Grow Your Business

Social Media Guide: Hashtag Strategy

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Hashtags are ubiquitous on social media and have even made their way into verbal conversations, where it's not unusual to hear someone say, "I had such a great day! Hashtag blessed." But are hashtags still relevant to social media marketing, and should you use them? This article will cover everything you need to know about hashtags, including how you can use them to grow your practice.

What are hashtags?

Chris Messina invented hashtags in 2007 with an offhand Tweet suggesting them as a way to categorize conversations. Hashtags add context and allow people to discover people, organizations, movements, and products that interest them around a particular topic. Hashtags can boost your brand's social media reach and engagement on any platform.

Hashtag basics

A good hashtag strategy involves more than just slapping on a few trending phrases. To get the most out of your social media marketing, you need to understand how to effectively use hashtags to reach and engage with your ideal audience.

Hashtags always start with a #

The pound sign (#) marks an element as a hashtag. A hashtag begins with a # and can't include spaces, punctuation, or special characters, although underscores are acceptable.

For example, if you wanted to group posts under the topic of "skincare routine," you could use either #skincareroutine or #skincare_routine. However, you couldn't use #skincare routine.

Make sure your account is public

This may sound basic, but everyone is concerned about protecting their privacy. While you might want to keep your personal social media accounts private, it's imperative that your business social media accounts are public. People can only discover hashtags on public accounts, and the main purpose of your hashtag strategy is to increase your discoverability.

Keep the number of words in a hashtag minimal

The best hashtags are short and easy to remember. Overloading your posts with long hashtags won't help you reach your audience since they aren't likely to be searching for wordy, obscure hashtags.

Use relevant hashtags and avoid anything that is not related to your post

All of your hashtags should relate directly to your post. If you're posting about a specific treatment you're offering, don't include hashtags related to different treatments. You should also avoid highly general hashtags such as #happy or #beautiful, which are meaningless from a strategic standpoint.

Keep a hashtag list handy

Make a list of relevant hashtags that are performing well in your industry for different products and services you offer.

Why are hashtags important?

Hashtags are primarily a discovery tool. They're an excellent way for people to connect with others who share their interests. People use hashtags to keep up with new trends, join or start conversations, promote their services and products, follow breaking news, raise awareness, and more. Here are some strategic ways you can use hashtags to build your practice:

Raise awareness

Partnering with a nonprofit organization can generate goodwill and help raise awareness for important causes. For instance, #thisisskincancer or #sharethefacts are hashtags used by The Skin Cancer Foundation to help raise awareness about skin cancer. When you use these hashtags, you help raise awareness about skin cancer and get your practice noticed by people who might not have been aware of it before.

Increase interactions and encourage audience engagement

When you include hashtags in your post, you become a part of the conversation around that hashtag. But don't stop at tagging your posts. Make sure you contribute to the conversations that arise. Not only is this a great way to grow your audience, but it's also an excellent method for getting authentic feedback from your clients.

Build brand awareness and exposure

Using a branded hashtag can raise your brand's visibility. This is most effective when it's part of a larger marketing effort. For instance, Coke started the hashtag #ShareACoke in conjunction with rolling out personalized Coke bottles.

Attract your target audience

Using relevant hashtags can help your audience find you. People can follow hashtags and accounts on most social media sites. You may show up in the timelines of people who follow relevant hashtags. You should tag your posts with hashtags that will appeal to your target audience, provided they're relevant to your post.

Increase your organic reach

Using hashtags can help increase your organic reach. Ideally, you want to rank high for hashtags specific to your niche. By targeting smaller hashtags, you have a better chance of ranking higher than if you target hashtags with millions of results. You'll be better off ranking near the top of a hashtag with 20,000 results than in the middle of one with millions.

Research competitors and ideas for content

Hashtags are also effective for researching competitor analysis and generating content ideas. You can keep up with new trends and breaking news by following your industry's hashtags. You should analyze your social media metrics to get an idea of what works best for you, but analyzing your competitors' strategies will also let you see what's working for them.

This type of research can show you:

  • The best time of day to post
  • Client pain points
  • How to talk to your audience
  • Content ideas
  • How you can differentiate your brand

Why hashtags are beneficial to a provider

There's almost no end to the number of ways you can use hashtags as a provider. In addition to following general aesthetic hashtags to increase your reach and engagement, you can also use the following types of hashtags:

Product/Service Hashtags

Use these to promote specific products and services. The advantage of using these hashtags is that you can tap into a much wider audience using the manufacturer's hashtags. You'll become part of a wider community and can attract clients looking for these products and services locally.

Industry Niche Hashtags

Include several hashtags unique to your industry so people interested in your industry can find your posts. This is a good opportunity to connect to other professionals and clients who follow aesthetic trends and events.

