You work hard crafting the perfect tweet or styling a stellar Instagram shot, but you can’t figure out why you can’t seem to gain much traction on social media. If the thought of hashtags overwhelms or confuses, then this post is for you. I’ll be covering what a hashtag is, when and where to use them and how to find the best hashtags for your brand or business. #HereWeGo!

What exactly is a hashtag?

A hashtag (#) is used to catagorize a word or phrase on social media. When a piece of social media is shared, the hashtag becomes searchable and clickable. This allows you to connect you with other users searching or using the same hashtag. When you use a hashtag, it makes it much easier for others to find your content and extends your reach beyond those who follow you.

When to Use a Hashtag?

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest all support hashtags, but I would only recommend using them on Twitter and Instagram.


  • Tweets that have one or two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement rate then tweets without hashtags
  • If you choose to use more than two hashtags, the average engagement rate drops 17%
  • Place your hashtags at the end of a tweet


  • For the highest average engagement, use 11 hashtags on Instagram
  • Place your hashtags in a new comment directly below the caption

Facebook & Pinterest

  • Facebook posts without hashtags have higher engagement than posts with hashtags
  • No one really seems to use hashtags on Pinterest because they are not searchable
  • Instead of researching hashtags for Pinterest, work on writing strong captions so it is easy for others to find you

The Best Hashtags for Your Brand or Biz

Now that you understand what a hashtag is and when and where to use them, it’s time to determine the best hashtags for your brand or biz. I’ve put all of these steps into a free worksheet that you can print out and get to work on. Grab it at the end of this post!

To begin, brainstorm words that describe your biz. Write down words that describe your product or service and outcome. If you are location-based, keep that in mind too. Words that appear on my list would be: social media, web strategy, small business, entrepreneur, lady boss, etc.

Once you have a long list, open Instagram on your device. Navigate to the search tab (the magnifying glass), select “Tags” at the top and then search for one of the hashtags on your list. If I search #socialmedia, I will get a list of results back that include the term social media and how many times the hashtag has been used.

[bctt tweet=”When selecting the perfect hashtags, you want to find words that are not overused or rarely used.” username=”katiewilliamsen”]

Select other words that might describe your business, while also seeing how many times the tag has been used. For example, #socialmedia has been used over 2 million times, so it might be hard to stand out with so much other content. The hashtag #socialmediaweekend only has 438 posts associated with it, which means it is too specific to be searched. When selecting the perfect hashtags, you want to find words that are not overused or rarely used.  #socialmediastrategy has been used almost 28,000 times – which is a good balance between 438 and 2 million.

Hashtags Shouldn't Be Complicated // A Guide to Social Media Hashtags // Instagram Hashtag Research // Katie Williamsen Web & Social Media Consulting, LLC

If you select a hashtag on the search list, it will show you other posts that have used the hashtag, but at the top, there is a related list of tags. It’s another great place to find hashtag ideas. Continue to go through the list of words that describe your business on Instagram and determine what words will be the best hashtags for your business.

While you are doing your research, be sure to keep your dream client in mind. You want to select words they might be searching. You can even look at competitors feeds and see what types of hashtags they use for more ideas.

Now that you have a list of hashtags started, you might want to add some established, popular hashtags to the mix. Some of my favorites include:

#thatsdarling #abmlifeiscolorful #darlingmovement #darlingweekend #thehappynow #pursuepretty #flashesofdelight #petitejoys #livethelittlethings #calledtobecreative #DScolor #DSfloral #livecolorfully #liveauthentic #creativityfound #colorventures #bts #makeitblissful

Small Business
#dreamersanddoers #savvybusinessowner #dreamjobmakers #creativebusiness #dreamjobmakers #ladypreneur #womeninbusiness #girlboss #ladyboss #womeninbiz #risingtidesociety #makersgonnamake #TNChustler #creativebiz #onmydesk #smallbusinessowner #smallbusiness #creativityfound #calledtobecreative

Now that you have a long list of hashtags ready to go, open a note-taking app on your phone and enter all of your hashtags. Next time you are ready to post to Instagram or Twitter, open up the note and select the best hashtags for your post.

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now you have a long list of hashtags you can use to encourage more engagement on Instagram and Twitter. Continue refining your list the more you use them. If you still aren’t so sure about hashtags, schedule a FREE discovery call with me today!


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10 thoughts on “Hashtags Shouldn’t Be Complicated (Plus a Free Worksheet!)

  1. Great read, thanks so much for posting!

    Posted on May 3, 2016 at 11:53 am
    1. I hope it helps! Let me know if you have questions!

      Posted on May 4, 2016 at 9:29 am
  2. I’m still getting the hang of hashtags as I’ve just started Instagram and don’t really pay much attention to my Twitter. I’ve recently started investing more time and finding the right hashtags that works for me. Thank you for this post and the worksheet. I’ll make sure to put it to good use.

    Posted on May 3, 2016 at 11:15 pm
    1. Hi Kelli! Thanks for reading. I’m so glad you are starting to figure out the best hashtags for your social media – let me know if you have any questions!

      Posted on May 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm
  3. Hi Katie,
    Love that I’ve found your blog just as I’ve started to curate a company Instagram account. I popped my email in the other day for the Hashtag worksheet, and got signed up to your newsletter. But somehow I didn’t download the worksheet. Your blog article above has given me some great tips that I’d love to put into practise and wanted to know if you can send the worksheet through?
    Thank you!

    Posted on May 6, 2016 at 10:33 pm
    1. Hi Kelly! I just sent you an email. Thanks for reading! 🙂

      Posted on May 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm
  4. I’m trying to figure out this Instagram thing, and I have a question. When you say “Place your hashtags in a new comment directly below the caption” what do you mean by caption? I don’t see a place designated caption. Are you saying place whatever caption you want in a comment and then hashtags in the next comment? Thanks for the clarifying!

    Posted on May 20, 2016 at 10:23 am
    1. Hi Pam! I think you will really enjoy Instagram once you get a hang of it. When you are sharing a photo via Instagram, anything you write before the image is shared is considered a caption. And then I would put the hashtags in the comment directly after the caption. I’ll also send you an email.

      Thanks for your question!

      Posted on May 21, 2016 at 10:21 am
  5. Hello-

    Thanks for this article! I entered my email to get your hashtag worksheet but I received an SEO resource list instead. Any chance you could send me that worksheet? Thanks in advance!

    Posted on March 27, 2017 at 3:42 pm
    1. Sorry about that, Rachael! I’ll send you the correct worksheet shortly!

      Posted on March 27, 2017 at 9:59 pm