Solve All Your Hashtag Headache with Matthew Pierce

All the fuss about hashtags are now coming to an end!

In this week’s episode, Matthew Pierce of joined us and debunked the biggest misconception about hashtags. From just a spreadsheet of hashtag data from her wife, he was able to create and build it as a tool for businesses to optimize their hashtag strategy on Instagram.

Relevance is huge whe using hashtags. The more long-tailed your hashtag is, the higher chances of it being relevant. Matthew shared his 3 pillars of hashtag strategy:

1. hashtags that describe your business/industry

2. hashtags that is specific to your content or traffic

3. hashtags that describe your audience/location

Following these 3 tips and making sure that your content speaks directly to your audience are excellent steps in winning your hashtag strategy.

Give yourself a thousand dollars worth of hashtag knowledge when you listen to this week’s episode.

Visit Matthew’s website:



Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley, and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain Marketing. Today, my guest is Matthew Pierce. Matthew is the co founder and developer of hashtags, the easy tool to research and optimize your Instagram hashtags. Matthew, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Matthew Pierce 0:39

Hey, Katie, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. Well,

Katie Brinkley 0:42

it’s been great because you and I have had the opportunity to talk a little bit about hashtags. In the DMS, we’ve had some conversations about hashtags, I use your product, and we’re gonna get into the whole hashtag conversation, because I feel like everybody right now has a bit of a hashtag headache. So we’re going to solve the hashtag questions and problems. But before we even dive into hashtags, I would love it. If we start back at the beginning. Tell us a little bit about what it is that you do and what led you to starting hashtag Slayer.

Matthew Pierce 1:15

Yeah, sure thing. So I’m a I’m a developer, marketer, designer, and my wife’s a designer and marketer as well. We met in design school have the exact same degree. And then after all of that, she went into more of a marketing coaching kind of space. And she was coaching her her clients on their marketing on Instagram. And after a while, she noticed that a lot of them were really struggling with their hashtags. So she made a spreadsheet that essentially would have different columns where you could kind of organize your hashtags based on the number of posts each hashtag had. And then there was one cell in that column where you’d click it, and it would kind of randomize and shuffle those hashtags around pretty rudimentary, but her clients started using this and they saw a massive increase in their reach. So just by giving them that variety in the hashtag size, and making sure that that was the case, they really started to perform better. So she showed this to me. And I was like, Wow, do you know what you have here? And she says, Yeah, I’ve got a really awesome spreadsheet. So me being a programmer, I was like, I think there’s a little more here, I think we can build this out. But uh, I was also naive. And I said, Well, it’s just a spreadsheet, I should be able to make this into a web app. And like, I don’t know, a weekend. And six months later, we launched hashtag

Katie Brinkley 2:37

Wow, that’s awesome. And you know, talk about like, combining forces. I love it. So before we even dive into even more hashtags, with being a developer, how has that really kind of benefited you with what it was that you created? I mean, like, do you think that having it as the app or like, just knowing like, Hey, this is more than just a spreadsheet, this is a really good idea.

Matthew Pierce 3:01

I think the developer aspect of it, it’s helpful that I have a marketing background. But what I really noticed is when I first got into the Instagram space, talking about hashtags, I was like, why would anyone care what I have to say, but I think the more analytical programming side of my brain, allowed me to bring some unique perspectives on it. So I was analyzing the data and trying to look at patterns looking at behavior a bit more. And so it allowed me to come up with new strategies for hashtags, or explain things in a different way that may be at least trying to be a little more accurate. So I think that was a kind of a competitive advantage in the Instagram marketing space that I honestly hadn’t considered. Yeah, and

Katie Brinkley 3:41

I think that too, with hashtags, a lot of people don’t realize like how important they are, I mean, even there, one of the most important ways to be found organically on Instagram. And I think that that’s one of the things we’re left with, like, I don’t know how to Hashtag blessed, you know, there, I got a hashtag out there. So before we dive into all of the different ways that you can utilize hashtags, let’s just start with what a hashtag

Matthew Pierce 4:09

is. All right, right down to the principles. So, you know, a hash tag is a lot of people think it’s just a way to get more views and a way to get more reach. And that’s not the case, a hash tag is simply an organization method, you’re helping Instagrams, filesystem, or any other social media platform, understand how to properly label and categorize your content, as you do this more effectively. And specifically, those software’s those social media networks are able to put your account and your content in a very accurate niche down box. And the better they can do this, the more likely they are to show you to the right people.