Location Hashtags

Add a location to your hashtag so that people who are looking for your products and services locally can find you. This is also an excellent opportunity to network with other local businesses and practices. You may find many opportunities to cross-market to each other's audience.

Event Hashtags

When you participate in events, event hashtags allow people who saw you at the event to follow up. You can also follow up with others who participated and expand your reach.

Branded Hashtags

Branded hashtags, both your own and other brands, let you tap into the existing audience for a brand. You can use the branded hashtags of the products you sell or the services you provide to benefit from their current customers.

Acronym Hashtags

As texting becomes a prevalent form of communication, the use of acronyms continues to grow. From AMA (ask me anything) to TBT (throwback Thursday), some acronym hashtags can be popular conversation starters. Find out which ones are popular with your audience and create some posts around them.

How to find hashtags that work best for your practice

You'll need to research to find hashtags that work best for your audience. If you already have an avatar for your ideal client, that should give you a good starting point to figure out where they like to hang out on the internet and what kind of content they consume. Here are some additional ways you can find high-performing hashtags:

Keep an eye on trending hashtags

Spotting the right hashtag at the right time can result in your social media account going viral and bringing you many likes, followers, and new clients.

Check out the competition

Look into your competitors to see what hashtags they're using. When you're researching, notice what hashtags they use and the response their posts generate. Take particular notice of hashtags that create a lot of engagement. Here are the steps to doing a competitor hashtag analysis:

  • Determine who your competitors are. Try to identify a cross-section of big and small competitors, as well as direct and indirect competitors. Start with three to five accounts and include at least one industry leader.
  • Examine the metrics of your competitors, including follower counts and follower growth.
  • Analyze the performance of their posts. How often do they post? How much engagement do posts generate? Do some perform significantly better than others?
  • Make a list of the highest performing posts, including what type of content it is and what hashtags were used.

Tools for finding the best hashtags

While most social media platforms have built-in tools to help you analyze hashtags, third-party tools can also help you develop a strategy.

Tracking and analyzing hashtags

There are paid and free options for tracking and analyzing hashtags, with most offering a free trial before you commit. Some of the most popular hashtag trackers include:

How to tell if a hashtag is shadowbanned

Banned hashtags are those that users have reported because they violate the community guidelines. Posts containing banned hashtags will be hidden, negating all of your hard work. The list of banned hashtags changes frequently, and they aren't always what you'd expect. Sometimes one version of a hashtag will be banned while another is not.

You can check for banned hashtags by searching for the hashtag in the search bar or explore tab. If the hashtag is banned, you're likely to get a message that tells you posts with that hashtag are hidden because of community guideline violations.

Why using less popular hashtags is beneficial

The old adage about being a big fish in a small pond is a good one to keep in mind when planning your hashtag strategy. If you tag your posts with extremely popular hashtags, your content will quickly get buried in the flood of new posts. On the other hand, you don't want to use hashtags that are so obscure no one is searching for them.

Number of hashtags to use in a post

Each platform has different rules about the maximum number of hashtags you can use, but that's not always the ideal number for maximum reach. In the section below, we'll cover each platform in detail and discuss how many hashtags you should use on each one.

Hashtag 101 for every platform

Not all social media channels are the same. Although a good overall hashtag strategy will work for every platform, there are some tweaks you should make to get the best performance from each. This section will give tips for the most popular platforms so you can optimize your strategy.


Instagram has over two billion monthly active users. Hashtags are widely used on Instagram and can dramatically affect your reach and engagement. Instagram makes it easy to find trending hashtags. Simply check the "Explore" page. You can also search for hashtags from the search bar to find out what's ranking high with the hashtags you're following.

Optimal number of Instagram hashtags

You can include up to thirty hashtags with an Instagram post and up to ten with an Instagram story. If you use more than that, your content won't post.

Although the official word from the Instagram's Creators account is that you should use three to five hashtags, an analysis of over eighteen million Instagram posts by Later showed that more is better. Posts with an average of twenty hashtags had the greatest reach, while posts with an average of thirty hashtags had the most engagement.

Instagram feed hashtag tips

  • Although more hashtags generate more engagement, make sure your hashtags are relevant. Off-topic hashtags can feel spammy.
  • Analyze the performance of your hashtags to determine which ones are worth keeping and which ones you should drop.
  • Add hashtags directly to your captions rather than trying to hide them in the comments for better reach.

Instagram stories and reels hashtag tips

  • Instagram stories are shown to people who don't follow you, so your hashtag strategy is more important.
  • Follow the @creators account on Instagram for information about popular trends in reels and how you can join in.
  • Include your hashtags in the caption, or use a scheduling platform like Later, to schedule the hashtags into the first comment.


Hashtags are not as popular on Facebook as on other social media platforms, but they can still increase your reach and engagement. You can find hashtag suggestions on Facebook by using the search bar. Start typing a keyword into the search bar, and Facebook will suggest other hashtags you can include. This search allows you to determine the context and popularity of a hashtag.

