How to quickly become a hashtag expert banner

How to quickly become a hashtag expert

Whether you’re a brand, influencer, or social media user, hashtags are an easy and free way to optimise your posts to reach the right audience. Other than reach, an Instagram post with at least a single hashtag sees an average of 12.6% more in engagement than hashtagless posts (Chacon, 2021).

What Are Hashtags?

They are a singular keyword or multiple keywords without spaces between them after the symbol ‘#’. This feature is on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to group content together according to a topic.

Hashtags on Instagram and TikTok (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Here are easy steps to find and use hashtags for all your posts on TikTok and Instagram.

Step 1: Hashtag Research

You will want to discover the best hashtags that fit your brand, type of content, and target audience. This requires keyword, target audience, and competition research.

Keyword Research

Firstly, search on the platform various keywords and see all the top hashtags related to it, the number of posts under that tag, and all the kinds of content tagged in it.

Target Audience Research

Secondly, get to know your desired audience by checking out the hashtags your followers are following on Instagram or the hashtags they use in their posts.


Competition Research

Thirdly, by checking the hashtags used by your competitors or accounts similar to yours you can discover hashtags relevant to your target audience.

Step 2: Selecting Hashtags

You can’t use every hashtag you deem helpful as each platform has their limits. TikTok has a character limit of 150 characters whereas on Instagram you can only use a maximum of 30 hashtags. Since TikTok has a character limit, posts typically use 1-3 hashtags.

Caption and hashtag limits on TikTok and Instagram (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Warning: Despite the ample amount of hashtags allowed on Instagram, too many hashtags can be perceived as annoying and hinder engagement. According to multiple studies the ideal number is 11 hashtags on Instagram for optimum engagement via hashtags (Gotter, 2021).

There are multiple types of hashtags that should be mixed and matched to optimise your content reach (Eckert, 2018).

Industry Tags

These tags are typically very generic but related to the industry you operate in.
Examples: #exercise #beauty #photographyideas

#photographyideas feed on Instagram (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Warning: Do not ONLY use industry hashtags with a large number of posts. Your posts will get drowned out by a lot of irrelevant or unrelated content within those tags.

Brand Tags

Focusing on your brand solely, you can create a tag reflecting your brand name to collate all content in connection with your brand or directly referring to your brand under one hashtag.
Examples: #sephora #kimkardashian #arthurelgortphotography

#sephora feed on TikTok (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Warning: Any post from a public account that utilises that hashtag will show up in the hashtag feed regardless of your approval or amount of relation to the tag.

Community Tags

These tags can target a smaller but more engaging audience as the purpose of community tags is to connect users to other users with a similar hobby or interest.
Examples: #rollerskatingdaily #beginnerphotography

#rollerskatingdaily feed on Instagram (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Niche Tags

Similarly to community tags, they can reach a narrower audience. You can add a location to the hashtag or incorporate a tag specifically about something in the post.
Examples: #melbourneweddingphotographer #asianfoodblogger #birriatacorecipe

#melbourneweddingphotographer feed on Instagram (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Note: Niche hashtags cover the drawback of being drowned out by competition and density in popular hashtags. It also allows your post to target a more select group of users that are more likely to engage with your content.

Trend/Challenge Tags

If your content is specifically following a trend or challenge then utilising the popular tag for the trend can help increase reach and engagement on platforms such as TikTok.
Example: #youthinkyouknowyourgirlfriend #chiquititachallenge

#youthinkyouknowhyourgirlfriend feed on TikTok (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Step 3: Post Content with Hashtags

Now you have selected your mix of hashtags. On Instagram too many hashtags in a caption or comment can be distracting and sometimes unappealing for users to want to engage with (Bennett, 2019). Luckily there is a simple solution to that – ‘hiding’ your list of hashtags. By following the easy steps below, your caption will be visible by users and will only see the hashtags if they decide to click the ‘…more’ button.

‘…more’ button on Instagram captions (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Hiding Hashtags in A Caption

  1. Open a notes application
  2. Type your caption like normal
  3. Press enter
  4. Add a symbol such as a period, ‘.’
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 at a minimum of 3 times (5 is an ideal number)
  6. Press enter
  7. Paste your group of hashtags in the line after
  8. Copy and paste your entire caption into Instagram
Hiding hashtags in a caption on a notes application (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Hiding Hashtags in A Comment

  1. Open a notes application
  2. Add a symbol such as a period, ‘.’
  3. Press enter
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 at a minimum of 3 times (5 is an ideal number)
  5. Press enter
  6. Paste your group of hashtags in the line after
  7. Copy and paste into the comment section of your Instagram post

Step 4: Monitor Hashtag Performance

Using hashtags doesn’t have to be a guessing game as there are many options to monitor the performance of the hashtags you used or find new hashtags that can perform better. If your Instagram is a professional account you have access to the feature of ‘Insights’, where you can view the interactions, impressions, follows, and profile visits in each of your posts.

Post insights feature on Instagram (Source: Maegan Whalley)

By looking at post insights you can view how many impressions came from home, profile, and hashtags for a very simplified view of how strong your mix of hashtags are in that post. Besides that feature, there are many free and paid tools to help your hashtag game.

All Hashtag
Social Media Platform: Instagram
Price: Free
All Hashtag is a website that offers a free hashtag generator. You input a keyword and it identifies 30 hashtags that best relate to your keyword depending on which filter you select: top hashtags, random hashtags, live hashtags, and similar hashtags. It also offers a free but basic hashtag analytics tool where you can input a hashtag and discover its popularity.

All Hashtag website for generating hashtags (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Social Media Platform: Instagram and TikTok
Price: Free and Paid Plans
Analisa is an AI analytics platform for Instagram and TikTok. By typing any hashtag, it presents real-time insights for that day such as engagement levels, number of contributors to that hashtag, total posts, most used words in captions, and more. However, you need to purchase a paid plan in order to get access to hashtag insights on TikTok.

Analisa website for analysing hashtags on Instagram (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Social Media Platform: TikTok
Price: Paid Plans
Pentos is an all in one platform for TikTok analytics and monitoring such as song, video, profile, hashtag, and performance. It gives you analytics on hashtags within the platform for useful areas such as trending challenges. It also monitors the performance of your videos and hashtags.

Pentos website analytics and monitoring features (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Social Media Platform: Instagram
Price: Paid Plans
Socialert offers a tracking tool to monitor all keywords in relation to your brand. It identifies active users through its hashtag research tool and tracks hashtag statistics such as reach, impressions, engagement, and popularity. It also presents easy visual data reports.

Socialert website for tracking hashtags (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Social Media Platform: Instagram and TikTok
Price: Free and Paid Plans
Later is a popular and simple tool for scheduling and posting Instagram posts. It offers hashtag features such as scheduling the first comment, hashtag suggestions, hashtag analytics, and finding user-generated content through your brand hashtags.

Later website for scheduling posts and hashtag tool (Source: Maegan Whalley)

Now you’re a hashtag expert!

Once you get the hang of these steps you’ll have a routined set of hashtags you can use for your posts on social media. Whether it is to increase brand awareness as a company or to gain a few extra likes and followers, hashtags are a great way that have maintained its relevance in new platforms like TikTok and other platforms not discussed such as YouTube.

Maegan Julia Whalley
Maegan Julia Whalley

Maegan is a recent Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the University of Melbourne (Marketing and Management). During her final year of studies, she gained experience as a marketing intern for an established cosmetics brand in the Philippines. In 2022, she is continuing to grow her skills with the brand in her new role as a brand assistant, specialising in TikTok content creation and strategy. She looks forward to improving her craft with future opportunities in Melbourne.