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Hashtag (hash·tag), noun: a word or phrase comprised of letters, numbers, and/or emoji preceded by what was once referred to as the pound symbol (#).

Let’s face it, hashtags are here to stay. Once the butt of jokes, “hashtag” is now officially a word in the English language according to Webster and Scrabble (along with “selfie,” but we won’t comment on that one).

While annoying to some, hashtags actually provide a useful service by categorizing content on each social media platform. They are particularly useful on Instagram for finding new followers based on lifestyle, content and location tags. Savvy small business marketers can harness the power of hashtags to grow their audience and increase engagement, which can ultimately lead to more sales. Here are a few do’s and don’ts of using Instagram hashtags to get you started.

DO: Use a mix of company branded AND lifestyle hashtags.
Create a branded term that your followers can use in their own Instagram images (and that you can use for regram content!). StyleBlueprint uses #styleblueprint and #sbguide. Help new customers find you by tagging your images with lifestyle terms that align with your target market like #nashvillemom, #nashvilleeats or #shoplocalnashville.

DO: Engage with other ‘grammers using hashtags relevant to your business.
Are you a local artisan? Search for #nashvillemakers and engage with others in your community to build relationships and brand awareness.

DON’T: Use punctuation in hashtags.
The hashtag will end with the first space or punctuation used. String multiple words together by capitalizing the first letter in each word. (Leaving things lowercase is okay, too).

DON’T: Use commas to separate hashtags in a list.
You can simply list them in sequence.

DON’T: Overload the caption with hashtags.
If you have more than 2 or 3 hashtags, place them in the comment so that you’re witty caption isn’t overlooked. Hashtags in the comment space are still searchable, so they will accomplish the same end goal without cluttering your message.


Have more questions? Here’s a handy guide that may help.

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