Katie Brinkley 4:46

Well, and I think a lot of people are like, Wait, you’re so you mean, the pound sign. And these these hashtags evolved out of accident. They were on Twitter, and all of a sudden people are like, Oh, whoops. Now there’s this whole new categorization Jun, and people are being found. And it really happened because of the developer

Matthew Pierce 5:04

error. Correct. Hashtags happened from a developer error from the Twitter

Katie Brinkley 5:09

standpoint, because they didn’t realize that the hashtag was categorizing all of these words, and it oh, well, then let’s just involve it into what we have. Now.

Matthew Pierce 5:20

That’s not the history I’ve heard actually from well, I love it. Let’s hear it. Let’s hear it. Okay. So from what I understand, do you remember IRC clients, this is going back. So if everyone knows slack, so slack is essentially a much more modernized and professional version of an IRC client, which is an Internet Relay Chat client. And these are essentially open source programs, people used to use to access chat rooms, so you’d connect to a server. And there would be different rooms or channels like you have in slack on the server. And each room that you’d enter would be, it’d be titled with the hashtag in front of the pound sign, and then the name of the room. And so that’s kind of initially, that’s how people would organize things. This then led to an inspiration. The guy’s name is escaping me right now. But he’s a, he’s a very prominent kind of design technologist developer in the States. And he’s often in the startup space. But he was at a conference back in 2007. And he, he was like, hey, it’d be nice if we had a way to know that all of our tweets, were referring back to the same thing. So he suggested, let’s just put a pound sign, and this one word in front of every tweet. And that’s kind of how it started. Initially, they weren’t actually linking all the posts together. But after people doing this for about two years, in 2009, Twitter finally actually made it a proper functionality.

Katie Brinkley 6:46

I love it, look at this, it’s not quality time on on Rocky Mount marketing, unless you’re learning something that is awesome. Because the way I heard it was not that way. And I love this way, way more. So we found this hashtag get started on Twitter, have actually started before that and chat rooms. And now it’s this way of categorizing your content. Now, there’s been a lot of new developments with Instagram, it feels like Instagram, and just keeping up to date on it is a full time job. And it doesn’t help when the head of Instagram kind of keeps coming out with different announcements and different features. But one of the biggest announcement that everyone really kind of was like, Whoa, happened last year in 2021. And they said, you only need to use three to five hashtags. So let’s just start there. Before we even dive into his latest announcement,

Matthew Pierce 7:39

I’m really glad you’re setting it up this way. So because it really just kind of builds into exactly the same thing they’re trying to do. So they said, you only need to use three to five hashtags. So I think it’s important to know that this was from their at creators account. And that means that they’re targeting influencers, people who are being on the more creative side on Instagram, and they may not be spending a ton of time building out a big hashtag strategy, as a lot of small businesses might do. And not to mention, plenty of influencers have much larger audiences than small businesses do. So what is all that matter? Essentially, the bigger your account is, the less important hashtags are necessarily going to be because you have so many other things that are coming in and bringing you traffic. Now, the other thing is, if you are an influencer, who’s much more on the creative side, you’re not being very strategic, you don’t want to spend all this time building out this strategy, you’re probably simply just gonna add hashtags to your posts off the top of your head when it comes time to posting. So you’re about to hit share, or publish. And you say, Oh, here’s something that’s related, oh, here’s something too, oh, here’s this third hashtag, it’s kind of irrelevant, and you just keep going. And people have always been told, Instagram lets you use 30 hashtags. So you need to use 30. hashtags. The problem with this is, the more hashtags you use, the higher your chances are of those hashtags being irrelevant, especially if you’re just looking at it as as any hashtag will do. So I think that is really the key and why they said limit it to three to five, it’s almost a guardrail for Instagram influencers, you know, it’s, it’s like three to five, it’ll be hard to mess up. So stick there.

Katie Brinkley 9:19

Well, and Matthew, this is the thing too, I’m so glad that you brought up what he said was published from the Creator account. So I love the fact that you brought it up that this was posted from the creators account, because being a content creator, and being someone that’s on Instagram for Business are two totally different things. And that’s, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves when I see these content creators out there saying, Oh, you need to post once a day, a real once a day and then do it and I’m like, Who would somebody that’s trying to grow their business? They don’t have time for that. And so that is why hashtags are so important and finding the right hashtags are so important because it If you’re just using, like you said, 30, random hashtags, one you’re never going to be seen. And two is it’s kind of a waste of time and effort. I mean, if you do hashtag social media, well, you’re not gonna see hardly any social media posts, you’re gonna see a whole bunch of really pretty influencers, dancing and showing off some product. But I think that that’s where you have to really have that hashtag strategy. So three to five hashtags. Yeah, if you have 100,000 200,000 A million followers, that’s fine three to five hashtags. But for most of us who are 105,000 10,000, those 30 Hashtags need to have a strategy behind them. And and I want to just say the next announcement that we just heard from the head of Instagram was, do hashtags matter? Not really, what say you with this announcement? Matthew?

