Instagram: Hashtags

What is a Hashtag and how do they work?

Basically, any word or phrase can be turned into a working hashtag simply by placing the number sign or # in front of it.  Why is this important?  Because the phrase becomes clickable and when a user clicks on a hashtag they are directed to it’s feed which shows all the public content attached to it.  People use this to then find content they are interested in on Instagram.  Using the right hashtags puts you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before.

Types of Hashtags: There are many different types of hashtags and each have a particular purpose.  To maximize your reach and increase engagement, use a combination and make them an important part of your strategy. Branded Hashtags: These are specific to you and your brand and should be listed on your profile bio.  Use them to build brand awareness and encourage others to use them when sharing their own content.
Location based hashtags: Do you have a product or service that appeals to your local audience?  Use your location hashtag to your advantage.  It’s a great way to let your local community know you’re there.  

Entertainment Hashtags: While these won’t necessarily grow your audience they will expand on the audience that you already have.  Quite often these phrases are situational to the specific post, for example, #funinthesun on a sunny day activity post.

Mass appeal Hashtags: These are general hashtags that can be used for any post.  Typically they won’t do much to grow your account as they are very competitive., over a million followers.  Occasionally you may get a bump in reach but in the long run it’s not where you go to get followers. Trending Hashtags: When used correctly trending hashtags can give meaningful returns in terms of reach and interest.  Quite often they are just really popular hashtags that people are using at the time and have surged in popularity, usually having to do with current events.
Timely Hashtags: These are often specific  to a holiday or a day of the week.  Users love timely content and are likely to seek out more of the same.  #motivationmonday or #tbt are examples. Niche hashtags: Use niche specific hashtags to connect with your relevant audience.  For example, people interested in healthy eating will search for phrases like #organic or #greendrinks 
Special Event Hashtags: Are you hosting a contest?  Having a sale?  Hashtags like #flashsale or #contestalert can help you find bargain hunters and let your followers know you’ve got a deal happening.  

So which hashtags should you use? 

Growing your Instagram account takes work and requires a significant amount of research.  This is where the real work happens and it’ll take some time.  There are a few different strategies you can use depending on your goals.  Starting out you’ll use hashtags that are not very competitive to give you some traction and as your account grows you will start to move towards the more competitive ones.  Here are some ways to find hashtags that you can use.



This is a great platform to find trending hashtags or topics but remember that Twitter hashtags are more focused on news so it’s wise not to blindly copy them.

Your competition

Looks for trends in what your competitors hashtags are.   Who are their followers, what hashtags do they use regularly and check them out.  It might give you some ideas.


What are your influencers doing?  They already have an audience that actively engages with them for inspiration or expertise.  Don’t be afraid to use a few that you like.

Research tools

You’ll definitely want to use a tool for this job.  It’s time consuming and frustrating.  Use a tool that will give you specific feedback about certain hashtags.  At a minimum it should provide the following:

o   What’s the hashtag reach

o   How many users added it

o   What’s the number of impressions received

o   How many unique posts

o   Overall popularity

There are quite a few good ones available and many offer a free trial so again do your research and choose the one best suited to your need.

How many hashtags should I use?

The maximum number Instagram allows is 30.  Should you use 30?  Initially when starting out, yes you should use them all.  It’s important to switch them up regularly.  Using the same ones over and over will get you shadowbanned and limit your account growth.  At a minimum use 2, ideally between 6 and 15 and the max is 30.  Test a few options of your account, see what works best.

Should I hide my hashtags?

Hashtags are great but they are ugly.  No-one wants to read through 30 of them, some even struggle at 5.  Let’s face it, big blocks of hard-to-read text looks unappealing.  Because of this you’ll notice many brands hide the bulk of their hashtags by strategically phasing them below the “see more” tag.  Some even add the hashtags in a separate comment.  There are marketers that believe that placing them in a comment can reduce the effectiveness, others don’t.

The best option is to keep the focus on your caption and make sure your hashtags are separated by at least 1 line.  The exception to this would be when the hashtag itself is relevant to the caption, then by all means include it at the top.

Banned Hashtags

Believe it or not Instagram “bans” hashtags that they detect are often used alongside illicit content.  Instagram won’t post new content to a banned hashtag’s feed and may even remove the feed completely.  Hashtags can be banned permanently or temporarily and when you use them your posts could be shadow-banned.  This means that they likely won’t show up in your followers feeds, also other hashtags in your post may not appear when searched.

Try not to used banned hashtags as it can undo all the work you have done on a single post.

Measuring hashtag impact

So how do you know which hashtags are working and which are not?  And if you’re using 30 on every post it can become difficult to track.  Here are some ideas you can use:

  1. Use Instagram Analytics to look at your overall growth. Have impressions, reach and likes gone up for your profile and posts?  How many accounts have you reached through the Discovery channel?  If you don’t see month to month increases it’s time to adapt and update your strategy.
  2. Use hashtag research tools to monitor the ones you’re using regularly. You’ll want to see increasing popularity over time.
  3. 3rd party tools can provide data about your hashtag usage, showing which ones yielded the best engagement as well as how often you used them.


Instagram is an important marketing channel and requires a strategy to be successful.  To extend your reach and keep your audience engaged you need your own list of high performing hashtags.  This article is by no means a comprehensive guide, it’s a start, something to think about.  Measure your results often and switch them up regularly.

Have fun.

