My Secret Sauce Hashtag Strategy for Small Business Owners

Jul 05, 2021

Want the secret sauce for hashtag strategies? 🤫

It’s your lucky day!

I have a formula that will help you maximize the reach and potential of your Instagram posts through hashtags.

This is the way I create different hashtag groupings, for not only my business but for my clients, too.

This formula builds off of content pillars for your social media. Grab the tutorial for getting your content pillar on-lock here.

Okay, do you have your content pillars ready?

Yes? Good

Let’s get into it!

1. Have your 5 Content Pillars Ready

Make sure you have a content pillar assigned for each day of the week, Monday through Friday.

We want to end up with 30 different hashtags sets for each day of the week. This allows us to consistently using different hashtags for each and every post. Because variety is the spice of life 😉 ESPECIALLY when it comes to hashtag strategy!

The foundation for creating those 30 starts with your pillars, so I want to stress again that you need to have these pillars for this formula to work.

2. The First 10

Each set will start with the same 10 branded hashtags.

What are branded hashtags, you ask? 

Good question!

These are brand specific to you and to your niche. Using myself as an example, these will be hashtags related to content strategy or my location.

This set would also relate to the subject of any kind of specific posts you’re making.

Pro tip: Make sure you are re-evaluating these first ten every couple of months or so, to check on their performance. Over time, these hashtags can start getting used to frequently which will lessen their performance. Make sure you hit REFRESH every once and a while!

The ones that you can keep in these 10 without reevaluation are ones that are subjects you would like to be known for - or hashtags created out of your name.

3. The Next 15

Still focusing on the 5 pillar-focused sets, we are going to work on getting the next 15 hashtags for each set.

I know, that sounds like A LOT. 😅

But I PROMISE I have an easy way to break those down even further -  to make sure you are getting unique and well-thought-out hashtags.

First, think about what the pillar is for that day of content. For example, Monday’s content pillar for me is content strategy or content tips. So I’ll go in and find hashtags related to that.

Tuesday is social media tips or Instagram strategy.

You want to find hashtags that speak directly to the subject that you have assigned for that day.

To recap:
- You should have the same 10 branded hashtags for each day
- The next 15 are custom hashtags that directly relate back to the content pillar.

Let’s break it down even further 👇

We want to diversify the style of these 15 hashtags. We don’t always want to use those super popular, high competition hashtags like #risingtidesociety or ones that you see millions of posts using it.

If all you use are super popular, high competition hashtags, you WILL get lost in a sea of posts super quickly.

We want:
👉5 low competition
👉5 medium competition
👉5 high competition

THIS is the biggest question I get asked. A lot of people ask “Amber! How do I figure out what's low competition, medium competition, or high competition?!”

Here is how I loosely categorize them:

Low competition - 5,000 - 20,000 posts

Medium competition - 20,000 - 100,000 posts
High competition - 100,000 - 500,000 ++ posts

To make it even simpler though - I use an app called Flick.

This makes it *super* easy to click into different categories of hashtags and see what is performing well in each of those categories - low, medium, and high.

Flick takes out the guesswork and the time spent combing through to check the usage of the different hashtags you want to use. Right from the beginning, you can see where each of them is in terms of usage.

I will also note that this is a paid app. There are lots of free apps out there, but this one is intuitive to use and makes everything SO much easier ✅

Wanna see an example of me using Flick? Check out my Youtube video for this post, where I do a walkthrough of how I use this software to quickly grab the hashtags I need.

And remember - it never hurts to switch it up! 

I like to re-evaluate and switch these hashtags out about once a month.

Instagram changes on the daily, and often lots of people start using certain hashtags SUUUPER quickly, all at once.

We want to keep tabs on which hashtags move from low, medium, or high usage.

It might be a bit of extra work, but it gives you a BIG competitive advantage 😉

So, now we have 25 hashtags for each of your 5 days of the week.

But, what about the last 5? 🤔

4. The Last 5

What now?!

We have room for 5 more on each day!

I know, you’re probably thinking, how could you possibly find more hashtags?

You might be saying, “Amber I don’t have any more time to find more!”

Good news - you don’t need to.

You can leave it at 25 hashtags.

Here is your permission slip. 📝

But, the last 5 can really add that extra oomph and help you get super specific to the audience you are looking for.

The last 5 hashtags are ones that are going to be very unique to the post.

Instagram will LOVE this because this is where you are tailoring these hashtags specifically to the content that you are going to be posting.

So we had those 25 that all tie back to the content, right?

Now, let’s get even more granular.

For example, let’s say my post was one on Canva tips. In my earlier 25, I could have used hashtags like #canvahacks #canvatips.

In the last 5 here, I can get into it and post #canvatipsforphotographers or #canvahacksforcontentcreators.

This way, you get five unique hashtags to round out the set. It’s a little extra step, but it’s SO worth it 💪

Let’s break it down again for you:

Here is what the 30 hashtags on each post will break down to.

⚡️10 branded hashtags
⚡️5 high competition hashtags
⚡️5 medium competition hashtags
⚡️5 low competition hashtags
⚡️5 unique-to-the-post hashtags

As we round this all out, you may have heard that you shouldn’t use all 30 hashtags.

There is controversy in the Instagram community about how many is best to use, but I think “Free real estate - may as well use it!”

I do have a caveat though.

Hashtag strategy is not the be-all and end-all.

You will not go viral because you picked out bomb hashtags.

Hashtags are there to boost and accentuate great content.

They will get more eyes on the AMAZING things that you create.

Now that you have a base to create a strategy moving forward, you can lift your content and keep it top of mind for your audience.

Need a visual for all of this strategy?

Go check out the video over on Youtube (and don’t forget to subscribe!)


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