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What is Hashtag Research?

Hashtags first appeared on the social media scene in 2007 when Chris Messina suggested using the pound sign followed by words to group Tweets. Since then they’ve — in Chris’s own words — “turned out to be a big thing.” Today, they do more than group Tweets.

Hashtags are an important element in social media marketing. You can use them to do the following:


  • Increase engagement with your audience
  • Build your brand
  • Promote your favorite causes
  • Advertise products and services
  • Create context for captions
  • Give viewers a tool for finding your content

If you’re not using hashtags, now is a great time to learn how to find and use hashtags for your next campaign. If you are using hashtags, read on to discover ways to make your hashtag research more effective.

What Is Hashtag Research?

Hashtag research is the process of finding, curating and testing hashtags to use in social media posts.  The hashtags you choose for your posts can make or break your campaigns. It’s not enough to slap a hashtag on your posts and move on. Find the right hashtag, and you can boost your visibility online. The wrong ones can bury your post in all of the conversations taking place on the platform.

Three essential questions drive the hashtag research process:


  • Which hashtags do you currently use consistently?
  • Are there hashtags that are popular with your target audience?
  • Do your competitors use hashtags in their posts?

If you’re familiar with keyword research, you have an idea of how it works. The goal is to identify the terms your audience is most likely to search when they want to find the type of content you produce. Your key performance indicators and marketing goals drive the process.

How to Find the Best Hashtags

The best hashtags are the ones that succinctly describe your brand and content, but where do you find them? Start here.

  1. Find out which hashtags your audience and competitors are using. Browse their feeds looking for the hashtags that appear frequently. They may be trending within the group or give you an idea of the terms they’re searching for.
  2. Search for related hashtags on your favorite platform. On Instagram and TikTok, type a topic in the search bar to find relevant hashtags. Click the Explore tab on Twitter to see the trending hashtags on the platform. 
  3. Use a hashtag generator. These hashtag tools give you suggestions for hashtags to use with your posts. They search social media sites to find the most popular and trending hashtags as well as related terms.

Alternatively, you may create your own hashtag. You can choose from one of the following types of hashtags:


  • Acronyms (#ootd)
  • Daily hashtags (#tbt)
  • Emojis (#smiley face)
  • Location or event (#orlando, #magicgame)
  • Name of a community  on the platform (#dogmomsofinstagram)
  • Name of your product or service (#bayareatoprealtor)
  • Relevant phrases (#liveyourbestlife)
  • Your niche within your industry (#birthdaypartyplanner) 

Selecting the Right Hashtags for Your Post

You may be tempted to look up the most popular and trending hashtags on your social media platforms, but that may not get the results you want. The top hashtags on a given platform can have billions of posts connected to them. Your post will be just one of many.

A better approach is to target your research for your content and audience. Brainstorm a list of potential hashtags. Refine the list by sorting the hashtags into categories like broad, narrow and specific.

As you choose your hashtags, consider the following:


  • The hashtag should be easy to spell and remember.
  • Choose hashtags that fit organically with the content you’re sharing.
  • Look for hashtags related to the trending hashtags on the platform.
  • Be mindful of the number of characters you use.
  • Make the hashtag actionable.
  • Incorporate searchable keywords in your hashtag.
  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your brand.

The right combination of hashtags can take your social media marketing strategy to a new level. Whether you’ve never used hashtags on your posts or have yet to see the value of including them, it’s worth your time to research and find the right hashtags. Your hard work deserves to be seen–use hashtags to help your audience find content and gain visibility for your brand.


Want to master the art of hashtags? Check out our How-to Hashtags Guide to learn the proper way to use hashtags on each social media platform.