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Trending hashtags - The best hacks for more engagement Talkwalker

Download our free trending hashtag tracker

Why use a hashtag?

On Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, hashtags are essential. They help you spread your message to a wider audience, align your brand with a theme, encourage user-generated content, and best of all, boost engagement. Tweets with hashtags gain double the engagement as those without.

But for your brand to benefit from this engagement lift, you can’t just pull hashtags out of a hat. They have to be relevant, popular within your industry, and engaging your audience. This blog will show you how to find them.

Who owns a hashtag?

When it comes to brand engagement, there are two types of hashtags you can use -

Brand specific

These are hashtags, used by brands to gain campaign traction. They might be for a brand (#Nike, #Amazon) or campaign (#JustDoIt, #PrimeDay). You can try hijacking these hashtags for your own business benefit, but not as a long-term strategy.


These are the hashtags you can use to gain traction. They’re not brand focused, but generic terms that people use regularly as part of their posting habits.
They’re simple and wide-reaching, covering specific hobbies (#travel, #fitness), industries (#beauty, #fashion) or emotions (#love, #happy).
They’re also common. #photography was used 2.19 times per second last year across all social media networks.

Photo by @BrianSkerry. Harp Seal Pups Kissing! Two harp seal pups meet each other on the pack ice of Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, touching noses as they sniff one another. Pups are generally born in this region during February, spending about two weeks nursing from their mothers before heading off into the frigid arctic waters on their own. The decline of sea ice over the last decade has created a serious crisis for these animals, as pup mortality rates have increased substantially. If the climate continues to warm and sea ice disappears, the future is uncertain for this species. To see more ocean wildlife, and to learn more about my experiences photographing for National Geographic, follow me, @BrianSkerry, on Instagram. @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #harp #seal #pup #canada #arctic #ice #photooftheday #nationalgeographic #natgeo #harpseal #climatechange #globalwarming #instagood #followme #follow #saveouroceans #ocean #photography #travelphoto #wonderlust #travelphotographer

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

This post from National Geographic was the most engaging post with #photography in the last 13 months. But that doesn’t mean they own that hashtag.

These hashtags have a huge reach. But they’re too broad. To make your content more engaging, you need to find your industry trending hashtags.

How to identify trending hashtags on Twitter

Twitter offers tailored trends for each user, with industry stories based on your location, and who you follow. You can personalize this for different locations too (useful if you’re targeting somewhere different to where you are).

Twitter Trends example

The Trends for you feature on Twitter helps you find the conversations your consumers are engaging with.

Dig into these stories to find the hashtags that are engaging your audience.
But remember, these real-time trends only look at what is happening in your industry now, and won’t find you consistently popular hashtags. For that, you need to search further.

How to find Instagram hashtags

For Instagram posts, you need more detective work for your hashtag tracking.

Start by searching for your industry in the Instagram search bar, to find the most popular hashtag for your industry.

Instagram will display the current most popular posts for that hashtag, like so -

Instagram top posts example

You can quickly find the current top trending posts for any hashtag on Instagram.

Look at each of these posts in depth to find the hashtags these Instagrammers use to gain engagement, then try them yourself.

Again, this tactic only finds you the hashtags that are trending now. Not the ones that engage your industry throughout the year.

How to find the hashtags that trend all year round

Out of all the hashtag tracking tools available, there’s one easy way to find the industry hashtags that consistently engage.

Quick Search.

It’s your social media search engine for fast brand and communication insights. And that includes finding trending hashtags.

Search for your specific industry, and Quick Search will find the most popular hashtags for that topic. Whether that’s from the last 24 hours (for hashtag-jacking) or over 13 months (to get a long-term overview of the most effective hashtags).

#automotive word cloud

For the automotive industry, hashtags like #supercars, #carsofinstagram, and #carlifestyle were the most popular in the last 13 months.

You can click on any of the hashtags to see more related ones.

#carswithoutlimits word cloud

Clicking on #carswithoutlimits revealed #exoticcars and #itswhitenoise.

The trick with hashtag hacking is finding hashtags with a balance of reach and engagement. Using hashtags with huge engagement may seem a good idea, but hitting a more relevant audience will drive up your engagement.

This is where Quick Search comes into its own. You can compare the impact of hashtags alongside your brand name to see which is most impactful.

In this case, I compared the results for Chevrolet AND several of the hashtags found above. (See why AND is so important in my Boolean search operator blog post).

Chevrolet hashtag relevency

It’s clear that #carporn has the best reach. But #carswithoutlimits gains more engagement per mention when linked to Chevrolet.

This gives you a 13-month overview of your most impactful hashtags, but you can change your search duration to 7 days to find your most recent engaging hashtags. The methods above can also be replicated in Talkwalker’s Free Social Search to gain a quick 7-day insight.

Find your trending hashtags with Quick Search

The new way to find trending hashtags that your consumers use

But what about my hidden hashtag hack?

So far, you’ve seen what hashtags consumers use and actively engage when discussing a product.

But what about when they’re not talking about it? Just sharing pictures of it?

Using Quick Search, with proprietary image recognition technology, you can find images of brands without any written mentions of those brand. Simply put, hidden mentions.

Take Alpro for example -

Ice cream cookies. Can you tell you quickly they were melting? ‍♀️ Also - jazzy new backdrop as it was raining outside, in reality it’s my wallpaper. ‍♀️✨ For these you need two things - biscuits and ice cream. Simply take two biscuits of any kind, a spoonful of ice cream, sandwich the whole thing together and pop in the freezer for 15 minutes. ❄️ Ta dah - vegan ice cream cookies. NGL - you need pretty strong teeth for these as they are a complete mess to eat, but delicious all the same. Slightly off topic but following on from my story earlier - I need a few of you Sunshine’s for my blog. ‍♀️ Basically it is going live (hello - A slice of sunshine ) in June and I would like a few of you lovelies to feature on it. I’d like to interview/chat with a few of you about why you went vegan / your vegan journey and you need to be available for a face to face chat around mid June - I am south east based so I’m thinking London would be a good place to meet. ‍♀️ For those that replied who don’t live near enough - I am going to do a few Skype calls so you can be involved this way if you’d like too. ‍♀️ And it does not matter your background, age, life path or any of that stuff, I’d just like to create a whole wide spectrum of vegans and show we are people who have made a compassionate choice to live this way. So yeah, if any of you beautiful souls would like to be a part of my little sunshine blog - just let me know. As always, have a wonderful evening Sunshine’s.

A post shared by Soph ✨ (@sophie.bullimore) on

With no mention of Alpro in the text, this post was only discovered through image recognition.

When you look at the related hashtags for the brand mentions, and the hashtags related to the detected images of Alpro, you get different results.

Alpro written mentions hashtags

For written mentions of Alpro, #alpro, #vegan, and #healthyfood are most popular.

Alpro image mentions hashtags

But for hashtags related to images of Alpro, you now have #weightloss, #fitness, #februdairy appearing in your results.

This method finds the hidden hashtags consumers use when sharing your brand. Pretty cool, huh?

Hack those hashtags

Hashtags are an essential part of engaging your audience. And now, you know exactly which ones to use to gain that traction.

To find the right hashtag for your brand, request a demo of Quick Search. Or to help you organize the hashtags you use day to day (with stats on the most engaging), download my free trending hashtag tracker below.

Trending hashtag tracker CTA


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