How to Find the Right Hashtags for your Brand

I was recently asked about hashtag research on Instagram. What does it mean? How do you find the right hashtags for your brand?

Rather than randomly hashtagging your posts as you throw them up on the grid, I would propose to you that you should be researching and planning them out in advance.

So how do you do that?

Here is a step by step guide of how I research hashtags ahead of time to find the right ones for my brand and my subject matter:

  1. First look at accounts that are similar to yours to get an idea of some good hashtags. Similar accounts could be brands in the same industry as you or they could be businesses that are local to your city.

  2. From there you can either click on a hashtag on their post or type one into the search bar (make sure you’re on the “tags” tab).

  3. When you start to type, Instagram will auto-populate tags that start with what you are typing. You can click on a tag and it will take you into that hashtag pool.

  4. Some things to notice when you click into the pool: At the top you can see how many posts have been hashtagged with that hashtag, if any of the people you follow are following the hashtag, and then there is a bar with related hashtags.

  5. Once you’ve noted what kind of images are in the hashtag, how many people are using it, and who is following along, you should be able to determine if it’s a good hashtag for you to use. If it is, jot it down in your notebook or notes app.

  6. Now click on a related hashtag that sounds promising to you. Rinse and repeat. 

Yes, this will lead you down a long rabbit hole and you may be sucked in for HOURS (maybe set yourself a timer?), but finding the right hashtags for YOU is super important for reaching the right people and growing your account with authentic followers!

In case you are a visual person, here are some screenshots of what I am talking about:


Screenshot on left corresponds with

points 2 and 3 from above.

1. Look for the magnifying glass to perform a search.

2. Make sure you are searching under the “tags” tab.

3. Start typing a tag and it will auto-populate.

4. Click into a hashtag pool.


Screenshot on the left corresponds with point 4 from above.

1. How many posts are hashtagged with #tacomawa.

2. People you are following who also follow this hashtag.

3. Related hashtags that you can click on.

While I’m here, let me tell you how I apply hashtag research to my strategy too!

Once I have a note with hashtags that I think would be good for my brand, I break it down into categories (for me, it’s things like hashtags that reach local brands, makers, momtreprenuers, etc.) The reason I separate by category is so that I can easily grab the appropriate hashtags for any given post (nobody wants to see a picture of New York on the #YoullLikeTacoma hashtag.) 

From there you can either load them into your planning app, or just keep them on a note on your phone for easy copy + paste action on your posts. 

There is a lot to learn about hashtagging on Instagram, and I know this post only covers the tip of the iceberg. Please don’t hesitate to ask your hashtag related QUESTIONS in the comments below and I will be happy to answer them!