Complete Guide to Hashtags

Hashtags are what create traffic to your Instagram feed. Without them, you’ll be posting without anyone noticing the great work you’re doing. So, you need to include hashtags with every post.

“But what hashtags do I include?”

Choosing hashtags is the next step to increased engagement. However, choosing a group of hashtags to use can be difficult since just about anything can be a hashtag. I’ve hard over and over again that hashtags need their own guide. So here is… the complete guide to hashtags!

Finding your top hashtags

You can include up to thirty hashtags per Instagram post. I would recommend a minimum of five per post and I will include several ways for you to include 30 every time (and not struggle for what hashtags to include).

1. Find hashtags related to your industry.

Check out other accounts on Instagram within your industry to see what hashtags they are using in their accounts. This can give you a great idea of what other people are using so you can include some industry specific hashtags, but avoid others.

Why don’t you want to include all industry specific hashtags?

A fun example I heard the other day was from a jewelry designer. She kept using a designer hashtag specific to her industry, but realized only designers were seeing her work. Since designers are not her target audience, she removed that hashtag from her posts.

Choose hashtags that reach your target audience.

2. Create brand and campaign specific hashtags.

Coming up with your own hashtags can be a lot of fun! You can choose something completely unique to you so that as your posts grow, people can see everything you’ve posted about a specific topic or campaign. I would create a hashtag per campaign and up to 4 hashtags unique to your business. You may not use them every time, but it’s a way to aggregate certain kinds of posts.

What’s a good example of a campaign hashtag?

If you’re looking for some campaign inspiration, read more about these companies’ hashtag campaigns. On that list, you’ll see the pervasive #IceBucketChallenge that dominated your feed a couple years ago.

Create a fun and unique hashtag that showcases your work or user experience.

3. Find hashtags related to your category and product.

Your category and product line can inspire more post-specific hashtags. For example, I am a marketing strategist, but some posts will be related to web design, while others may be social media focused. By including category specific hashtags, you can reach people interested in a specific product or service.

However, in my category I would prefer to include #webdesign over #webdesigntips. #webdesigntips is more likely for other web designers, rather than someone looking for a web designer for their website.

4. Find hashtags related to your specific post content.

If you’re posting about inspiration, landscapes, the ocean, marine life, or whatever else, include hashtags specific to your type of post. If you always have motivational posts, include hashtags related to motivation. Same for any other topic you may be covering.

Vary these types of hashtags per post so you reach new potential audience members every time.

5. Look at what hashtags your competition (or inspiration) is using.

Especially if you are more local, see what other businesses are including. Or, you can check out someone who has your dream following and see what hashtags they are using. By combining a mixture of the two, and even looking for related hashtags, you can put together a list of potential ones that can work for your account.

Find out which posts are engaging potential audience from competitor or inspiration accounts rather than using every hashtag they include.

WARNING: Do your research before using hashtags.

Before using hashtags:

Research who else is using them.

Don’t just include a hashtag without checking who’s using it! This relates to choosing hashtags that your ideal audience is interested in, but also is a great way to avoid being associated with something not on brand. Not all hashtags mean what you think, so please take the time to double check them before including. 

Check the amount of posts are associated with each one.

You want a mixture of popular (1M+ posts), somewhat popular (100K-999K posts), and less popular (<100K posts) hashtags in your mix. For more popular hashtags, your post will be lost more quickly since it’s a rapidly moving feed. For less popular and somewhat popular, your post may be seen by less people but it’s more likely to be seen and stick around.

Don’t do exactly what your competition is doing.

You want to reach new people, not just reach the same people that your competition is selling to. Having a mixture of industry, category, product, and brand hashtags will keep you from reaching the exact same audience.

Ways to find hashtags

Check out the competition (or your inspiration).

This can inspire new hashtag ideas as your influence, followers, and engagement grow.

Use the Instagram search bar.

Searching within Instagram will let you search your chosen hashtag, but it also will supply similar ones. It helps to find similar hashtags that may be misspelled, these can be a helpful way to tag on to a popular hashtag without having as many people posting with it.


This is one of my favorite places to find hashtags (you can also try Googling, of course). After typing in a hashtag that works for you, it will supply similar ones and give you a relative amount of people using it. You can also click related hashtags to take you to additional related hashtags to expand your search.

What hashtags are working for you?

Try the free checkup from Union Metrics. It will let you know which hashtags increase your engagement, what are your most popular posts, and when your audience is online.

How to keep track of your chosen hashtags

Option 1: Keep them in a Word doc on a computer.

If you’re going to be using Later or another online scheduler, putting them in a Word Doc or email draft can make them easily accessible for posts.

Option 2: Save them to a note on your mobile device.

Posting from your phone? Include your hashtags in a note so you can reference them while you’re posting.

Option 3: Use Tagomatic to save your different hashtag groups in the app.

Prefer apps for keeping track of things on your mobile device? Tagomatic will help you save and and search hashtags, as well as copy them over to Instagram for you.