The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags

Find and select the most effective hashtags for your social media strategy to be discovered.

hashtag icon

Hashtags have been embedded into our social use and culture for years.  Reviewing your hashtags regularly on each platform is essential to maximise your reach and discoverability.  But just how do you find the best hashtags to use? And how many should you use them effectively?  Read our ultimate hashtag guide below to review your strategy.

Why do we even need them?

Simply put they help people to find content they are interested in, boosting your reach and in turn your engagement and ultimately discovering your business to have new followers and customers.

Where to find the best hashtags?

There are a few different types of hashtags to consider:

  1. RELEVANCE.   This is after terms that describe exactly what your post is about.   This is becoming the most important for algorithms checking relevance and matching specific content to an interested person.   
  2. SEARCHABLE TERMS.  Think about what your audience is searching for and how they would find you.  These are the kinds of hashtags you need to use.
  3. BRAND SPECIFIC.   Maybe you have created your company name or a campaign for your followers to join in a challenge and help generate UGC.   
  4. INDUSTRY/PRODUCT.  Quite simply defining what you are offering for example #socialmediaaudit.  Keep these short and be prepared to shorten or abbreviate uber-long names.
  5. LOCATION This is really useful for shops or where local trade is really important to you.  For example, #YorkshireBusiness
bbc news instagram post example
@bbcnews uses relevant, searchable and brand hashtags here.

MYTH: You can add a #hashtag in your main caption copy.  Some prefer the neatness of grouping them out of site at the bottom of a post, but it’s not necessary. When you are using ones relevant to your copy, it makes perfect sense to include it in your copy.

Do Hashtag Generators save you time?

They might give you some ideas to research and a starting point, but it’s always worth investing some time in your own research.   Analyse competitors, industry influencers and recommendations from the platforms to create a list to work from regularly. This will save you time moving forward.

How to get discovered with hashtags.

Check the usage size of your hashtags and avoid the overused and popular hashtags.  For example, #love is the most popular with over 1.8 billion uses. How do you think your post will be seen amongst this many?

Look to use hashtags above 50k and under 500k for greater visibility.   Similarly, avoid those with too few uses like 100 for another more effective, especially with a limit on how many hashtags you can use. More on that below.

Check out the hashtag function in Meta Business Suite as it clearly shows the size of a hashtag, specifically for Facebook and Instagram as the usage is different. So a term might be too large on Instagram but be perfect for Facebook!    Find out more about this in our previous blog here.

Pro Tip: Check plurals!  You might find a # with a few too many uses, but add or remove the ‘s’ and this might give you a much more reasonable number and chance to be seen.  

How many hashtags are recommended?

Below is the current guideline for how many to use on each platform. However, we would suggest ‘less is more.’  For example, Instagram allows up to 30 but they have also recommended that this should be just 3-5 hashtags.

FacebookUp to 30 hashtags2-3
InstagramPost/Reels: Up to 30 hashtags3-5
 Stories: Previously limited to 10, although Stories no longer appear in searches. 
LinkedInUp to 101-5
TikTokNo limit, but Twitter recommends no more than 2.3-5
ThreadsNot currently usable for searching.0
You TubeMax. 603-5
X (formerly Twitter)No limit, but Twitter recommended no more than 2.1-2
*Recommendation by Hootsuite.

Pro Tip: Keep a note of your hashtags, and group them into categories that will help save time when you are posting.  We have this list on notes on our Macs and iPhones.

Don’t use the same # on each and every post to give a good mix to reach new audiences and keep the use more relevant to the post.

Measuring the effectiveness of hashtags

Head to your insights to check how your hashtags are performing. Look for common trends on posts that have performed well and keep testing to see which hashtags are working well on each platform.

For example, in Instagram Professional Dashboard head to impressions ‘from hashtags’ to know how many people discovered your post just through your hashtags. 

Adding some key hashtags to your regular searches for social listening will also help you get an idea of the use of the term. 

The measurement may seem basic, with other factors that can affect a post’s performance, but this is currently the best method.

For help with creating a suggested list of hashtags, we offer this as part of our Social Media Audit package.   Simply drop us a line and we can review your platforms, and your current hashtags and help boost your social media performance.

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