/photographs through hashtags and also enable the creators to reach a larger audience.

Users can either click on a hashtag and discover content or they can follow a hashtag and keep discovering content related. In addition there are certain hashtags that are topical vs those that are ever green

I want to break the success metrics down into consumers and creator metrics as follows


  • Primary: % of posts created with hashtags vs without 
  • % of users discovering posts(viewing) via hashtags vs other channels of discovery ( explore etc)
  • % of users following account via hashtags
  • % of users following hashtags themselves 
  • Primary: % of total posts consumed(viewed) via hastags 
  • Timespent in hashtag discovery experience 
  • % of users finding hashtags useful ( liked a post or followed an account or a hashtag via hashtags)
  • Top hashtags over different time period (split by topical and ever green)

Summarising the approach

IG's mission

how do hashtags align with the mission

who are the different user cohorts consuming hashtags

What metrics align with the cohorts and what is the primary metric 

by (135 points)
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Setting goals for Instagram hashtags ~ define what success looks like for Instagram hashtags?

Assuming, this is for the current hashtag product (as it stands).

Define why hashtag exist?

  • I think hashtags in Instagram exist so users can easily tag content and discover content based on these tags.
  • They serve both as filters and amplifiers of content on Facebook. It's important to realize that (1). Filters help narrow the focus, while (2). Amplifiers help increase or improve a signal.
  • How would you define hashtag's existence on a meta-level?

Mission & Goal

Since Instagram's mission is tied to FBs. Hashtags should align with this idea of bringing people together. 
Hashtags are successful when it allows the discovery of the world through many lenses. Instagram stands for discovery that brings people together!

Business goal

Improving Instagram user's time on the platform. (logic: More time ~ more usage ~ retention ~ long term revenues)


Since the feature is useful for discovery. We identified earlier that it acts as both filter and amplifier (analogy). We want to choose metrics that define success as functions of the two attributes above:

  1. % of new posts on Instagram with hashtags - this tells us what percentage of new posts on Instagram are being tagged appropriately for discovery. Growth of this # may lead to success.
  2. % of hashtags that grow/used exponentially - this gives a trend line of hashtag usage in general. We will want to see how this % increases or remains proportionate if #1 goes up. This metric accesses the amplifying nature of hashtags and validates our theory of whether this is being achieved or not.
  3. The half-life of exponential hashtags (lifetime value): Average half-life of hashtags that grow viral - this tells us when to expect hashtags expiry and find another way to make content relevant. It will also tell us if certain golden tags are timeless. More variants of those tags are good.
  4. # of new connections/follows per week initiated via a hashtag search or hashtag discovery - the central idea of making sure that discovery leads to bringing people together. This metric track engagement and the ability to interconnect.


Let's prioritize from the metrics above based on the business goal of increasing the user's time on the platform as a result of finding relevant content & people.
MetricPriority (1 to 5) 5 = highest

I would pick #1 and #4 as my success indicators.


Let's summarize the process we went through above:
  1. We defined the existence of hashtags today in light of Facebook and Instagram's mission.
  2. Identified goals for hashtags and how it is aligned with the overarching goals.
  3. Identified key attributes of hashtags and enumerated metrics for success.
  4. Prioritized metrics to track success towards the product's goal.
by (45 points)
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