How To Get The Most Out Of Instagram With Hashtags

Hashtags help businesses expand their reach, build their brand and establish a community when used properly. Who doesn’t want more of that social media success for their biz!? People and businesses find content, clients, information, customers, partners and contributors through incorporating hashtags into their posts and searching hashtags of interest. The hashtags actually help social media platforms to organize and categorize images, videos and content. Thus the hashtags create a way for your target audience or ideal client to discover your content which otherwise gets lost in the ever-changing newsfeed.

Here’s how it works. Simply place the hashtag symbol (#) in front of a key word or phrase relative to your post and relative to who you are trying to reach. The hashtag becomes searchable by users and allows you to become a part of a larger conversation with a much larger audience.

You are stuck!? OK, 5 Ways to Identify the Optimal Hashtags for your business:

Let’s use an example.

Your business is about healthy eating as a way of life. Your post is about implementing a paleo diet and launching a new avocado oil you are selling that supports this.

  • Categories – Hashtag categories relevant to your post or business i.e. #healthyliving #nutrition #paleodietIMMERSE small SUE files-219-sml
  • Location – Geotag or add locations relevant to your post or business i.e. where you are posting from or the town/city in which your business is based
  • Emotions – Hashtag how what you do makes you feel, how you are feeling that day or how the post topic makes you feel. i.e. #energetic #pure #natural
  • Events – Hashtag the event you are attending/posting from or create a hashtag for an event you have created and are promoting i.e. #UnionSQFarmersMarket #AvocadoBonanza
  • Products – Hashtag your product’s name, type of product it is and what it is used for i.e. #healthfuloils #avocado #paleodiet


3 Do’s of Hashtaging:

Create your own

Hashtags are a great way to generate buzz around what you are doing and your specific brand. You can even identify yours by entering them on Tagboard. I use #Instagallive and you can see the feed here with this hyperlink . Having a custom hashtag allows you to dominate a feed and keep yourself top of mind.

Be relevant. Be aware of the competition. Be thoughtful.

If I am new to the niche, I may not have any idea what the hashtags might look like. However, I might know who the influencers are within that niche. Those may help you know what is trending and also what to stay away from. Once you’ve researched some of your ideas, choose those that are memorable and important in order to create staying power with your followers. Choose a few that can be consistently used and adapted as well. This will make it easier for your customers to follow your conversations.

Refresh to get more mileage

A way to get more use out of older posts that are still relevant is to repost using a combination of fresh hashtags and the ones you have used already.

3 Don’ts of Hashtagging:

No “crashtagging”

Do not just use a hashtag because it has a huge amount of traffic unless it is relevant to your content. For example Nike is one of the most used hashtags but you would be “spammy” if you used that tag on your post about paleo diets.hashtag-300x300

Do not overuse

Don’t weigh your posts down with a crazy amount of hashtags. Your thoroughness will be better served with a more precise selection of 8-10 hashtags regardless of the fact Instagram allows you up to 30. Too many reads like desperate marketing, and is a sure way to lose followers quickly. Some even consider it spam.

Don’t create a long, complex hashtag.

Overly complicated hashtags like #paleodietlifestyleideas are not search-friendly or commonly used, so your post will get buried quickly rather than garnering the attention it deserves. If you want more hashtag yummy goodness please use this link to get my super value-filled hashtag strategy ebook with lots of recommendations on specific hashtags for your business or industry from The Instagram Expert!

This post was supplied by 2014 Social Media Camp Speaker Sue B. Zimmerman.

Sue B. Zimmerman, aka the #InstagramGal and #TheInstagramExpert, is a master at Instagram for Business. She teaches entrepreneurs, business execs, and marketing professionals how powerful Instagram for business can be. Sue B. is the founder of the online Instagram course Insta-Results, the author of the #1 eBook Instagram Basics for your Business, a Speaker and Business Coach. She also is the founder of SueB.Do & Sue B. Zimmerman Enterprise. 


Sean Smith

Sean is Managing Partner in, a Social Media consulting company based in Campbell River, BC. Sean has almost 20 years of experience in the IT industry, from a HelpDesk Manager to business owner. Sean has been active on Social Media platforms, since joining LinkedIn in 2005. Since then he has consulted on the development of Social Media strategies for a wide variety of businesses, from retail to tourism, instructed at workshops, been a guest and keynote speaker at various conferences, has been working as the tech/start-up author for and has recently become the Editor of the Social Media Camp Blog.

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