How to pick good hashtags for Instagram

19 May, 2021 | Podcast, Season 5

Are you looking for the best hashtags to use on Instagram? Then you’re in the right place!

Welcome to episode 75 of The Whin Big Podcast, and this week, Katie shares the latest insight, advice and tips for finding and using the best hashtags for your business on all your Instagram Reels, posts and stories.

Let’s get into the episode!

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Hashtag Strategy for Small Businesses on Instagram

“What hashtags should I use on Instagram?” is one of the most popular questions we get asked by clients and Instagram followers alike. Let’s dive in for a complete guide on using hashtags for Instagram marketing in 2021.

We talked about Instagram hashtags last year, in episode 38, where we dedicated an episode to all things hashtag research. In the episode, Katie took us through the nuts and bolts of researching the best hashtags for your business to create a helpful list to use in your Instagram posts. 

“Having a list is not the same as having a strategy, so let’s take a closer look at how to build an Instagram hashtag strategy that works for your business.”

Step 1: Use Hashtags from each of these 3 perspectives

When building your hashtag list and choosing which hashtags to use in each post, there are three important angles to focus on. Your hashtags should describe:

Your customers

These are hashtags your customers will most likely use themselves. We use #scottishbusiness and #uksmallbusiness because they describe a segment of our customer base. It’s a great way to build or reach a newer following of customers who will be in the market for your offer.

Your topic

Hashtags like this are essential because they are what people will search for when they need the service, offer, information, joke or story you deliver. For example, for The Whin’s Instagram account (@thewhinco), we might use #instagrammarketingtips on a Reel or post so that people in need of advice in this area will be able to find our video.


Hashtags like this will help you find peers or community with people with similar businesses, life experiences or an audience as yours. It’s hard to grow an audience through hashtags and the algorithm alone, so collaborating with similar accounts is a great way to share your audiences and get more reach.

How many hashtags to use?

With 30 hashtags at your disposal, you might be tempted to choose ten hashtags from each perspective for every post. Not so fast!

Depending on your broader marketing strategy, you’ll want to use one hashtag theme more than the others.

Want to build relationships with your audience over time? Use more hashtags about your customers.

If your customers search for your product or service without needing to know you really well, use more hashtags about your topic.

If you’re aiming to become a leader in the industry you work in, hashtags that describe you are key.

Step 2: Choose the hashtags that work best with your pictures

The photos, graphics or video style you use in your post will impact how well your hashtags perform.

Make sure you add a ‘notes’ column in your hashtag research spreadsheet that captures the type of images that come up in the top tab for each hashtag when you search for it.

Some image and hashtag combinations

  • Podcasting hashtag brings up lots of recording selfies and podcast graphics.
  • Product themed hashtags mostly have product themed photos. Pay attention to the details – are they professional pics, or quick snaps? Ecommerce standard white background or styled a different way?
  • Even two similar hashtag types can have different imagery. #marketingcoach has lots of text-only images giving advice, whilst #marketingexpert has less text graphic and more photos.

Why is this important?

The whole point of using hashtags is to put your content in front of more people. Selecting hashtags that suit your images is one way to get your posts in front of the RIGHT people, who actually need your content.

Step 3: Always include a few new-to-you hashtags

If you’re serious about growing your audience through hashtags, you need to use loads of different hashtags in your posts, and use new-to-you hashtags on every post. You can just pick 30 good ones and use them over and over.

If you’ve got great content that serves your ideal customer, you want to focus on a wide variety of tags that are relevant to your content.

Can you repeat hashtags?

Of course! You are likely going to have hashtags you use most frequently – and that’s fine because you’re trying to build a community of engaged followers on Instagram. But it’s vital to find new hashtags each time to extend your reach.

Aim for four new hashtags on every post (keep a list on your spreadsheet!) – and if you post three times per week, you’ll have used 600 new hashtags in a year. That’s a lot of opportunities for connection!

How often to use new hashtags

Make a note of every hashtag you use on your Instagram hashtag research spreadsheet, and add four new ones every time you post. If you build this into your activities each week, you’ll have used hundreds of hashtags over the course of the year – which gives you hundreds of opportunities to show up for your customer.

Hashtag research in 4 easy steps.

Hashtags are an excellent way to build your community and find great new accounts and people to grow your audience (and business) with.

When it comes to winging your hashtags, you might find you’re doing yourself out of a lot of opportunities, so take some time out to research the best hashtags for your business and put them to good use.

Click on the link below to listen in to Episode 38, grab your free Instagram Research Spreadsheet, and follow the four easy steps to get the best hashtags for your business.

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