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How hashtags help businesses reach more people on Instagram

Let’s talk about hashtags… because everyone else is, right?!

  • What are they?
  • What purpose do they serve?
  • How do you use them?
  • How many can you use in a post?
  • What is a good strategy for hashtags?

These 5 questions are going to get answered in the next 5-10 minutes (depending on how quickly you skim through or read 😉) and you are going to want to make sure and bookmark this so you can come back to it in the future!

Well my fellow small business owner and online entrepreneur, shall we dive in?

What are hashtags?

Hashtags (n) a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify digital content on a specific topic. (source Oxford Language).

So essentially, it’s a special way that social media sites can find and identify content on their platforms. 

This is especially handy if you are trying to search for something on the vast content space that is Instagram or Twitter because simply using a word in your post won’t tell the social media site anything special about your content. But the moment you add the hash sign (#) infront of a word, that entire post is flagged for that word and anyone can find it.

Take for example you are making about an event your business will be setting up a booth at in your local city next month and you say…

ABC Embrodiery Co is excited to be one of the featured booths at the upcoming Cityville Block Party located in the city center on August 20, 2021. We will have our custom made clothing, embroidered blankets and hand towels, as well as we will be available for taking custom orders. Come out, visit our booth, take a picture with us and be sure to tag us on Instagram that you stopped by the booth to be entered into our drawing!


Now… that’s a pretty good post if I do say so myself. Very informative. Inviting. Using good keywords for this specific business. BUT, it’s missing hashtags so unless someone is already following your business page, it’s highly unlikely that this post will reach beyond your existing audience.

So what you would do this case is you could choose to add # before some of your main keywords in the post:

ABC Embrodiery Co is excited to be one of the featured booths at the upcoming #CityvilleBlockParty located in the city center on August 20, 2021. We will have our #custommade #clothing, #embroidered #blankets and #handtowels, as well as we will be available for taking #customorders. Come out, visit our booth, take a picture with us and be sure to tag us on Instagram that you stopped by the booth to be entered into our #drawing!

But that makes reading the caption a little difficult because we’re not using to reading sentences with hashtags in them. So what I would suggest is leaving your caption as it is, and adding your hashtags below the post or in the first comment.

Now, before I get ahead of myself let me get on to the next question…

What purpose do hashtags serve on social media?

Plain and simple… hashtags expand your reach and help you get your content in front of more people who would usually never see your posts. 

Hashtags will absolutely boost your reach. 

I know that it feels a lot better when you get a like or comment on your post.

(It’s all about the dopamine hits these days…)

But the name of the game is REACH! Think about TV commercials, billboards, youtube video ads, etc. Sure… do they want to see some ROI on that investment? Of course! But it’s usually not the prime objective. The objective is AWARENESS. Reach = Brand Awareness

Reach refers to the total number of different people or households exposed, at least once, to a medium during a given period. (source Wikipedia)

Hashtags help you target your niche audience

Because you can LITERALLY hashtag anything these days… you can bet that you can find your target audience pretty easily by using hashtags.

When I say USING… I mean both in your content posts and in doing some lead gen activities as well.


I.E. Say your target audience is a middle-aged woman who enjoys knitting while sitting in her rocking chair on her wrap-around porch with lemonade on her side table while she watches her kids run around the yard playing with their dogs. If you’re ABC Embroidery and you have handmade household cloth items for sale that are up “Sally’s” alley… then you can bet that searching hashtags that she is probably using on Instagram is a great way to find her!



If you haven’t noticed yet… it’s VERY important to make sure you have identified your target audience and your niche. Your hashtag strategy being successful heavily depends on you knowing WHO you are trying to reach and connect with by using hashtags.

So if you haven’t figured out who your target audience is yet… then that’s really where we need to start. Book a strategy session with me and we will co-create your target audience personas, and we can even build out your hashtag strategy together. 

How do you use hashtags in a post?

There are three primary ways I recommend using hashtags. Now there’s no “rules” to how you use them, but the point here is that you make sure your reader doesn’t have to struggle to read whatever it is that you are writing (especially if you’re trying to connect with your audience).

  1. Put the hashtags at the bottom of your post by putting some separation between them and your content. 
    1. I.e. I put a few periods in place vertically down and then list out my hashtags below that to give some separation.
  2. Put the hashtags in the first comment of your post whether manually right after you make the post or if you are using a scheduling tool like Buffer or Planoly then you can schedule this action out ahead of time when you are batching out all of your posts.
  3. Use hashtags on Posts, Reels and IGTV!


How many hashtags can you use on Instagram?

Easy answer. 30. 30 Hashtags is the limit with Instagram.

The follow-up question I usually get… “Okay Danielle, but how many should I use?” 

My answer? 30. Always use 30. 

You get them. So if you don’t use them, you’re just missing opportunities in my opinion.


What is a good strategy for hashtags on Instagram?

Now the moment you have waited for… 

This question right here brings up some of the biggest points of debate in the world of social media marketing. 

I will just tell you straight up, there’s no perfect strategy. There are some that work better than others. But nothing is perfect. 

I do believe that you need to embrace the fact that mastering social media strategies is an ongoing science and process… so be open to always trying new things.

But we can begin here at least!

I am going to use a visual to help with this hashtag strategy more than just explaining it since it feels more to me like a math equation. 


30 = 6 x 5 Strategy

  • 30 hashtags available to use
  • 6 categories
  • 5 hashtags per category

6 Categories

  • Your Expertise
  • Your Segment
  • Your Brand Style
  • Your Content
  • Your Location
  • Today’s Day 

Use hashtags that have between 10,000-500,000 uses (THIS IS A GOLD MINE)

This is the best kind of hashtags you should use to grow your business online!

Example of how to know how many uses a hashtag has:

Go to the search button on your Instagram Account and type in a hashtag you want to check uses on. Once you see your hashtag click on it and at the top you will see the # of uses.

In summary, hashtags - when used properly and effectively - can maximize your reach on Instagram like it is NOBODY’S BUSINESS! Always use the full 30, be strategic about what you’re using as your hashtags, keep them between the 10k-500k uses and you should be well on your way to increased engagement and reach!!


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