How to A/B Test Hashtags To Improve Instagram Post Performance

Posted by Team Pose

How to A/B Test Hashtags To Improve Instagram Post Performance

Algorithms, algorithms, algorithms. Instagram is a tricky sea and not everyone has the skill set of the sailor who can navigate those waves right off the get-go. Even though things seem to be constantly changing with Instagram, we can use that as an encouragement to be more on top of our content and not get comfortable with how things are currently going.

Luckily, there are ways you can experiment with your posts to see what works best for your profile in the midst of Instagram’s competitive arena of posts struggling to get the views and recognition!

So let’s talk about A/B Testing.

“A/B testing is a randomized experiment with two variants, A and B. It includes application of statistical hypothesis testing or "two-sample hypothesis testing" as used in the field of statistics.” -Wikipedia

You're probably thinking...what?

A/B testing is when you create two testing groups and pit them against each other to see which one is the most efficient.

For example, in email marketing, you can create the same email to send to subscribers but test which subject line catches eyes and encourages people to open the email best. 

In the world of Instagram though, A/B testing can occur focusing on different things:

  • Hashtags
  • Post Type
  • Caption
  • Location Tag

For now, we’re focusing on hashtags because yes, hashtags can help you expand your reach!

Tips For A/B Testing Hashtags

For starters, you should never use the same group of hashtags for every single post on your Instagram profile. This narrows your potential reach. What you do want to do though is create hashtag groups for different types of content you share on your Instagram profile.

Example: You’re sharing a selfie on Instagram. Hashtags could include (but are not limited to) #selfie, #lotd (look of the day), #ootd (outfit of the day), etc. 

To A/B test hashtags, plan out two posts of the same content type (i.e. selfie versus event post) and create two different hashtag groups that are applicable to those types of posts. It’s important that there’s something that remains constant in your testing (in this case, the post type) so that you’re really focusing on the hashtag performance.

We recommend using the hashtag bank in the Instagram Planner to create hashtag categories for different post types. For this page, write in pencil since hashtag performance could change over time. 

Analyzing the Results


Let’s say you posted two photos (separate posts) while you were on vacation and had two groups of hashtags you were testing that applied to traveling. You let both posts run for 48 hours and you screenshot the post insights. NOTE: It’s important that you get the screenshot in the same time frames. For example, 48 hours after the first post and set of hashtags go up, you take a screenshot of the insights. When the second post and set of hashtags go up, you give it 48 hours before taking a screenshot of the insights to compare. 

For the screenshots of insights above, let the first one represent “A” and the second represent “B”. 

You’ll want to compare the following:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Sends
  • Saves
  • Profile Visits
  • Reach
  • Profile Visits
  • Website Clicks

The results of those bullet points can be compared alongside the Discovery section of the insights. The third to last item will show you how many impressions were captured from hashtags alone. So looking at the insights for both A and B, it’s safe to say that B is the contender here!

Are you ready to improve your hashtag game?

(The Hashtag Bank is Your Best Friend)

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