Matthew Pierce 10:52

Yeah, so that was on his Instagram stories. And Adam necessarily was responding to a question that said, Do hashtags get you views? And what he said is not really, they may give you a higher chance of being shown on places like hashtag pages or Explorer, for example. But in general, I wouldn’t think of hashtags as a way to get more views, trying to be an accurate quote, they’re probably a bit of a paraphrase, but it’s

Katie Brinkley 11:19

pretty darn close to exactly what was pretty darn close.

Matthew Pierce 11:23

And drilled into my mind. So what’s he saying their hashtags? Are they a way to get you more views? He says, No, don’t think of them as a way to get more views. I think often when you hear these messages from Instagram or other large corporations, you have to be very flicked very specifically at the language. He’s not saying hashtags don’t get you more views. He’s saying don’t think of them that way. And that’s an important distinction. Because actually, let me let me pause there for a moment, because of tick tock, okay, because tick tock has come up and they’ve become so popular, what they’re known for is being able to give you highly relevant content to view very quickly and very easily, they are masters at showing you the right content to entertain you or interest you. And this has caused a huge problem for Instagram, Instagram, it’s been around a lot longer, over a decade now. And with that, comes a history of perhaps bad behavior. So, you know, we all know it’s, it’s much more difficult to unlearn a bad habit than it is to build a good one. And that I think, is what Instagram is trying to do here is they’re trying to course correct their user base, and fix our bad habits with hashtags. Why? Because our bad habits with hashtags have put Instagram at a competitive disadvantage compared to Tik Tok. So for over 10 years, people have been looking at hashtags and saying I can use 30, I have to use 30 Doesn’t matter if those hashtags have anything to do with what I’m posting. So Instagram has a much, much larger collection or library of content to recommend than Tik Tok does. And that entire library has been mislabeled and miscategorized. So it they have all these shelves, all these books in their library, and you’re like, Oh, can I go see this? Now? I don’t know, maybe it might be there. So that’s a real big problem for them is they’re struggling to actually show you the right content, because people have been mislabeling everything in their library. So why does Adam necessarily then say, I wouldn’t think of hashtags as a way to get more views, because he’s trying to change this behavior. He wants you to think of hashtags as a way to properly categorize your content, properly organize it, and correctly specifically label what you’re posting. This then helps Instagram to understand what it is, show it to the right people, and then you get more views. So it’s kind of a roundabout way. Yes, hashtags do get you more views. But not if you think of them as a way to get more views. You have to think of them as a way to organize everything. And then if you help Instagram to organize, they’re going to be able to actually show you to the right people.

Katie Brinkley 14:10

Matthew, I love this. I love this. And it’s so true. Because what we saw with tick tock coming out and being such a strong force for during the pandemic was, all of a sudden, all these people were leaving, because right now I’m not seeing anything that I like on Instagram. So now Instagrams having to play catch up, and we all know that that meta is the king of the copycat, and they copied, you know, with with Instagram stories that Snapchat, you know, we’re seeing reels, which is from tick tock, and they weren’t thinking ahead. So like you said, they have all these books in their library, but they’re basically just thrown in a pile on the floor, and you have to search through them. And that is a great analogy. So hashtags, they make sense. You do need to use them, but you need to have a strategy behind them. You have to find those needs. Use hashtags so that you can get your your content in front of the right people. Okay, how do I do that?

Matthew Pierce 15:08

How do you do that? That’s a big question. So you have to make sure you’re properly using the right hashtags. We’ll talk about relevancy. First, there’s a lot of other technical stuff we can go into. But making sure your hashtags are relevant is key. And I start with kind of three building blocks in my hashtag strategy. That means one, the first one is hashtags that describe your business or industry. So hashtags that talk about what business you are, in what hashtags describe your competitors, what are they using. The second one is hashtags that describe

Katie Brinkley 15:42

before you before you dive into what the second one is, like. So for me, I use like social media strategist, Denver, small business owner, you know, those are all things that I do in the business that I’m in. So a lot of real estate agents, little tin, real estate, Littleton realtor, you know, what the business that you’re in finding new homes. So those are kind of finding the niche hashtags of what business it is that you do, and that you are in if you own an art gallery, art curator, Napa, or whatever. So just wanted to clarify that really fast. Okay, back to you. You know, I

