Picking a hashtag can be stressful, just ask anyone getting married. But it really doesn’t have to be if you brainstorm correctly. You want to find a hashtag that is unique and natural to type. It shouldn’t be hard to spell, too long to remember, or something so general that your hashtag will quickly fill with photos of someone’s Friday night mechanical bull party. I’d also skip anything that involves flipping keyboards because we all know that’s the pits. The most important thing to remember is that you will have to stick with this and it will go at the end of all your captions, so try to pick something that won’t go out of style before it even picks up.
Where do I find hashtags?
When I have to think of a new hashtag I start by making a word cloud.
A word cloud allows me to write down every word that comes to mind when I’m thinking about an account. What are the type of things that people would say in the comments? What are the ~vibes~ you’re looking for? What are some ways that people interact with the subject of your content? When brainstorming for a travel account, I had my meeting go through an entire travel experience. We started with thinking about the trip, then booking the trip, then the lead up and packing, then day of, and so on and so on. This allowed us to think of what all the keywords are that we interact with through each stage of the experience.
Once you feel like you’ve recreated the dictionary then you should go get some water.
The edit process
Yay! Congrats on your hydration. Now I bet you’re looking at your list and thinking oh god, what have I done? Don’t freak! There are no bad ideas when brainstorming except for ideas that involve skipping lunch. Take a look at the words you’ve chosen and get rid of any that you no longer think fit. I usually start with things that discriminate against part of the audience. If you’re putting together a travel account then maybe you don’t want something that is only International since it cuts off much of your audience that only travels domestically. Also get rid of any words that are just bad and you don’t want anyone to see.
Once you’ve done that, just starting mixing! Keep lists of all your ideas, even ones that you later find out belong to your competition. It’s helpful to be able to backtrack and understand why you gravitated towards ideas, even if they ended up not being publicly used. Once you come up with 5 ideas that you really like, organize them by preference. Now comes the scary part...check to see if anyone else is using the same hashtag. This shouldn’t be a problem if your idea was unique enough but sometimes people just had the idea before you and that’s okay. It’s even okay if other people have used in the past. It’s all about how active it is and what your goals are for the Instagram account and hashtag. Is it something that you think will be big enough to take over the hastag? Or did you really want “blackcat” but weren’t going to post photos of black cats? Think about how often you’ll be looking through the community for content. You don’t want to be slowed down by people not actually using it.
Sometimes all five ideas are taken and that’s a bummer. But that’s why you still have your list to go back to. It can take a few goes to find the perfect one so don’t worry if you have to leave it for a bit. Once you find it though, oh man does it feel good.