10 hashtag tips to get new customers, clients and followers.

We cover: the amount of hashtags, where to put them, what to hashtag, what not to hashtag, shadow banning, hashtag research and more!

Hashtags are one of the most fundamental social media marketing strategies around, yet so many people don’t use them to their full advantage – or use them incorrectly. Here’s a (semi-quick) guide of hashtagging the right way.

1. Use 30 hashtags

Trust us, you won’t look desperate!

Instagram accepts 30 hashtags (any more than that and your caption or comment won’t show up). Some people don’t want to use many hashtags. They say, “I don’t want to look desperate,” but, unless your hashtags say things like #pleasefollowme #iwanttobepopular #buymystuff etc. you won’t look desperate. And ~ newsflash ~ the vast majority of people don’t look at your hashtags anyway. Especially not if you put them in your first comment (more on that below).

Hashtags are the SEO of Instagram (search engine optimisation i.e. keywords people search for to find your product/service). And you don’t hold back the SEO on your website, so why would you for Instagram? They are an important social media marketing tool and the difference between your target audience finding your page and products and them never coming across the content. So, use them!

2. Put your hashtags as the first comment

The less visible way to get that SEO in!

If you are concerned about hashtags cluttering your post, put them as the first comment. Even if that is not a concern of yours, it’s a great practice to use. This way, Instagram will collapse your comment and it won’t be seen – unless someone really wants to click on it.

The more people that comment on your post, the harder your first comment of hashtags is to see, so, get people engaging with your content!

3. Keep your hashtags set aside for easy access

Don’t be that person that writes all their hashtags out every time!

We don’t know how many times we have seen people doing a post like this… they choose the picture, filter it, write a caption and then try and think of as many relevant captions as possible to add. They get stuck at about 10, so, they just post it as is.

*Shakes head*. Hashtags should be intentional and purposeful. They should be planned, just like your content should be (that’s another whole article!).

Take the time to come up with some great hashtag sets and store them on a notepad app or similar on your phone. That way, just copy/paste them when it’s time to post – no thinking required, and serious time saved!

4. Utilise hashtags in your bio

A super-easy way to add more SEO into your profile!

This is a relatively new feature on Instagram, but it increases the SEO potential of your account. Don’t flood it with hashtags, that will just look silly – and desperate – but use one or two very specific hashtags your niche would be searching. This should have a location (if you are location based) and what it is in the tag. I.e. if you’re a Gold Coast café don’t just say #cafe #coffee – those hashtags have millions of posts. Use #goldcoastcafe or similar.

5. Don’t use the most popular hashtags

Likes don’t pay the bills!

We know, we know, that may seem contradictory to us saying, “Use plenty of hashtags,” but, unless you are targeting people that will engage with your business, a few likes here and there from someone in London or New York are pointless, and only feed your ego.

As you put together your hashtag sets, check how many people are using them by typing it into the search on Instagram. If they have over 100,000 people using it, your content most probably won’t be seen by who you want to see it. It’s best to stick to hashtags that have plenty of new content posted on them but are at, or under, the 50,000 mark. 1,000-20,000 is ideal.

If you’re just fishing for likes and comments from random people, then go ahead and use the most popular tags, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!

6. Use hashtags that will find your target audience

Pinpoint where your customers are!

Let’s look at the above example again. If you’re a café, you don’t just want to hashtag #coffee #hot #expresso because anyone in the world could come across those and someone in Tokyo liking your photo won’t do anything. But, someone in the area your café is in seeing your photo may bring them in for a cuppa.

So, if you are a bricks and mortar business or very location-specific, use your city and surrounding areas in your hashtags. If you are a Gold Coaster, you can use both Gold Coast and Brisbane in your hashtags, if it seems relevant. Also, popular suburbs your business is in or is nearby can be used too (like Surfers Paradise and Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast). You can use these location tags on their own too, without what it is your business does like #goldcoast #surfersparadise.

It gets a little more complex if you are an online store, but you still need to keep in mind your specific niche. You can use the major Australian cities in your hashtags, or even smaller cities and towns.

7. Do some hashtag research

Get your detective skills on!

Hashtag research is a whole other article in itself (and a huge joy of ours!) so, we’ll just provide two tips here. Look at what your successful competitors are hashtagging on their accounts and steal some of those hashtags to use! Then, go onto some of the hashtags that are like #goldcoastcafe and see what other hashtags appear at the top of the results panel, some of those will be relevant too.

8. Use hashtags that your ideal customer will be searching

Get inside the mind of your ideal customer!

Who is your ideal customer? What are they into? Are they bloggers, foodies, make up artists, etc? Use these hashtags to access them. Use #goldcoastfoodie #goldcoastblogger #goldcoastmua and so on.

Learn about their interests, what they are passionate about and even what they do in their spare time. You should be able to describe your ideal customer, or at least close to it. The more you know about them, the more hashtags you can use that will target them specifically.

9. Rotate and update your hashtag sets

Keep things fresh!

Instagram doesn’t like when you use the exact same set of hashtags over and over. We keep three to five sets at once and rotate which one we use every three to five posts. Change the sets up again every 2-3 months. You don’t have to swap out all of your hashtags (especially not if they’re working really well!) but you can mix and match between the sets and do some more research into new ones to use too. Constantly using the same sets can be marked as spam by Instagram too, so keep changing them up.

10. Constantly check the hashtags haven’t been marked as spam

It will surprise you what hashtags get marked as spam!

If you notice your engagement is severely down, a hashtag you use may have been marked as spam. Even if you don’t notice a drop, every fortnight, go onto your posts and click through onto each hashtag. Then click onto the ‘RECENT’ tab. If you can see posts there, the tag is all good. But if a message says…

“Recent posts from #thistag are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”

… Then it’s a banned hashtag and using it can result in you being shadowbanned (a blog on this will be up very soon!). And it’s not just hashtags like #nudes that are banned, from time to time things like #instagood #dogsofinstagram can be banned. Yes, DOGS!


There you have it. 10 hashtag tips and plenty more to come!

If you’re interested in getting some personalised hashtag sets for your business, get it touch with us, we’d love to put them together for you!