How would you go about setting goals for Instagram hashtags?  
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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.
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by (51 points)
+1 vote

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 

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by (165 points)
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Step1: Define the feature

On Instagram, by placing the pound symbol in front of a word or phrase, the term becomes a clickable phrase. When users click that link, they’ll be taken to a page that displays all posts that also utilize that hashtag.

It's a way to categorize and group similar content together. For example, clicking the hashtag “#travelgram” that appears in an Instagram post will take you to a page where you can see other travel-related posts:

  • Using relevant hashtags makes it easier for users to stumble upon your account. They might see a post of yours when perusing different hashtags, and then decide that you’re worth a follow—meaning hashtags are a great way to grow your audience.

  • Posts that use hashtags get far more engagement. In fact, one study goes so far as to say that Instagram posts that use at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement.

  • They’re easy to implement. Sure, they’ll require a little research and planning to make sure you identify the right hashtags to use (more on that a little later!). But, beyond that, they’re an incredibly simple way to expand your following and give your engagement a boost.


Step 2: Feature goal

Feature goals are different for different user groups


Content Creators 

  • Get more followers

  • Improve post engagement

  • Build community around your business


Content Consumers 

  • Easily find relevant content and engage


Step 3: user Journey

Example - A food blogger might post a picture of a gorgeous smoothie bowl, and then use the hashtags #superfoods, #cleaneating, and #vegansofig when it’s uploaded to Instagram -> By using these three hashtags, the image is cataloged so other Instagram users who enjoy healthy foods can easily find it when they search / follow these hashtags


User can then engage with the post in many ways -  follow, unfollow, like, comment, save, share etc


Step 4: Map user behavior with user journey phase

Content Creators 

  • Get more followers

    • No. of followers of a hashtag (shows the popularity)

    • No. of new followers acquired by a content creator through hashtag search 

    • % Increase in avg. no. of followers per post 

  • Improve post engagement

    • Avg. No. of reactions for post with hashtag Vs posts without hashtag

    • Avg. no. of saves , shares for post with hashtag Vs posts without hashtag

    • Avg. no. of comments

    • Impression of each hashtag

    • % Increase in time spent on IG per user


Content Consumers 

  • Easily find relevant content and engage

    • % increase in Hashtag search 

    • % conversion of users to followers for hashtag search 


Step 5: Evaluate the metrics and Prioritize

Given the impact to the user and business the metrics I’d like to track are 


    • % Increase in avg. no. of followers per post 

    • Avg. No. of reactions for post with hashtag Vs posts without hashtag

    • Avg. no. of saves , shares for post with hashtag Vs posts without hashtag

    • Avg. no. of comments for posts with hashtags Vs posts without hashtags


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by (19 points)
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Product description:

Just so that we are on the same page about Instagram hashtags, this feature is used by users on posts to increase discoverability of their posts and share them with a broader community. It aligns with the mission of Instagram which is to capture moments of life and share them with the world. 

Clarifying questions:

Do we know anything else about this feature? No

Business goal: 

My hypothesis is that the primary business goal of this feature is to increase engagement as broader outreach would mean more activity on a post in the form of likes, comments,or shares and lead to an increased engagement of original post creator as well as post consumers

Users and user journey:

  • Content creators: Create posts, use hashtags, check if their post is getting traction, check if they are getting more followers
  • Content consumers: Browse their feed, interact with the posts, tap on a hashtag to disover posts related to a theme, start following someone etc. 

Goals and metrics:


  • % of DAU who who have used hashtags

Usage and Engagement

  • #DAUs of hashtag users
  • #Hashtags per post
  • #Hashtags per day
  • #Posts per Hashtag
  • Distribution of hashtags per category
  • Increase in activity on posts (views, likes, comments, shares, followers) with and without hashtags
  • A/B tests: Did it lead to an increased creation of posts, increased time spent per user, increased number of sessions per week
  • # of times a recommendation works vs. a custom one created by a user


  • Weekly reuse of this feature

Counter Metrics:

  • Gamification by users to get more activity on their posts
  • Incorrect categorization
  • Time taken to create post i.e. how many times do users create post and stop while being in the middle of adding hashtags
North Star Metric: #Hashtags used per day, #Posts per hashtag
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by (60 points)
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