Instagram: Engagement

Instagram: Engagement

Why do I need to engage you ask.  Is it really necessary?

Absolutely!  And here’s why.

You want to grow your account, right?  Well the Instagram algorithm really really likes engagement and with good consistent engagement Instagram will show your account to more and more people.  This will ultimately grow your account.  Here are a few things to remember when posting.


  • Quality Content is crucial. Remember most people have the attention span of a gnat, make those seconds count.  Focus on your niche and be relevant.
  • Hashtags are the bread and butter of Instagram. Using them is step #1 in getting people to your account. Continue reading “Instagram: Engagement”

Instagram: Getting started

Isn’t Instagram a fun platform? What a great way to connect with like minded people and their brands. Before jumping in to build your Instagram presence, there are a few key things to be aware of.

Number 1 – Know your niche.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or have been dabbling for a while, it’s

important to know what your niche is. Who do you want to target, what do you want them to know. Have a focus and target to that niche – same as you do with your website.

Continue reading “Instagram: Getting started”

Website: Reasons to update

How many times have you asked yourself if you should update your website?  If it’s more than 1, chances are you probably should just bite the bullet and do it.  There are many reasons for updating, including that it is a reflection of you, your personality and your brand.  Are you still wearing leg-warmers?  Or sporting a mullet hair style?  I didn’t think so.  So why is your website living in the past.  It is one of the most cost effective ways to to market your business.  Shouldn’t it be relevant, fast, fun and safe?  Here are a few reasons to seriously thing about an update.

  1. Visual appeal

Does your site look nice and is it easy to navigate on multiple devices?  If it looks old and clunky your site visitors may draw the same conclusion about your business, that it’s outdated and structured poorly.  I’m sure you don’t want that.  Being mobile friendly is critical in today’s environment as well. Continue reading “Website: Reasons to update”

Website: The makings of one

Today anyone can build a website but not everyone wants to or has the time to do it alone.  Thankfully there are a lot of tools and resources available online for the dedicated do-it-yourselfer.   YAY for the internet.  So where to start.  Here’s a DIY guide to get you going that outlines 4 key areas to know.

  1. Your Domain:

This is the URL that identifies your webpage.  Ideally, you’ll have thought of something unique, short and sensible.  With some luck you should have no problem securing it.  There are really only 2 choices to do this:

  • purchase your own domain through a registrar (GoDaddy, HostPapa etc)
  • purchase your domain through a website builder ( see below)

Continue reading “Website: The makings of one”

Tech tips – Spam & Phishing

What is the difference between Spam and Phishing?

Spam is an unsolicited email, usually from someone trying to sell you something. Spammers generally do not try to acquire sensitive information, where as Phishing, much like “fishing” sets bait and hooks you to give out your personal information, by looking like the email has come from a known source.


spamWhy am I getting Spam from myself?

The bad news is: there is almost nothing you can do. Spam comes in many forms and eventually, getting emails from an address that looks like your own (referred to as “spoofing” or “From-spoofing”) will happen, if it has not already. The “from” address in spamming is meaningless and just requires more analysis of what the data’s source is. Continue reading “Tech tips – Spam & Phishing”

Tech Tip of the day

When using a search engine like Google,  put quotes around phrases that must be searched together. For example, if you put quotes around “electric curtains,” Google won’t waste your time finding one set of Web pages containing the word “electric” and another set containing the word “curtains.”

You can use Google to do math for you. Just type the equation, like 23*7+15/3=, and hit Enter.


On and Off




Sometimes it does work: on technology!



Quickly lock your computer:

To lock your computer quickly, you can use the Window’s key and the “L” key together. This will prompt you to press Ctrl/Alt/Delete and enter your password to be readmitted to your work screen! Continue reading “Tech Tip of the day”

Tech tips – social media

Social Media

It’s here to stay so what is it?

Social media is a term used to collectively describe a set of tools that foster interaction, discussion and community,  allowing people to build relationships and share information.

Some key principles:

  • Social media is about conversations, community, connecting with personalities and building relationships. It is not just a broadcast channel or a sales and marketing tool.
  • Authenticity, honesty and open dialogue are key.
  • Social media not only allows you to hear what people say about you, but enables you to respond. Listen first, speak second.
  • Be compelling, useful, relevant, engaging. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but think through your efforts before kicking them off.

Continue reading “Tech tips – social media”

Tech tips – Virus protection

All software installs on your company computer should be completed by a trusted Technology Services person. Unauthorized software installs can compromise not only your computer but the corporate network as well.

There are many scams online that mask themselves as useful software when in fact they are malicious and can infect your computer.

  • Unauthorized software can contain viruses that will infect your system and spread throughout the network.
  • Pirated software is illegal and could result in a lawsuit .
  • Downloaded software may contain spyware that will copy your information and pass along confidential personal and company information without your knowledge.


Your company does their best to protect your equipment, please do the same and contact a trusted source the next time you need to download. Continue reading “Tech tips – Virus protection”

Tech tips – Computer Security

Norton, AVG to protect your information. Do not download any pop-ups that may inadvertently show up. They are typically malware and not good.

Passwords – we know it’s a right pain in the rear but passwords need to change regularly. Use a formula that is easy for you to remember but not easy for someone to crack. For example “Password1”, while it contains the required capital and numeric value is the first one most people will try. Come up with something else.

Firewalls – they are there for a reason, to protect your data.   Don’t mess with them, contact your Helpdesk if you have questions or need changes.