Matthew Pierce 16:15

appreciate that. Yeah, you want to have states that describe your business, as well as what maybe service you provide, if it’s a specific service. So the second one would be a building block, that’s really going to break down into a few more, and that is your content or your topics. Typically, when someone builds a social media strategy, they have content pillars, and they probably recycle these each week. So if you’re only posting three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, you’re gonna have a different content pillar that you talk about each day. So let’s say you’re a real estate agent, okay? One day, you might have testimonials, people who have sold their homes with you, or bought homes from you, maybe every Wednesday or every Monday, we’ll start at the beginning of the week, every Monday, you have a testimonial there, that’s your content filler. So these would be hashtags like real estate testimonial, that’s off the top of my head, I’m sure there’s a lot more if we were to search them up. Second, might be a piece of education. So maybe you’re teaching people what to look for when they’re buying a home, or how to properly stage their home when they’re selling. These could be two different topics. But you’re going to have your education content pillar that you might break down into a couple of topics. But for each one of these topics, you’re then going to have a collection of hashtags that speak specifically to those Friday, okay, maybe it’s time for some entertainment, or maybe it’s time for actually showing off some houses you’re selling. So you might be doing some reels that give some cool fun tours of the spaces that you have on offer. And again, you’d have hashtags that specifically are specific like describing this, like maybe virtual tours, or something of that sort specific to what you’re showing. Now. This is your entire content building blocks. So you can see that one breaks down and gets very niched as you go, then we finally get to one that people often forget about. And the last building block is hashtags that describe your audience. So you need to know who you’re selling to. And you need to determine who that is. If you’re a local business, those may be hashtags that describe your your location. These could be geographic, hashtags, such as your city, maybe even your neighborhood, if you’re in like a niche, kind of cool, kitschy neighborhood of your your city, maybe there’s certain slogans that your state has that you could be using, so on and so forth. And of course, understanding who your buyer is, Are they young moms? Are they newlyweds? Are you selling houses only to newlyweds, you’re going to understand exactly who it is. And you want to find hashtags that describe those people hashtags, that they’re using themselves in their own content. And those well hashtags that they’re following, as long as those actually describe them. So that’s kind of how you make sure your hashtags are relevant. Do they be your hashtags describe your business, your content, and your audience? I really want to nail down the audience one, though, for a second, because people forget this one. And they are like, Oh, my hashtags are irrelevant. It’s great. I’ve described my business. I’ve described my content. The only people who are following my account are my competitors and industry peers. And that’s why it’s because people don’t think about, oh, I actually need to get in front of my audience as well. So use hashtags that describe your audience and make sure that your content speaks directly to that audience, make it clear that there’s a link between your post and that hashtag.

Katie Brinkley 19:40

Yes, yes, yes, yes. And I think that that’s where sitting down and really identifying who your target audience is, is so essential. It makes creating a content strategy. It’s so much easier and therefore your hashtag strategy is so much easier. And it’s not just like, Oh, well I work with so For me, I typically work with corporate women. So women who come from corporate ages 40 to 55, that have left the corporate world, and they’re starting their own business. And they know that they need to do a lot of things. But they also know that they need to delegate. And that’s where I come in. So I mean, I know exactly who I am talking to. But that’s what you the more targeted that you can be. And the more you can figure out who your ideal client customer is, then you can speak directly to them, you can use the hashtags that you’re searching. So if you’re a realtor in Denver, you can use hashtag 50 to 80 homes or hashtag 52 Ad Events, if you want to get into people that might be searching the events that are in Denver, what you’re saying, basically, Matthew is stop using hashtag home, if you’re a real estate real estate agent.

Matthew Pierce 20:49

Yeah, you want to really avoid these generic basic hashtags. And if you think of it like the same way you would search engine optimization, if you’re a small business, especially the chance of you showing up for if I go on to Google and I put in home sales, just that alone, chances are, you’re not going to show up as an independent realtor. So you need to think of something much more specific, such as, you know, independent home sales in Denver, Colorado. So the more longtail you can get with your hashtags, the better chances you will have. So we talked

Katie Brinkley 21:27

about finding those right hashtags, there’s been a lot of talk about how many hashtags to use, in your opinion. What do you think? Do you think nine to 12? Three to five? Use all 30? In your opinion, what is the magic secret sauce?