Optimal number of hashtags

Facebook users don't typically search for content using hashtags, so you won't likely get the same results with a Facebook hashtag strategy that you will with Instagram. However, adding some hashtags on Facebook is still a good idea.

Facebook hashtag tips

  • Only use two or three hashtags per Facebook post.
  • Use hashtags that are directly related to your post.
  • Use branded hashtags for challenges and giveaways to encourage audience participation.


TikTok is another platform that encourages hashtag use. The Discover tab highlights the top hashtags that are currently trending. TikTok attracts a younger, more active and engaged audience, and TikTok creators are constantly inventing new challenges. You can find challenges relevant to your industry and join in. You can get ideas for relevant hashtags by pressing the # key when you're writing your caption. TikTok will automatically generate hashtags.

Optimal number of hashtags

TikTok only allows one hundred characters per caption, so use only two or three hashtags per post.

TikTok hashtag tips

  • Participate in TikTok challenges and create your own to increase engagement.
  • Use a mix of specific and general hashtags to reach a wider audience.
  • Use the "Add to Favorites" button to save ideas for hashtags.


Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags, so a good hashtag strategy will go a long way. As soon as news starts trending, a hashtag (or many) is created to keep the conversation going. As soon as you log into Twitter, you'll see a list of trending hashtags, so figuring out what people are talking about is effortless. Researching a trending hashtag before you use it is important since many Twitter hashtags are used ironically or sarcastically.

You can also search for hashtags on Twitter using the search bar. Twitter will autocomplete your entries to give you suggestions for hashtags. When writing a post, you can use the # to see what hashtags Twitter suggests.

Optimal number of hashtags

You're only allowed two hundred and eighty characters per Tweet, so your hashtags will be limited by the character count. Twitter recommends no more than two hashtags per post, which is reasonable considering the character limitation. You can use hashtags at the beginning or end of your Tweet or incorporate them into your tweet by replacing a word with a hashtag.

Twitter hashtag tips:

  • Use trending hashtags if they're appropriate to your topic.
  • Take the time to participate in conversations around your hashtag by commenting, liking, and retweeting.
  • Use short hashtags.


Most people use LinkedIn for professional networking, so it's not as prone to trendy hashtags as other social media platforms. However, they're still valuable. LinkedIn allows you to follow hashtags, see which posts use them, and see how many times they've been used. You can use the search bar to start searching for a keyword, and LinkedIn will autogenerate suggestions for other hashtags.

There's a lot of room for you to stand out on LinkedIn since only a small percentage of users are creating content. LinkedIn is the best social media platform for using branded hashtags to generate excitement about your practice. You can share your content to up to three specific hashtag pages that you follow.

Optimal number of hashtags

According to LinkedIn, you should use three hashtags per post.

LinkedIn hashtag tips:

  • Use hashtags at the end of your posts, not in an article or comments.
  • Use one niche hashtag and two popular hashtags.
  • Use hashtags that correlate with the content of your post.


Pinterest is a visual search engine, but including hashtags in your description will help your content reach a broader audience. Hashtags on Pinterest are displayed chronologically. Hashtags are optional on Pinterest, but Pinterest is invested in hashtags, so they'll likely become more relevant in the near future. Right now, they help your new pins get discovered faster.

Optimal number of hashtags

Pinterest allows over twenty hashtags per pin, but you don't need to use that many. Aim for between two and eight hashtags per pin.

Pinterest hashtag tips:

  • Place hashtags at the end of your description.
  • Use specific rather than broad hashtags.
  • Use your branded hashtags first.


Using hashtags on your YouTube content can significantly raise your rankings on the platform. You can use hashtags in your description, title, and above the title, and you can search for hashtags using the # key in the search bar. You can also get ideas for hashtags by following popular videos that are ranked highly.

Optimal number of hashtags

YouTube will ignore all of your hashtags if you include more than sixty. However, to keep your hashtags relevant and avoid violating YouTube's community standards, you shouldn't use nearly that many. YouTube may remove your video if you tag it with unrelated hashtags.

YouTube hashtag tips:

  • Use three to five hashtags per video.
  • Only use the most relevant hashtags to avoid violating YouTube's Misleading Metadata Policy.
  • Use a branded hashtag to label all your videos so they can be found with one click.


A comprehensive hashtag strategy is essential to your overall social media marketing campaign. Once you've invested the time and effort in creating posts for different social media channels, using the right hashtags will ensure your content reaches as many people as possible.

To get the most out of your hashtag strategy, you need to understand each social media channel's audience and what type of content it's best suited for. Strategically planning your posts and hashtags will pay off by attracting more people to your target audience. To learn more about marketing strategies that can help you build your business, contact a Portrait specialist today.

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