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Should I be using hashtags? What are the best hashtags to attract lots of likes? Should I create my own hashtag?

Three common questions that trigger one universal reaction.


Let me help clear a myth for you - Hashtags are extremely powerful, but they aren’t magic. Like anything, you have to work at building your hashtag presence one day and one piece of content at a time.

If it were easy and simply pasting a few random words generated an additional thousand likes, then everyone would be doing it!

Quick disclaimer, there is no instant shortcut. Well, there is one amazing app - but I’ll explain how to use it right at the end of this guide.

What I’d like to show you is my data-driven approach focused on Relevancy and Authenticity – which are two of the pillars that I drive my entire philosophy around.

What are you offering?

Being real with you, if you’re just promoting your own content for selfish reasons, it will be highly ineffective to put a string of hashtags to market your new music video or song snippet.

However, if you were offering producer tips, sharing similar musician struggles or even posting rapper memes; there’s hope out there for you. As long as your content fits within an easy to describe niche, you just need to tap into the existing community posting similar content.

Implement the SMH formula


Let me explain my personal formula – it’s super easy. Search your term within Instagram and a suggestion of the most popular related tags are shown with the volume of results per tag.

Open the Notes section on your phone and write down 25 of the top, most relevant tags that meet the following rules:

  • 10 x Small hashtags (10K – 50K)

  • 10 x Medium hashtags (50K -> 500K)

  • 5 x Huge hashtags above 500K+.

Even though you might be tempted to use hashtags with a few million results e.g #producer or #rapper, it will be near impossible to compete against influencers and the sheer volume of posts in that category.

Within a few moments of refreshing a 1 Million+ hashtag feed, your post would slide down the rankings and miss out from generating any momentum.

Top Nine, Top Nine, Top Nine

Every single hashtag has it’s own global feed of all the thousands of people using that phrase. Unlike the regular Instagram Feed; Hashtag content is ranked in chronological order but also has an additional Instagram Story (which last for 24 hours) and a Top 9 grid of the most popular posts.

The aim of the SMH strategy is to move your photo or video up the Top 9 rankings on the Small tags first and then conquer the Medium tags. Only then will your content have a chance of ranking on the Huge tags and perhaps make your content go ‘viral’
(I really can’t stand that word).

Because of the huge competition for attention, you have a higher change of ranking in the top 9 on a 20K hashtag feed compared to a 200K feed.

One thing I haven't mentioned to you guys so far is NOT to put these hashtags in the caption body of your post. Instead, Paste the tags as a comment on your own Post.

Hashtags work on Instagram Stories too as plain text or as an option from the Stickers menu!


Hashtag Domination

After experimenting for a few weeks with different combinations, you’ll probably find out which tags are generating the most momentum for you. It’s now time to follow these hashtags and implement Gary Vee’s $1.80 Strategy.

Quickly watch this incredible explanation video and start leaving your 2 cents (opinions, thoughts and questions) as comments on the Top 9 of at least 18 of the hashtags you are using in your posts.


Yes, this takes a lot of time, probably THIRTY MINUTES out of your day. Trust me, it’s generates momentum really quickly!

In the last two weeks, what has worked best for me is to include 1 key hashtag in my Instagram bio that I frequently engage with. As a result, I wake up to about 15 new followers a day.

That only works because I understand my niche and develop my content around direct relevancy and authenticity to #socialmediamarketing.

By my third experiment post with the SMH Formula, I ranked #1 on 2 different hashtags I frequently use #SocialMediaStrategist and #SocialMediaContent.


Focalmark – The Instagram Hashtag App

True to my word, I did promise you a shortcut. If I were you, I would only suggest this strategy on artistic imagery rather than your content.

Download a free app called Focalmark and choose from the list of categories. Pick very carefully based on the content of your photo.

As a photographer, this app is incredible; but as a musician it’s a little limiting towards Concerts and Live Music.


If this article sparked a fire inside you to do better, please do me a favour and spread the word!
For more value-added content, you're welcome to grab a FREE copy of my All About Helping eBook.
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