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We all know that social media relies on hashtags to spread content across platforms (except for Facebook), but how do you know which hashtags to use? Did you know some are just spammy and won’t produce actual growth? Finding the perfect hashtags for your business takes a little research, but it can lead to great growth in followers and leads.

Platforms & Hashtags

Instagram: Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, and you can definitely use all of them! This works best when you add the hashtags as a comment after posting, so that the post doesn’t look too spammy (and it keeps it clean when you push through to facebook). I include dots on the comment, so IG automatically hides the entire comment with a “View More” option… also cleans up the look. Here’s how I post the same comment every day:

  1. Create a note on your phone with a period and hit enter for 5 dots
  2. Type all the relevant hashtags (more on that next)
  3. Every time you post on Instagram, highlight the note, copy, and paste it into the first comment (you want to do this quickly, because IG also considers comments in their engagement algorithm: bringing your post to the “Trending” category for that tag)

finding the perfect hashtags for your small business

It looks complicated, but it’s not too tricky once you make it a habit.

Twitter: The stats say 2 hashtags per tweet work the best. I have to admit, I’m not very good at twitter yet (people in my industry still use it, you might not need to depending on your clients). Twitter works best when you’re having a conversation about a trending topic and it groups the conversation by hashtag. You’ll need to do some research to find the popular topics for your community.

Facebook: This doesn’t work… Seriously, hashtags don’t do anything on facebook (even though they show up as links), so just stick to normal words that can be searched… and build engagement through comments on your business page and facebook ads!

Instagram Hashtags

Now for the exciting part: building your community through hashtags! If you think this is just about promoting your own business, you need to change the way you feel about Instagram. You will get more out of the community if you invest some time into it.

Local Hashtags: 

If you look at the hashtags I posted for my own account, you’ll see that I included a few NJ specific tags. I’m not always sure these work for my specific market, but I’ll be there if someone searches for me.

I know it works for my other clients with brick and mortar stores in small towns. They’ll tag the town – #spartanj #andovernj etc – and local residents will find, like the photo, and follow the account. Maybe your city has a specific tag for their marketing (#yeahthatgreenville for Greenville, SC), and they might repost photos from that tag… so do some research for those.

If you’re at a town event, make sure you’re tagging all your photos with the event hashtag because many times the host will repost and encourage followers to find you!

Don’t forget to like and follow other businesses in your town! ESPECIALLY if you’re in a small town. Every other business owner should know who you are! They’ll share the love and follow you back and like your photos.

Industry Hashtags:

I feel like these work especially well for those in the wedding industry. For example, you can use #njphotographer #njweddings #njbride and you’ll get a lot of great responses: obviously using your own state. When I use hashtags like #SEO and #copywriter, I’ve noticed I’m just getting spammy follow-for-follow accounts instead of actual clients. I also use hashtags that attract web designers and entrepreneurs for when they need copy on their websites!

So what is a “spammy hashtag”??? Usually something with millions of posts. Your post will probably get buried in the “most recent” feed and no one will see it. You need to maximize those 30 hashtags and target your exact client! Look for hashtags with only a few thousand posts – they’re getting enough activity, but you’ll have a chance to appear in the trending posts.

Try googling “Best Hashtags for _____” travel bloggers, writers, restaurants, web designers, anything… you’ll find a long list. Go through them and pick out ones that work for your business! Then add them to that note and use them every time!

Other Hashtags: 

A few of the ones I use are part of facebook groups and communities that I’m involved in. I include those, and people from the group will like and comment on the photo. Many magazines will have related tags that you can add to your photo and they lead account might repost or anyone who checks out the tag might find you. Sometimes these may not be your prime clients, but it’s good to have likes and be inspirational for others. For example, Rising Tide Society is a community for entrepreneurs and photographers: I’m in their facebook group so I use the hashtag.

Build Community

Don’t just post and run away. Look for similar businesses or inspirational posts within these hashtags and comment/ like them. You will get more followers this way, AND you’ll make new friends 🙂

Remember, some communities are just more involved than others. My @mostlysewing account gets many more likes than my normal account, because the sewing community LOVES Instagram. Keep trying and posting, and you’ll see the numbers grow. Be authentic and have fun with your posts. You want people to get to know you and be compelled to read your blog/ buy your product because they LIKE YOU.