Hacking Hashtags


Hashtags are a lot like Dorothy’s slippers in the Wizard of Oz, following the rules will take you home (which in this case is social media heaven!). However, it can be difficult to understand how to use them, and it can be so easy to stick with very saturated hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday which would not give your small business the attention it needs.

If you want to understand how to make Hashtags work for you and your brand, keep reading. If you’ve got it all figured out, read it anyway.

Hashtags are content labels. They help people interested in a specific kind of content find it easily. For instance, a quick Instagram search of #Brooklynmakeupartist would reveal posts by Makeup Artists based in the Brooklyn area. Businesses that have made use of this hashtag would show up in the search results. Why? Because the use of that hashtag optimized their posts, making it possible for those in Brooklyn who need MUAs to find them.

Hashtags are an important part of social media visibility because they help people find what they want faster (and in this century, speed is everything!). It helps people become part of communities, and right now, everyone wants a sense of community and belonging. Also, it helps people avoid having to go through content they are not interested in to find what they want.

As a business and a growing brand, it is important to know your Hashtags and use them. However, Hashtags when used wrongly can destroy your brand visibility over a period. So, how can mistakes be avoided?


  1. Know your Target Audience

An understanding of who you are creating for would help when carrying out your hashtag research. A children’s tailor would be sure to use hashtags that would be viewed by mothers, primary caregivers, and older children. This is because these are the people who would either patronize you or influence someone else’s decision to use your services.

  1. Make Use of Your Content Pillars

As a brand, you must know your content pillars. This would not only help you create content but also help you carry out your hashtag research easily. Follow these simple steps: (a) List out your content pillars and underneath each one, list 5-10 words that resonate with these themes. (b) Write each of these words into the Instagram search bar, and the platform would give you hashtag suggestions. Pick those that are between 5,000 posts and 200,000 posts. (c) Pick and choose from your hashtag options when making a post.

  1. Carefully Select Your Hashtags

This would work in line with the last point. Do not just select hashtags because they fall into the number of posts range. Also, check to see if they have been banned, check to see when the last posts were made on the hashtag, also check to see when the most popular posts were posted (anything months or over a year is not a good fit).

  1. Make Sure to Ladder Your Hashtags

Laddering your hashtag means choosing them according to the number of posts within them. If you are a small account looking to grow, stick to mostly smaller-sized hashtags that are under 10k. You can make use of hashtags in the 100-250k range, but they should be in the minority. This is to ensure your posts do not get drowned in the maze.

What Laddering does is that it gives your posts a higher chance to rank in the smaller hashtags and also begin to show up in the larger ones.

  1. Avoid Banned Hashtags

Using a banned hashtag or one that has been repeatedly reported would shadowban your account. You would be making posts, but you would not pop up on anyone’s timeline. Why? The algorithm considers your post a reported post thanks to the hashtag. Save yourself the heartache and make sure to edit your hashtags carefully. To make this easier, you can make use of platforms like Flick, a hashtag research and analytics platform. You have to pay for the use, but there is a free 7-day trial option, so you have time to figure out whether you really want it or not before you pay. All the same, it’s money well spent.


  • Keep your hashtags specific and relevant or you run the risk of having someone reporting your posts. You would also run the risk of your target audience not finding you at all, then there’d be no point to all your trouble.
  • Keep the hashtags to a minimum; Instagram allows you to use 30, but it is advisable to keep it at 25. This is to prevent your posts from looking like spam.

I do hope you have learned a thing or two. If you are a hashtag pro, share some of your tricks in the comments. Also, what do you think of these tips? Have you tried them? Did they work?

I hope you are staying safe and happy! Cheers to hacking your hashtags!