Hashtags – whats the deal?

A hashtag allows you to categorise your content into interests. This means people on social media can view or follow content they are interested in.

For us as small business owners, we can use hashtags to reach new people and show them our relevant content (with a bit of work!)

I know I’m a social media manager and I am glued to Instagram mainly, but I do follow my local hashtags #Huddersfield #Slaithwaite #Golcar for example (as well as Facebook groups) to keep up to date with what’s going on. I have seen new businesses that I am yet to go to but they are in my head as I have seen them – they exist! Once I see them and I like them, I follow them and see more stuff. Then if they are amazing and I cant resist, I probably will buy and tell someone else about it.

Hashtags are part of a strategy that you need to nurture to get the best results. You also need to get a few other things right – your branding/tone of voice and content that is engaging and resonates with your audience BUT use them as a free tool!


Its important to use hashtags in the right way on each platform. Instagram and Twitter are most commonly known but they can also be used on LinkedIn.

They aren’t commonly used in Facebook as people don’t tend to search and follow hashtags, so personally I wouldn’t bother unless its a branded hashtag where you encourage people to share information eg HuddersfieldBusinessWeek 2021

Instagram allows you to use up to 30. My advice – use them all, with one caveat. They must all be relevant to your content and the audience you are trying to reach. On Instagram Stories you can use up to 10. Personally, I think it looks a bit shit of you are filling up your story with hashtags to be seen. It kinda detracts away from the point – telling a story but definitely try a couple and see what results you get back. 

Twitter and LinkedIn – only use a few as its considered to look a bit spammy. LinkedIn is definitely a great platform to target locations, job types and industries as people use the platform to connect with individuals in their network. 

Where do you start? The key points to remember here is to find ones relevant to your audience – what are they most likely to follow? what are they interested in? Also you want to use ones that aren’t to big or too small. #love for example has 1.8billion posts and and grows by the second, so I just wouldn’t bother. You need to find hashtags  between 1,000 and 1million to have a chance of appearing but use a couple of biggies if you think its relevant and could get some traction.

Lets use an example – I’m a business coach based in Huddersfield and I target female entrepreneurs. What i really need to think about is what will my audience be following – #Huddersfield or #HuddersfieldBusiness #YorkshireBusiness perhaps? Im a coach so I might use #brandingcoach #personalcoaching depending on my specialism. I would then be thinking about what are my audiences motivations for using a coach or relevant hashtags that resonate with them #Femalefounder #personalbranding #selfemployedlife #businesshelp #ladiesinbusiness for a broader sweep.

You might then want to really niche and think about the types of businesses they are in and who your dream client would be, for example #socialmediamanager #virtualassistant #businessmanager #digitalmarketing #womenintechnology 

Someone who follows personal branding might not be on your doorstep, but we don’t have to do face to face business and the more people you reach and then they engage with your post, then the more the algorithm responds and shows to more people. It will move up the feeds hang around a bit longer if popular.

Mix them up – don’t use the same ones every single time. My tip is to have 2 or three sets of hashtags saved in your phone notes or scheduling tool and add on additional hashtags depending own the content of the post. Keep reviewing those sets regularly as things change! 

I’m going to use Instagram as my example. There are tools you can use to find hashtags but they aren’t always reliable or up to date. for example the tool I use didn’t find anything ‘lockdown’ or ‘covid’ related. I find the best way is to use the Instagram app and do some good old fashioned searching with a pen and paper nearby or using the notes in your phone

On the Instagram app go to the explore tab. Type in a keyword first that describes your post. Im searching for #PersonalisedToyBox in my example. It will then show other words containing those characters, but if i click on that hashtag it will give me related hashtags. Its a bit like wikipedia. You find one thing and get sucked in.

The things you want to be checking here are 1) The actual content – is this what your audience will resonate with? 2) how many posts then 3) have a look at the recents – Is there something from the last few days or just tumbleweed? 

Here’s how I do it on Instagram! >

You can create your own branded hashtag so people can not only tag you but use a hashtag. This is good for collecting user generated content for example Oreo used #StayHomeStayPlayful in a lockdown campaign and set tasks such as camping indoors, having a silent disco and baking Oreo brownies. Or you can use at an event so when people are there, they are using the hashtag and you can share with your followers about what a great time then are having for example the Huddersfield Giants WIB event used #GiantsWIB

There are banned hashtags, usually when a group of people start doing something a bit rude! So #ValentinesDay for example is banned on Instagram but #ValentinesDayGifts is OK! Do a quick google search if you are unsure of recently banned hashtags to be aware of. 

And finally, you can’t see specifically which hashtags are performing the best but in your insights you can see how much of your reach (people shown your post) generally came from hashtags, so its good to have a look at the data and break it down! 

Remember hashtags should form part of your strategy to build your audience. Keep showing up, trying different things and do the research! You will get more followers and hopefully the right ones which will engage with you on social media and in ‘real life’.

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