The Scoop on Hashtags for New Businesses

The Scoop on Hashtags for New Businesses

hashtags to use on instagram

One of the most frequently asked questions by new clients is, “What’s the deal with hashtags?” The question is often followed by, “I just don’t get it.” We understand; to someone who is new to the platform, they look messy, almost (dare we say it) spammy, and they’re everywhere on Instagram. But hashtags are VITAL for a successful business presence on Instagram. We’re going to say that again: your business must use hashtags on Instagram, especially when first starting!

Hashtags are one of the biggest ways someone can find you on Instagram. A hashtag (read our blog to learn which other platforms use hashtags) is a clickable discovery tool. Each one has the possibility to bring new traffic to your account and to potentially become a sale or conversion. We suggest everyone explore hashtags by clicking around; the more you use it, the more comfortable you’ll be experimenting with them yourself.

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram Feed

There are 3 locations to use hashtags: your Instagram feed posts, your Instagram Story posts, and your IGTV. Let’s start with the Feed posts.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram Feed posts, but should you? We say yes IF those 30 hashtags are relevant to your audience. The key words being YOUR audience, not just users in general. We’ll get into which hashtags you should use in just a bit. At a minimum, we suggest 12 hashtags. If each hashtag brings you more visitors, why *wouldn’t* you want to use as many as you can?

How to Pick Hashtags for Instagram

We like to develop our clients’ hashtags using 3 types: keywords, niche keywords, and branded.

Keyword Hashtags—these are hashtags that are relevant to your business. If you run a dog biscuit bakery, you would search for hashtags that are widely used in your industry, like #dogtreats or #dogbiscuits. Someone else across the world could be using those terms too because they’re fairly broad. When you search them on Instagram, aim for hashtags that have been used more than 50k times but fewer than 4-5 million times. After 5 million, you’re into “too busy to be seen” territory. Posts with these kinds of hashtags get buried quickly because so many people are using them. They’re usually too broad, like #love (53M posts) or #nature (504M posts). Try to use at least 5 keyword hashtags.

Niche Keyword Hashtags—these are hashtags specific to your specialty. Let’s go back to our dog bakery owner. They can zero in on their audience even more with their hashtag choices. Maybe they specialize in treats for dog’s birthdays and use #dogbirthdaytreats, #dogbdaycakes or #bdaytreatsfordogs. Or maybe the specialize in CBD treats–#cbddogtreats would be a much more specific audience than #dogtreats. You can also use your location to hone in, like #michigandogbakery or #royaloakdogbakery. Shoot for 5 niche hashtags!

Branded Hashtags—these hashtags are specific to your business. It could be your tagline (Think of Nike’s #justdoit) or simply your brand with a hashtag. We like to use #greatscottcontent for our posts. We suggest using 1-2 of these per Instagram post.

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram Story

Instagram Stories has two ways to include hashtags: if you use the Stickers option, you only get ONE hashtag. If you use the text option, you can use up to 10 hashtags; we, however, recommend limiting it to 1-3 hashtags so it doesn’t look too cluttered.

Sticker hashtags–you only get one!
We recommend 3 hashtags when using the text option

How to Pick Hashtags for Instagram Story

For your Stories, choose keyword hashtags that are popular. You only have 24 hours to capture users’ attention, so niche or branded hashtags may not fare as well as broader ones because there are fewer people searching for it. Aim for hashtags that have been used in more than 100k posts but are still relevant to your audience.

Stories with hashtags can potentially show up in that rainbow circle on the top with a # sign

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on IGTV

Just like your Instagram Feed, IGTV allows for 30 hashtags in the description of your video. Again, the more you use that are relevant for your audience, the better. Just because #love is popular doesn’t mean you should be using it…and just because you’re a mortgage broker, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily use #mortgage (for the most part, the only people using #mortgage in their caption are other mortgage brokers!). Instead, think about what your ideal client would be posting about or searching for on the platform, such as #firsthome, #homeownership, #savingup, or #dreamhome. Be realistic and do the research. Visit the hashtags before you use them to make sure your audience is actually there.

Learn Which Hashtags Perform the Best

When you read your insights for each post, you can see how many people found your post through your hashtags. Pay attention to the posts with the most reach and engagement. Take a look at what your competitors are using and which of their posts have the highest engagement—which hashtags are they using that you’re not? If you’d like help developing your hashtag list, reach out to us.


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