Instagram hashtags not working? Read this!

12 February, 2019

11 mins read

Never Stress by Sharon Wright

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Hashtag. Pound sign. Number sign. Octothorpe. Whatever you call them, every social media guru is spouting how important Instagram hashtags are for getting you more followers, likes and comments. So, you added them to your strategy—but your numbers haven’t changed by much, if at all. What’s the go? Why aren’t they working?

Technically, it could be one of many things, including:

  • You could be using ‘shadowbanned’ hashtags AKA the ones being hidden from feeds by Instagram—even though they deny doing it.
  • Maybe you’re using too few or too many.
  • Or, it could be down to using the wrong ones.

We’re here to show you how to fix all of these problems to grow your Instagram account.

If you’re not already on Instagram or haven’t made the switch to a business account, here’s how you can set one up in just a few minutes.

What causes shadowban on Instagram?

Shadowbanning is Instagram’s version of putting you in the naughty corner. One of the most common shadowbanning topics is the use of banned hashtags, which if used too much can lead to your account being blocked for 24 hours or more.

There are certain hashtags Instagram either permanently blocks or does so temporarily due to too many reports of inappropriate content. You’d be surprised what hashtags can be temporarily banned—books was even on the list at one point.

To check if a hashtag you want to use is banned, search for it in the Tags menu under search. You may return a “No results” screen or posts may be displayed—but don’t be fooled. Scroll down a few times and if you come across the below message, don’t use that hashtag until the message is no longer there (which could be weeks or months).

Instagram post not found

Source: The Wallrus

How to avoid being shadowbanned for using spam hashtags.

It’s simple—don’t use banned hashtags. There has also been some evidence of Instagram shadowbanning accounts consistently using the same hashtags or using irrelevant hashtags. Adding hashtags to a post is one of the most time consuming steps of creating a post. But it doesn’t have to be.

You can save time by creating what are known as hashtag sets. Having an Instagram content strategy will help you see a pattern of what you post, which will make your job a lot easier than if you have random selections. To create your set, start by creating a spreadsheet or having a note in your phone. Next, list your most common types of posts. For example you may do a foodie post 2 times a week, a workout 3 times and have motivational posts to fill in the gaps. In this case, you’d create 3 different types of hashtag sets.

Neverstress by Sharon Wright

Before adding a hashtag to a set, research it using the methods above to check for blocking. Performing Google searches for popular hashtags for a topic can also make your job easier. There are also some handy hashtag generators to suggest relevant tags. It’s that simple. How many hashtags should you add to a set? We’re about to go into how many hashtags you should have per post, but ensure you leave enough space in your sets for some custom hashtags per post.

How many hashtags should you use?

You can use up to 30 hashtags on any one post on Instagram. And while it’s a debated topic, you should be using as many as possible for every single post. Some digital marketers will say using the full 30 looks spammy, but there’s ways you can avoid this. Plus, once you see your engagement numbers go up, you’ll be like spammy schammy (unless it gets you shadowbanned, and this won’t if you follow our tips above).

Where should you put hashtags on an Instagram post?
There are two ways to add hashtags to a post without them looking spammy. The first is in the post itself.

First write your post. At the end, leave a trail of vertical dots. To make this work, don’t space before hitting return for a new line. Once you have a few dots (like below), enter your hashtags in a paragraph format.

For example:

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Your second option is to put your hashtags in your top comment at the time you post. This is as simple as putting all your hashtags in a comment under your post and hitting Post. However, many influencers have reported a drop in engagement when they do this, while others have said it’s worked. If you have your Instagram business account setup (learn how to do so here) you can track your engagement and trial these experiments on your own account to see what works for you.

What are the top Instagram hashtags?

Ah, now, this is one of those it depends on what the post is about kind of things. We mentioned above how spamming hashtags with irrelevant content can get the hashtag and yourself temporarily blocked. But there is a popular hashtag for pretty much everything.

The top hashtags of 2018:








#iphonesia (see note for definition)



Before you go planning posts around these hashtags, stop. They are popular because people are using them regularly. This could mean someone is posting to them every second of the day—resulting in posts getting lost. While you should use popular hashtags, mix them in with less popular ones. Most importantly, only use them if they are relevant to your post.

Note: iphonesia refers to the largest iPhone photography group in Indonesia. Hopefully this saves you the Google.

Need more help getting your social media following rolling? Talk to our social media experts at Localsearch.

There are more than 2.2billion people using social media every day to check-in with friends and family, watch cat videos and find business just like yours. Our social media services can tap into the audiences you need to grow your business online. Call us on 1300 36 0867, email or visit our social media page to learn more.

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