Hashtag Quick Start Guide

If you know anything about me {Hay Girl!!} then you KNOW I’m obsessed with hashtags! That was absolutely not the case until I started getting serious about growing a community of like-minded lady bosses, and now, I swear by them.

If you don’t know, the Pretty+Profesh Academy runs a ton of LIVE classes (aka – me and Rach live on video talking strategy and taking your questions) and our most recent one got into the nitty-gritty of hashtags

Girl, I was sooo excited, and we had a ton of great questions come up about {{obviously}} hashtags. Here are the highlights:

not all tags are created equal

Just because someone uses a hashtag, that doesn’t meant it’s working for them. On that same wave, just because a hashtag is popular, that doesn’t mean it’s strategically good to use. Let’s dig deeper: How do you know if a hashtag is working for you? The key is to engage heavily on the hashtag and measure the return. Each time you post, pick one or two of your hashtags to test out! Go interact with people who have also recently used it, and see if that brings new followers to your community. 

BONUS TIP: Yes you absolutely should test this out on your competitor’s hashtags as well. Rach (my PIC and social media guru) was giving some awesome examples in our live class about how this tactic has a super high ROI in lots of different scenarios. Of course there are going to be instances when trying to engage with people on a competitor hashtag returns NADA. You gotta put in the time to find out. So whether it’s a “competitor” hashtag or not, do the research to make sure using it will be worth it. 

hashtags are not a place to get creative

There is no need to go crazy with branded hashtags. Choose ONE for your tribe and commit! Not only does this easily help you easily find and engage with your community, but it will also provide cleaner analytics. One of the biggest pet peeves of mine is when folks make up their own super long hashtags (if they are trying to use them for growth purposes). You need to use tags that other people use regularly enough to see results from this strategy. If you’re making it up for fun – go for it! But things like #ijustwannahotdogsobad don’t help you any unless that tag is used often. 

comment vs caption

So…where do you stick your list of 30 hashtags? It comes down to aesthetics. Having your hashtags in the comments OR in your caption has no bearing on your rank for that tag within Instagram. It doesn’t care, not even a lick! If you put your hashtags in your caption, you have a chance to edit them. That’s about it.

To keep it easy for me, I like putting my hashtags in the first comment below my caption to keep it clean. {{Adding 4 or 5 dots in vertical succession like this .    .    .   .    .  while pressing “enter” in between helps to hide them}} Again, this is completely aesthetic and up to you!

Placing your tags in a comment also allows you to delete them after a while if you get tired of “bots” (or automated Instagram Software) randomly liking 30 pics in a row of yours from months and months ago. 

Use related hashtags

If you are drawing a blank, or if your engagement is down, try searching the “related tags” at the top of more popular hashtag searches. Not every tag has these, but the ones that do will show you what’s most commonly used with that tag. This also shows you similar posts under that tag so you can decide whether or not using this tag will help you reach “your girl”.


Hashtags are living. Their effectiveness and reach changes constantly. Some tags are time sensitive, some are not. Different times of the day may attract a different type of account. Some tags become so popular they get watered down. Some move way too fast and some move way too slow. Find a good mix and keep modifying over time.

Use Trending Tags with care

The point of utilizing Instagram for your business is to make $$$ right? RIGHT. So you need to engage with people who want to buy what you are selling. With trending tags, you may get misleading engagement. That is classified as engagement from automated accounts, accounts wanting you to follow them, or someone looking for the trends, not you. These trending tags bring likes and comments from folks who aren’t always your target audience. Using trending tags can help expand your account reach and help you find your girl, but it often takes much longer and increases the likelihood of attracting accounts that follow only for a follow back. As long as you don’t load your picture with unrelated trending tags they are sweet to add when applicable. 

So. That’s the tip of the iceberg! For real though, there are hundreds of amazing and valuable strategy tips for Instagram, but when it comes to targeted growth, hashtags are it. There is an ENTIRE guide dedicated to Insta Profesh course because they are truly so significant to a strategic growth strategy.  Click the image below for more information!