Matthew Pierce 21:45

Every time someone has a magic number? It’s either because well, this person said so or Instagram said so. Or is a it’s a study that really isn’t relevant. My favorite is when people say that there’s you should always be using 11 hashtags. And they point to this one study. And they say that that’s like the golden number. What they don’t point out is that that one study looks at only fortune 500 businesses with like, under 1000 followers. So it was a very, you know, that’s not really relevant to most small businesses. None of us are fortune 500 companies. And that’s a bit of a tangent. But every time that someone gives a magic number, you want to look into why that is, because chances are, it’s not the most substantiated. And even if they have done a data analysis, they said, we looked at a million posts, all that the posts with 11 Hashtags did better. Maybe that’s true. But you’re also not taking into account a lot of other metrics, like the quality of their content, what time they’re posting, where are they encouraging people to share what there’s, what format of content was it so all of these things matter when wondering what the best number to use is, and we never have that data in any accurate way. So I don’t have a magic number. My magic number is use as many hashtags as are relevant, if you can be like really specific and relevant to what you’re posting, and still have 30 hashtags, which is totally possible if you get strategic and spend some time upfront, do that, because every hashtag is another avenue that leads back to your business. But if you only have five or 10 hashtags, and that’s as many as you can include, while still being relevant, that’s where you want to stay.

Katie Brinkley 23:27

I love it. So Matthew, this leads me into the perfect segue, tell us a little bit more about what hashtag Slayer

Matthew Pierce 23:33

does. Okay, so hashtag Slayer connects directly to your Instagram account to take a look at your engagement metrics, your following size, your recent posts, and we use that to help you optimize your hashtag strategy. That kind of it works in three stages. First, you search up hashtags, then you add them to different collections, kind of like what I was talking about earlier, you know, your business collection, your different topics, and so on. And then when it comes time to posting, you don’t have to select your hashtags individually, you say, I know I’m talking about topics A, B, and C today. So you just toggle on each collection that you want to use. You hit Generate set. And you let our algorithm kind of look at all those metrics to find the optimized ratio of competitive hashtags and less competitive hashtags, and a whole bunch of other things that we could get into. But you kind of leave that all up to us. You’ve already done the work of deciding what hashtags you want to use. And then you don’t have to decide the whole thing when it comes down to posting so you just say topic, ABC generate, and we give you your set.

Katie Brinkley 24:38

I love it. And Matthew, I feel like you and I could have maybe like three, four, maybe five additional podcast episodes all about hashtags because there’s so much that’s tied into these little pound signs and the effect and the power that they can have we didn’t even getting get in to how you can utilize those for categorizing your content just for your own life. So I can’t thank you enough for coming on the show today. Where can people learn more about hashtag Slayer and about you,

Matthew Pierce 25:07

for sure it’s a hashtag or at hashtag Slayer app on Instagram.

Katie Brinkley 25:14

Awesome. And I know that you are always making changes with the app, you always have a ton of updates. And it’s always at the very top of the latest trends. So it’s not ever really tainted here. So I can’t thank you enough for coming on the show today. Go check out the hashtag Slayer app, follow them on Instagram, Matthew does reels and all sorts of things and provides a great education all about hashtags. Matthew, thank you again for coming on the show today.

Matthew Pierce 25:42

Yeah, thanks again. It was fun. Matthew, He has

Katie Brinkley 25:45

been the cure to all of our hashtag headaches, it really is true, you have to have a hashtag strategy. And there’s tools out there like hashtag Slayer that can help you with your hashtag strategy. There’s so much that goes into it and staying up to date with the latest trends, utilizing the hashtags that make the most sense for you in your business and finding the right amount of hashtags that are relevant for that post means everything and Matthew did give all the listeners of Rocky Mountain marketing, a huge discount on hashtag Slayer. So if you are sitting there saying hashtags, they are for me, I’m gonna go ahead. You’ve convinced me to start being more strategic with my hashtags, getting those collections together, I’m gonna go check out hashtag Slayer. So go to hashtag and enter in the Code R m m. So Rocky Mountain marketing, so RM M, and you will get 90% off of hashtag Slayer. Go check it out. It’s the tool that I use. I recommend it to all my clients. And it’s very, very user intuitive. It helps you with your hashtag strategy. And if today’s episode taught you anything, it’s that you need to have one if you need to be strategic with your hashtags, it is still one of the best way is to be found organically. For all of us small business owners that don’t have a million followers and aren’t creating content daily. Having a hashtag strategy is everything. So head over just hashtag entering the code RMM and start getting your hashtag strategy in place so that you no longer have a hashtag headache. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights