• Introduction

  • Hashtags

    • Don't Be Too General

    • No Spammy Nonsense

    • 20-60-20

  • Geotags

    • Create a Location

    • Engage

    • Encourage Sharing

  • Tag-O-Matic

  • Recap



In the last lesson we learned all about branding, design and themes.  Today we have an entire lesson devoted to hashtags - and YES, hashtags are THAT important.

OK, let's get to work!


Let's dive into hashtags!  Years ago when I first started seeing hashtags I'll be honest.  I thought they were seriously annoying.  As a designer who loves all things beautiful, hashtags were a huge eye sore to me.  But hashtags are SUPER important to your business and I'll tell you why.

Hashtags are the very things that make your content visible to others.  Think about a book store.  Let's say you need information about cake baking.  You don't know EXACTLY which book title or author you need.  But you don't have to know those things.  There is a whole area in the book store JUST for baking right?

This is the very thing hashtags do.  They help users on Instagram find the content they are searching for.  Perhaps even content they do not know they yet need!  Enter the beauty of hashtags.


Hashtag Rules:

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags on a single post.  You can spend countless hours researching how many hashtags are ideal and come up with 100 different answers.  If you're just starting out, I think 10 is a nice number and works nicely for the scenario we are about to work through.  But play around and see what works for your business.

Don't Be Too General

Using hashtags correctly takes a little bit of trial and error.  I recommend you try to avoid hashtags that are WAY too general or popular.  Examples might be #love #photo #marketing.  The problem with using these are 2 fold.  

  1. Your posts get lost in a sea of millions of other photos.

  2. You invite more spammy comments and fake accounts.

For example, for a while I was always using the hashtag #marketing.  I'm a digital marketer and one of the services I offer is social media management.  If you look at the hashtag #marketing, you'll see that as of today, there are over 20 MILLION marketing hashtags.  Additionally, guess who I was attracting to those posts?  You guessed it, other marketers. 


No Spammy Nonsense

Speaking of spammy comments and fake accounts, I know a lot of people and businesses really want to increase their follower count.  But honestly, this is a vanity metric.

By vanity metric I mean that a lot of people participate in spammy groups that trade likes for likes or "free likes on Instagram."  But this is just a number.  And do you really want thousands of fake likes on your account?  Or do you want real fans that engage with you and your brand?

Not to mention, Instagram is getting smart and the algorithm knows when you have real, engaged fans, or when you have a bunch of bots liking your account.


The 20-60-20 rule represents about the percentage of hashtags that you want to include in each post for 3 different categories:

  1. 20% Product Description Focused

  2. 60% Customer Focused

  3. 20% Community / Influencer Focused

Product Description Focused

For our scenario, let's continue with the cake baking theme.  Let's say we are a small, boutique kitchen store including a line of cake bake-ware and tools and we are posting a product shot of our icing piping accessories.  Using the 20-60-20 rule, we want to come up with a few hashtags that actually describe the product.  I'm going to use the following:

  • #piping

  • #icing

I looked both of these up on Instagram and the feed was exactly what I was wanting to see.

Customer Focused

Now I'm going to find about 6 hashtags that are customer focused.  This is where you need to become an EXPERT in your target audience.  What kind of lifestyle do they lead?  What inspires them?  Here are some examples I might use for hashtags in this category:

  • #bakers

  • #bakerylife

  • #bakersofinstagram

  • #cakeboss

  • #cakecakecake

  • #cakeinspiration

In my own example, I quickly realized I was only attracting other marketers to my posts.  My ideal client is a small business owner, and probably a creative.  If I am posting a tip to help my target audience learn how to queue their social media, I might use the following hashtags in the Customer Focused category:

  • #smallbusinessowner

  • #girlboss

  • #productivityhacks

  • #solopreneur

Community / Influencer Focused

This last section of hashtags is all about finding influencers in your market and becoming involved in the business community you are a part of.  This will increase your visibility, but also will help you network with other industry leaders.  These hashtags connect like-minded users around specific ideas and posts.  Examples might include:

  • #smallbusiness

  • #thenameofyoursmalltown

  • #girlboss

  • #communityovercompetition

I'm a huge proponent of being involved in your business community.  Giving back to your peers, networking, and building a "net" of work friends can be such a lifesaver in business.  



Make sure you use geotags when appropriate in order to be discovered locally.  You can tag the city you are in, or even the venue on your post.  Locations not only have their own feed, but also you can use the location sticker in your stories and that becomes part of the location's story.

Geotags put a physical location to content, which brands can ultimately take advantage of to engage with users. If you have a storefront, or physical location, you can see all the various content tagged to your location.

Create the Location

Is there no geotag for your location? Create one through Facebook’s “Create the Location” setting in your Facebook account. Simply go to create a new post on Facebook, click “Check In” and enter your brand’s name. From here, you set up information about your brand and once submitted, you can search Instagram to see your result. Use the same named location as much as possible to build content around the location so others will be encouraged to share as well.


Maybe  you already knew about this powerful tool and have been using this for your brand.  Awesome!  Now, be sure that you are monitoring your geotag and interacting with customers when they use it.

To do this, go the the Search in Instagram, make sure you are on the Locations tab, and type in your geotag.  The results page will show the most popular posts on top followed by a section of most recent.  This is where you can see what your audience is posting.  Don't be afraid to hop on and interact!

This is a powerful tool for local businesses!

Encourage Sharing Content to Your Location or Hashtag

Don't be afraid to encourage users to share via your geotag.  Some users might be timid to post to your location - particularly if there’s little content there. The best thing to do in this situation is promote your geotag and encourage users to share.

A simple "share and tag us at #geolocation and we might feature YOUR post next!" is all it takes.


Tag-O-Matic is the best app I have found for organizing my hashtags.  It makes it very easy to find hashtags and what I really love is that you can then save favorites making it super simple to add hashtags to your posts.


Today you learned more than you ever wanted to know about hashtags.  Hashtags are what make you discoverable to your potential audience.  Using the right hashtags makes all the difference.  Start expirementing with hashtags and see what works for you and your business.

 Questions? Shoot me an email below!

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