Use Small Business Hashtags on Instagram Like a Pro

4 min read • Aug 18, 2021 • Grant Olsen

Small businesses can rarely match the budgets, bandwidth, and headcount of larger organizations. If you don’t believe me, why don’t you go ahead and call a meeting with your accounting team, PPC management team, and HR director to discuss the topic further? What’s that? You don’t have an accounting team? Our point exactly.

There’s nothing wrong with having a smaller operation. In fact, it provides some real perks. For example, you’re more nimble and can adapt to changing circumstances. Let’s say that chicken and bologna sandwiches suddenly became popular with American consumers. A food truck could quickly add chicken and bologna to the menu. A behemoth like McDonald’s, on the other hand, would require several months to make such a change in their restaurants.

So let’s celebrate the power that comes with a lean organization. As long as you’re able to identify competitive advantages and seize them with the tenacity of a Jack Russell Terrier, you can hang with the big dogs.

One of these key areas is Instagram. And your secret weapon is the use of small business hashtags.

When you use hashtags on Instagram, you’re compensating for one of that network’s biggest limitations. Instagram isn’t built for searches, and hashtags serve as identifiers of your content. When a post has relevant hashtags, it’ll pop up in searches by your loyal fans. Crucially, it will also make it possible for new fans to connect with you.

It’s hard enough to grab people’s attention on social media, so you should do everything in your power to make it easy for them to engage with your content. Hashtags are like magnets that bring people to you. It’s almost like how modern car washes operate. Back in the day, you’d drive into a car wash bay and use the self-serve hoses and brushes to clean your car. Ugh. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Now, you just pull up to the bay, and a conveyor belt gently carries your vehicle inside to be cleaned. You can kick back and enjoy the experience.

Hashtags might look simple, but they have more versatility than you might have realized. You can include them in your Instagram stories, posts, and also IGTV. But don’t get too carried away in your hashtag use… there are also some limitations:

  • You can only use 1 hashtag sticker OR 3 hashtags with your Instagram stories
  • You can use no more than 30 hashtags in your post captions
  • You can no more than 30 hashtags in your IGTV descriptions

What does a good small business hashtag look like? In a word: relevant. Just because you can use 30 hashtags in a post doesn’t mean you should plop everything but the kitchen sink into the caption. Use at least a dozen hashtags, though it’s perfectly fine to hit the maximum as long as they’re all high quality.

Your hashtags need to relate to your content while also connecting you to popular topics on Instagram. It’s easy to test the trendability of a hashtag… simply punch it into the Tags search bar and then gauge how many posts are currently using that tag. If you see a hashtag with millions of posts, don’t include it. These tags are being used so much that their impact for you is limited. Instead, look for hashtags that have between 50,000 and 700,000 posts. This can be your sweet spot.

After tapping into popular hashtags, you’ll also want to put your personal stamp on them. This means using some hashtags directly related to what you do and how you do it. They won’t be as popular if you test them in the Tags search bar, but that’s the point. With these hashtags, you’re aiming for people who are searching within your industry.

Finally, throw in a couple of hashtags that only you use. These can be fun and creative tags that play with your name, your services, or something else that sets you apart from the competition.

By using small business hashtags playfully yet judiciously, you’ll be able to tap into popular searches on Instagram and attract new followers. It’s a slow process, and you’ll undoubtedly experience your fair share of ups and downs, but it could provide the boost your business needs to really take off!

Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.