Do you find the whole concept of hashtags mystifying? Wondering if you should even use them? And if so, how to make them effective for your business? I’ve got you covered.
Here I’m diving into answering the 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions I receive on the topic of hashtags. So let’s get started!
This depends on your social media goals, but if your goal includes reaching an audience of people interested in your product or service, the answer is yes.
I believe there’s two different approaches to using hashtags and both are effective in different ways. Again, it depends on your goals. Let me break these down for you.
What I call the “macro approach” to hashtags is taking a big picture view. This is when you are using broad and general hashtags connected to your area of expertise, for example #wedding #weddingplanning #weddingmakeup #florist #flowers #weddingvenue #jewellery and so on.
The pros of this approach is that these hashtags are well used and appeal to a wider audience as, theoretically, anyone interested in these categories could be searching these hashtags and therefore find your content and start following you. If your goal is to attract a wide audience and increase your follower numbers, regardless of their location, general hashtags can be useful.
The cons of this approach is when a hashtag has hundreds of thousands (or millions) of results, it means your piece of content is a “small fish in a huge pond” and is bound to get lost quickly. Think of it as trying to stand out in a Google Search but you have limited control over your SEO! The other potential downside is attracting an audience that is so broad or remote (relative to your physical location) they might never be a client of your business. Remember: More followers doesn’t necessarily equal more business.
The “micro approach” as I call it, is taking a more targeted method to your hashtags and seeking out a niche audience for your content and business. Depending on whether location is relevant to your business or not, you could take this to the level of hyper-local marketing and use hashtags that specifically target people based on their area. If we were to take the hashtags from our macro approach and turn them micro or hyper-local, these might look like #coastalwedding #vancouverweddingplanner #okanaganmakeupartist #destinationweddingflorist #ikebanaflowers #sydneyweddingvenue #jewellerymaker
The pros of this approach is the potential to attract quality followers who have displayed a genuine interest in your content. If you’re a floral designer working in a particular area, one of your social media goals is undoubtedly to attract an audience who have the potential to use your services, in which case this hashtag approach would be beneficial for you. Micro hashtags generally have less results when being searched, meaning your content will be much easier for people to find and typically be displayed for longer, rather than disappearing in a matter of minutes—as will be the case when using hashtags with millions of followers.
A con of this approach is it might take longer for you to experience the type of social media growth you aspire to.
You know your business and your goals best, but I typically recommend a combination of macro and micro hashtags. Create hashtag groups or categories so you can alternate your use of hashtags depending on the content being shared. For example, for The Strategy Studio I have broad hashtags groups specific to small business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and women in business, and I’m then able to tweak each of these to incorporate a combination of macro and micro hashtags as relevant. (As my business isn’t location-specific, the hyper-local approach isn’t as relevant for me.)
There sure are… but I’ll keep it brief.
Community hashtags, such as #thatsdarling (originating from Darling magazine) and #communityovercompetition (initiated by Rising Tide Society) are hashtags that connect like-minded users around a specific subject. You can tap into communities by using these types of hashtags, or even create your own for your community.
Branded hashtags are hashtags unique to your business, whether that’s your business name, a tagline, or something connected to your brand identity.
Project hashtags (I made this title up… no idea what they’re actually called!) are similar to branded hashtags. They’re a great way for your audience to follow along and see a catalogue of content connected to a particular project, such as a home renovation or branding project, for example.
Research! There’s no shortcut or magic solution to this, but it is VERY easy to do. Start searching hashtags on your relevant social media platforms and pay attention to how many results are listed for each and the type of content associated with it.
Any hashtag with millions or hundreds of thousands of results I’d instantly be putting in the “macro” category. Anything with several thousand results probably falls into the micro category. Just be conscious of not going TOO niche. If you start using hashtags that only have 200 results attached to them, chances are no one is ever going to find your content as this isn’t a well used or well-searched hashtag. Look at your colleagues, competitors and other businesses in your “circle of influence” and pay attention to the hashtags they are using.
You can also check out hashtag generator websites like For Display Purposes Only to point you in the right direction of finding hashtags relevant to your area of expertise.
And don’t forget your analytics! Instagram Insights has a handy tool for showing you the number of impressions generated on a post from your hashtag use.
The million dollar question! And it depends who you ask. Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags on any post. Going overboard on the hashtags can look “spammy”, but that’s also why people often post their hashtags as the first comment, rather than in their original caption. It’s also the reason you might see people do something like this in their comments…
[enter mass of hashtags here!]
The dots before the hashtags means Instagram will typically collapse this comment so the hashtags won’t be visible to someone scrolling through your content. This comes down to personal preference and your social media goals and strategy, but I typically keep it under 15 hashtags per post.
Yes, you can. BUT… the photo will still appear on the hashtag page according to the time it was originally posted, not the time the hashtag was added.
Yes! Up to 10 of them.
You sure can. When you search a popular hashtag you’ll notice Instagram displays the results as “Top” (which are the trending or most popular results) and “Most Recent” (which are chronological). In order to get into the “Top” results page, the key is said to be how much engagement a post gets, and how quickly it gets that engagement. If you can post quality content that generates great engagement within a few hours of being posted, you’ll drastically increase your chances of getting featured.
In short? Personal preference. Many businesses find once they’ve become established they no longer need to use hashtags to attract followers as their organic growth from tagging, word of mouth, brand awareness and initiatives and so on is already doing the heavy lifting for them. Others businesses might be at capacity for their services and aren’t actively seeking new business. There are many answers to this question, but the one thing I would say is don’t make your decision about using hashtags based on another business owner’s strategy.