HASHTAGS: How to Find and Use Them Properly in Your Social Media Strategy

Ah, the infamous hashtag! How can a slew of words with no spaces and a little pound sign affect your post’s ability to be successful and reach the masses?  

Well, these wonderful little tools are used more like a search engine tool inside of Instagram. For instance, I can go into Instagram and search #horse and see all relevant posts that include that particular hashtag. This makes it so people can browse their interests, and that also means your posts will be seen by those that are actively looking for posts with those keywords. 

Now you may be wondering, how many do I use? 

Where do I find these tags?   

{hint: if you are an equine business, snag a free list of 95 horse hashtags HERE}

How do I know which ones to use? 

Do I use the same ones?

Do not sweat it! I am going to walk you through exactly how to pick out which hashtags, how many, and how to use them! 

1. How many do I use?

On Instagram specifically, you can use hashtags on both your story posts and timeline posts. Let’s see the recommended numbers for each:

Traditional timeline posts have a max of 30 hashtags total and are highly suggested that you use between 15-30 tags per post. The more searchable options attached to your post the better your chance of being seen. So in other words, max that bad boy out, and let’s maximize your exposure!  

However, with stories, it is a bit different. You can use up to 11 total hashtags but it is not recommended. On stories, I suggest sticking with THREE really good but general tags so that you are easily searchable. This is better because you can post so many stories in a day versus too many on your timeline and you want to avoid appearing spammy.

2. Where do I find these tags?

When you get into the Instagram platform on a desktop you can simply use the search bar at the top of the page. Now if you are like many people who use their Instagram app on their phone you can click on the magnifying glass icon and search from there. 

Type in# and whatever keyword you are wanting to use and you will see hashtags pop up and the number of times they have been used right under the hashtag itself. Do not be scared to search for any word that you might associate with your brand, product, or service.

3. How do I know which ones to use?

Now, let’s get down to what’s really important. 

What will make your post successful?

When choosing hashtags it can seem impossible to really know which ones are going to get you noticed, but there is a formula that will give you an advantage!

When choosing your hashtags you will want to start with 3-5 tags that are in the 500k to 1 million posts range. These are the ones that will give your post tons of views and potential likes right from the start. This can bring in some followers that like your content, but may not be dedicated to your brand just yet. 

Next, you are going to use 5 hashtags that are in the 10k to 500k range. These also, like the set before, will give you another good push of activity for a few hours to days at a time keeping you relevant. The people that find you here are those that scroll through generalized topics on Instagram.  

Then you are going to use 3-5 specific hashtags relating to YOUR product or service!  These are the ones that are going to be targeted toward your ideal customer or client and are those that specifically search for a product or service. This set keeps you relevant in your niche field. 

Finally the magical 1-2 BRAND SPECIFIC hashtags. These are the ones directly related to your business and can be used by your dedicated followers to find you or refer someone to you outside of your Instagram name of course. For example #yellowbarnmedia. 

4. Do I use the same ones?

It is a best practice to not use the same hashtags repeatedly but to always be mixing them up. I like to suggest using a Google Doc to store all your hashtags in sets, so you can easily copy and paste to posts that are relevant to that specific set. Many Instagram schedulers allow you to create files of your hashtags to easily cut and paste while scheduling your posts. 

Not to mention by using a variety of relevant hashtags you are going to be broadening your reach to multiple viewer groups that could be searching for your business. You can reuse hashtags in other sets but always make sure to switch out some as Instagram will pick up on that and hide your posts. 

All in all, take your time and focus on what relates to your business and brand. Remember anything you do on social media takes time to get traction. This is not an overnight success formula but more so a long-term strategy to keep you relevant. 


Things on social media are ever-changing. 

Just because this blog or another blog recommends a strategy does not mean it will always work perfectly or rapidly for you, but it’s a starting point.

More than anything you will find your greatest success when you TEST AND MEASURE it all after putting a plan into practice. What works for you, might not work for your friend’s company. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Just ensure you keep a record of your insights and analyze what works each month. From there it’s simple. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. #easypeasy

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