What are the best Hashtags for Martial Arts Schools?

Hashtags have value, plus they’re free and easy to implement, so schools really ought to be including them in their posts. Here are three basic steps that will hopefully save you a lot of time and maximize the use of hashtags on social media, particularly for Instagram. If you appreciate what you read here, I kindly ask you to share this article with your peers. This is a common question martial arts schools often try to figure out and this just may be one of those quick reads that makes a big impact for martial arts schools everywhere.

Step 1 — Build your Hashtag list.
Think of hashtags as “keyword communities”. Each hashtag you reference in a post links to a community of people looking for and sharing similar content. This is a powerful way to introduce yourself to new audiences who exist in those communities. As a martial arts school, the communities you want to be seen in the most are the ones where your potential new clients are. This would be your town. It could also be local organizations or schools. The first step is to find the hashtags that people use in your town. Here’s an easy way to figure out what those might be. Let’s pretend I live in Spokane, Washington, USA. The first thing I’m going to do is search on Instagram in the Tags category for “spokane” and see what results I get.

Search for your community name (village, town, city, etc) and see what pops up.

When I type in “Spokane”, I unsurprisingly see hashtag #Spokane pop up with the largest result. This is a no-brainer to add to my list. But I also see a hashtag called “#SpokaneDoesntSuck” with over 90,000 posts. Hmm.. Let’s click on #Spokane and see the posts popping up in that hashtag.

Yes, it’s clear this is a very active hashtag, used by people living in Spokane. I would absolutely include this hashtag in every single post on my Instagram Channel. At the top of this hashtag I see people are using “#Spokane” in their Instagram story — this is a relatively new feature of Instagram and I’ll talk about this one a bit more later one. I also see as the top related hashtag “#SpokaneDoesntSuck” which we saw earlier. Let’s see what’s going on with this one.

Another winning hashtag. Apparently the local Spokane community has a unique and humorous hashtag that you wouldn’t have known about intuitively. Good thing we went digging! Nice find. Add this hashtag to our list. The next to check out is if there are any other ways to reference this community. For example, some people may clarify the state they are talking about, so let’s go back to the search feature and see what comes up when we type in “SpokaneWA”.

Bam. Two more hashtags that we can use, “#spokewa” and “#spokanewashington”. Notice there are other hashtags related to Spokane, but they don’t have very much activity so they aren’t very relevant. After doing a similar style of creative searching, I came across a few other sizeable hashtags worth using including #spokanegram & #spokanevalley. I noticed #spokaneriver was another sizeable tag, but when I looked at the photos I saw that all the photos were taken at a river. Unless my school was literally on the Spokane River, I wouldn’t use this hashtag because it’s just kind of rude to the people in that community. I don’t want to come across as me trying to spam hashtags with ineffective ads — I want to feel like I’m part of the community. So let’s review our hashtags so far:

#spokane #spokanedoesntsuck #spokanegram #spokewa #spokanewashington

These are your community hashtags. Since your business is not only part of the community but likely a leader of your community, then you want to make sure that these tags are associated with all of your posts.

Next we’re going to create your own unique community hashtag. We want to create a brand new hashtag has nobody on the internet has used before (or maybe has rarely ever been used). If our school is called “Karate Nation America”, but we find that hashtag #karatenationamerica is being used by another school from another area, then we may want to get more creative with our tag. We could look at abbreviating our business name or create a slogan that includes our business name. For example #WeAreKarateNation”. The goal is to keep it clean and simple so that you can verbally tell people without having to explain how to spell it. Bonus points if people feel a sense of belonging when they type it. Hashtag “#WeAreKarateNation” seems legit. Let’s add it to our list.

#WeAreKarateNation #spokane #spokanedoesntsuck #spokanegram #spokewa #spokanewashington

As your channel continues to grow, you may consider adding more brand specific hashtags. Perhaps you might want a tag for your competition team (#KNATeam), or your adult fitness program (#KNAFitness), or your preschoolers class (#KNAtinyturtles). Make sure your students also know about whatever tags you create so that they can be part of the online community (or to put it another way, they can do the marketing for you).

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags. You do not need to use all 30. In fact, there’s little value adding hashtags that do not directly speak to your students or surrounding community. Hashtags like “#martialarts”, “#blackbelt”, “#karate”, will not bring you the localized attention that you care about. The only case I would recommend using these types of “martial arts” tags are if you are marketing yourself or your business to the worldwide martial arts community. Remember, it’s not the quantity of followers you have that dicatates the success of your instagram channel — it’s the quality. Instagram is going to treat a channel with 100 followers and 99 likes/comments per post as way more relevant than a channel with 100,000 followers and only 10 likes/comments per post. Get real people talking — avoid the spam tactics.

Step 2 — Create Hashtag Shortcuts
After you’ve built your list of hashtags, you’re going to find it’s very tedious to type them manually for every post. If you’re on an iPhone, use the Text Replacement feature to create a shortcut. Go to:

Settings>General>Keyboard>Text Replacement

From here you can create a codeword that will use the ‘auto-correct’ feature on your phone to fill in the tags. For example, as the Social Media Director for Hyper Martial Arts, I have a particular list of hashtags, one of them being “#HyperMA”. Nearly every time I mention “#HyperMA”, I also want to mention the other hashtags in use, so I have created “#HyperMA” as my shortcut. Now on my phone, whenever I type “#HyperMA”, my phone automatically spits out all the hashtags that I want to use.

Sorry Android users, I’m sure there is a way to do something like this on your phone, but I don’t use Android, so I just don’t know. Send me a private message if you figure it out and I’ll update this article for my droid squad.

Step 3Add most of your tags as your first *comment* (not in the text description)
This step isn’t necessary, but there are some benefits to using your 1st comment as the place to dump your tags versus the text description. Some people consider the “overuse” of hashtag as abuse of the Instagram system so if they see your text description include an endless sea of tags, they’re going to think you’re using spam tactics to gain attention. What we’re doing here is not abusing the system, but to avoid conflict and to keep our core audience’s focus on the actual message of the post, we can hide our community hashtags. Instagram will consider the hashtags that you include as the first comment to your own post to be part of that image’s hashtag collection and your photo will still appear in that hashtag collection. My recommendation is to keep one or two hashtags in the post description, primarily your own unique tags (example “#WeAreKarateNation” referenced earlier). And for all the other community tags, add those as the first comment. As your followers scroll through your feed, you want them to read the photo’s text description and see a link to your custom community. Clicking that tag will keep them engaged in your world. The other tags like #Spokane, #SpokaneWA, etc, those actually draw your followers away from you, so don’t make it easy for your followers to drop your attention.

BONUS Step — Instagram Story Hashtags
Instagram Stories are the new rage. Only the people that follow your channel have been able to see your story… that is until Instagram introduced hashtags into stories. By including your hashtags into Instagram stories, your stories will appear at the top of community hashtags as part of a hashtag collective story. Personally I’ve found these stories are rarely used, so at the time of writing this article it’s not really all that helpful, but you can check out the analytics on your own to see what kind of attention you’re gaining. Super bonus tip — if you want to use hashtags in your stories but you don’t want them to clutter up your image, shrink the text to the smallest possible size and hide the text somewhere within the image. Your story still pops up in the community feed but it looks clean. Instagram probably didn’t tend for you to use the feature in that way… whoops. 😉

If you’ve found these tips useful, consider a share. If you have any questions or want to follow up with me, drop me a line. I’ll be on Facebook. Cheers!