PS: If you’re struggling to find the right hashtags that will get you to the explore page, make use of Ingramer’s free hashtag generator. Ingramer will provide you with customized hashtags that are specific to your niche.
A hashtag is simply a keyword phrase, spelled out without spaces, with a pound sign (#) in front of it. For example, #photooftheday and #fashionlovers are both hashtags. Although previously popularised by Twitter, Instagram has tremendously increased Hashtags’ use and relevance.
When you use hashtags in your Instagram posts, your content gets included among other posts that relate to your niche or industry. This expands your post reach by enabling users who may not even be among your followers to explore your content.
This consequently enhances your targeting strategy and enriches your brand. Before we embark on why your Instagram hashtags are not working let’s first look at their purpose.
Using Instagram hashtags is one of the most fundamental ways to get more engagement on your posts and gain new followers. In fact, social media marketers have found that using just one hashtag can increase your engagement by more than 20%
While generally, we all want more followers on Instagram, it’s pointless to have followers who are not interested in your niche.
Using appropriate hashtags enable you to target individuals who identify with your content. And if they like your posts, they are likely to follow you in the hope of seeing more content on the same topic.
Even if people don’t go as far as following you, they may like the content of yours that they come across when searching for a particular hashtag.
Instagram has grown phenomenally over the last few years. This means that there is no way that you are likely to deliver the right content to the right people accidentally.
When you use hashtags, you are effectively helping Instagram sort and organize your posts – helping them reach people who will value them.
Hashtags need to be unique to your page, content, and niche. Without a good Hashtag Strategy, you will certainly lose on the numerous benefits they offer.
Hashtags are useful in grouping content. These can either be general hashtags that everybody uses – in which case you are grouping your posts and images with others who upload similar content.
Alternatively, many businesses create niche hashtags to develop interest, and to consolidate posts relating to a particular product or campaign together. And this can translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business.
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Why are my Instagram hashtags not working? Here are some of the reasons:
Instagram hashtags not working may be caused by the fact that Instagram has banned certain hashtags for everyone. Meaning nobody’s post will show in the banned hashtag feed.
Contrary to popular assumptions, banned hashtags are not limited to offensive, inappropriate or explicit content, there are innocent or harmless hashtags (e.g #desk and #lean) that get banned due to such reasons as a high volume of spam associated with them.
Hashtags are either banned temporarily or permanently. Using banned hashtags could potentially get you shadowbanned or even stop other hashtags from working on your post. Instagram currently had over 115,000 banned hashtags.
How then do you ensure your Instagram hashtags are not banned? Well, you need to check for bans on each hashtag you need to use. On the explore page, hit the search icon and type in the hashtag you wish to use. If it doesn’t appear, it is banned
Sometimes it may appear on the list and still be banned, you need to do a further check on the hashtag by tapping on it and scrolling down. If it’s banned a message will show at the bottom as illustrated below
- Related: How To Remove Followers On Instagram
Here’s a list of abused and banned hashtags on Instagram. Try avoiding their use. Otherwise, your post will be marked as insulting.
# Your profile is shadowbanned
Another reason for Instagram hashtags not working is a profile being shadowbanned. If you notice a sudden drop in your Instagram engagement or reach, you might be shadowbanned. The actual cause of the shadowban in terms of hashtags is when hashtags are hijacked and misused. This happens constantly.
Instagram’s official stance is that they do not partake in any form of shadow banning. They claim they don’t take such actions against accounts. If they want someone banned, they’ll just ban them, after all.
There’s no reason to do some underhanded trickery to hide them instead. In reality, shadowbans do occur. Over the years Instagram has put in place stringent guidelines on hashtag usage.
It’s no surprise you may commit spammy hashtag offenses unintentionally and this may cause a shadowban on your account.
Shadowban has the effect of limiting your content to only your followers. This hinders your reach to new audiences. some of the common offenses include:
- Using a broken or abused hashtag
- Using trending hashtags irrelevant to your post
- Repeatedly using the same hashtags in all your posts
If shadowbanned, remove any hashtags that are banned or misused in your posts. Omit hashtags on your posts for a few days. if this doesn’t fix the issue you may want to contact Instagram and report the issue.
Hashtags need to be relevant and specific to your niche or industry. It’s important to be selective on the hashtags you use and to ensure that they are relevant to your target audience.
You need to ask yourself what terms your ideal clients would be searching for. Similarly avoid trendy hashtags like #followforfollow #weekends #summer etc, as they are counterproductive to your hashtag strategy.
For business, a smart hashtag strategy may combine a mix of popular hashtags that appeal to a larger audience and more niche-targeted less popular ones that will more likely ensure that your content gets placed on the top section of that hashtag.
By doing so, you cast your net wide among both popular hashtags and smaller, more targeted ones.
As you might know, every hashtag on Instagram has two tabs: Top and Recent. The top tab shows the contents that received a lot of likes and comments in the first couple of hours that they were posted.
They can stay on the top tab for several hours and receive a lot of exposure and organic likes and comments. Instead, the recent tab just shows every photo or video that includes that specific hashtags in order of publishing time. That’s it.
So imagine posting a photo using the hashtag #photography, that at the moment I am writing has already 535M posts.
Your photo will last less than a second on the first 9 photos shown on the recent tab and it will never be featured on the top tab because that hashtag is way too competitive.
This means that you have to find 30 hashtags that are not too much competition in order to get discovered by users that are not your followers yet and get more organic likes, comments, and follows.
I personally suggest to use a 10/10/10 hashtag strategy for every post you publish:
- 10 Low-Competitive Hashtags (5,000 to 50,000 total posts)
- 10 Mid-Competitive Hashtags (50,000 to 200,000 total posts)
- 10 High-Competitive Hashtags (200,000 – 2,000,000 total posts)
Find the right hashtags is not a 1-minute task. It actually takes time and sometimes lateral thinking.
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You can start searching on Instagram long-tail hashtags starting from broader ones. If we start typing on your Instagram photo caption a hashtag such as “#outdoorshots” you will start receiving a lot of suggested hashtags:
- #outdoorshots: 5000 posts
- #myproshot: 76,500 posts
- #discoverlandscape: 231,000 posts
Just doing this, you have now a low, mid, and high competitive hashtag
The need for a good hashtag strategy cannot be overemphasized, Hashtags can be a great way to attract your ideal clients, connect you to other creatives, and brand your business.
Use them thoughtfully, sparingly, and do your research critically and you’ll surely maximize your business progress.
Sometimes it’s exhausting to have to select hashtags each time you make a post. We recommend automating this process for posts on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Instagram.
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