Hashtags Aren’t Working On Instagram? 5 possible reasons why!

Jul 9, 2019 6 min

The hashtag. Some love them, some hate them, some use them, and some have no idea what their purpose is. The truth is, unless you have a following of the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, there isn’t a single reason why you should not use and become accustomed to hashtags. But what happens when hashtags aren’t working on Instagram?

Photo of a hand holding a smart phone with Instagram on the screen.

The hashtag.

Ever since the dawn of Instagram, hashtags have been the most effective and important tool for expanding the reach of your content. By adding relevant hashtags to the content you post, you’re exposing your work to new users who are consuming the exact content you’re producing. This means you’re reaching beyond your Instagram following to the perfect audience. The result is more potential engagement, follows, interactions and likes.

However, Instagram has reworked its algorithm over the years to prevent misuse & black-hat behavior when it comes to hashtags. Have hashtags stopped working for you on Instagram? Check these 5 tips to learn how you can use them the right way while staying on Instagram’s good side!

1. You’re using banned & flagged hashtags.

Let’s say you just finished your Monday workout at the gym. You’ve got your post-gym selfie ready to go; the perfect gym lighting is embellishing your sweat beads & the caption is eloquently crafted. You might use the following hashtags to describe your photo: #Fitness #FitnessLover #StayFit #FitBody #Fit4Life #MondayGrind #NewWeekNewGoals #WorkoutMotivation & #FitInspiration. To the everyday user – this harmless-looking bank of hashtags does a fine job describing your content. …Right? Wrong!!! #FitBody & #Fit4Life are flagged hashtags. This means that not only does your content not show up for these hashtags, but you run the risk of your content not showing up in the proper hashtags like #Fitness, #StayFit and #MondayGrind.

How to correct this?

If hashtags aren’t working on Instagram, you need to ensure you’re not using any that are flagged or banned. To avoid the risk of being penalized, you should research your hashtags before using them in your content. If you’re strapped for time in the Fitness industry, Fitness Hashtags App hand-checks flagged & banned hashtags periodically.

2. You’re using too many hashtags for your following.

Woman using her cellphone with too many hashtags.

When it comes to properly using hashtags on Instagram, there’s a thin line between what is acceptable, and what is not. Using too many hashtags with a brand new account that has a small following can result in a shadow-ban for all hashtags. This means that the content you posted won’t show up under any of the hashtags you used.

How to correct this?

If you’ve just started your Instagram journey and have an account that has fewer than 100 followers, limit your hashtags to 15 max. To ensure your content is showing up under the hashtags you used, manually check each of them! Just tap on each of your hashtags, then browse the ‘Recent’ tab to make sure your content shows up. If your content is not showing up, edit your post to remove 2 hashtags and then re-check the recent tab.

3. You’re using ‘follow / unfollow’ & ‘like’ bots.

A computer screen showing digitized computer code.

The fastest way to get on Instagram’s bad-side, or worse – banned from the platform, is to clearly violate their Platform Policy. Specifically – “Don’t participate in any “like”, “share”, “comment” or “follower” exchange programs.” Additionally, Instagram has released a blog post on this exact subject: Should I use apps that offer likes and followers?. Instagram is able to determine the authenticity of engagements on their platform. The best way to prevent hashtags not working on Instagram while avoiding the ultimate penalization is to stop using automation.

How to correct this?

Whether you’re a runner, a bodybuilder, or a yogi – Instagram is a perfect platform to harbor personal growth. Become an authentic asset to the community! Post quality content with well-researched hashtags, and engage with other voices in your niche! You’ll quickly begin to realize that 5 authentic followers trumps 100 automated fake followers any day of the week. And if you’ve already provided your login details to any automation services – the safest move is to halt further usage and immediately change your password.

4. Hashtags won’t work on Instagram if you’re coming across as SPAMMY.

If there’s one thing Instagram doesn’t bode well with, it’s SPAM. SPAM results in a poor User Experience for all parties involved, especially end-users and advertisers! If Instagram detects activity on your account to be considered spammy, expect to see a noticeable drop in reach & engagement.

By using the same exact hashtags over and over for consecutive posts, you’re waving the SPAM flag to Instagram. This is telling the platform that you’re not changing up the type of content you’re posting, you’re posting poor quality content, and you’re mimicking the activity of a bot or automator. All of these signals will limit the reach of your content.

How to correct this?

Even if there are similarities in your content, you should always uniquely tailor your hashtags. In the event that the content you’re posting is so similar that it does not need a new group of hashtags, consider adding all the photos and videos to 1 single post. If you’re in the fitness industry and need help choosing specific and relevant hashtags for your content, check out Fitness Hashtags App on the App Store.

Avoid SPAMMY hashtags. Another tip to avoid coming across as spammy is to avoid the use of spam hashtags. These hashtags include #Like4Like #PleaseLike #L4L #LikeThis #PleaseFollow & #FollowForFollow. Umbrella hashtags like these provide no value to your content. Instead, use only hashtags that accurately describe your content.

5. You’re using highly competitive hashtags.

Instagram analytics screen

A big reason for hashtags not working on Instagram is the ones you’re using are way too competitive. Enormous hashtags like #Fit #Gym and #Fitness have 140m+ posts. Content gets added to these hashtags upwards of 30 posts per second. This means when your content gets posted to Instagram, it’s at the top of the ‘relevant’ tab for just seconds before it’s completely buried. The main purpose of hashtags is for new users to discover your content. Enormous hashtags defeat this purpose.

How to correct this?

It is okay to use hashtags like #Fit #Gym and #Fitness, but you should supplement them with much smaller & less competitive hashtags. These smaller hashtags tend to be much more specific and relevant to your photo or video, and have a higher likelihood of engagement. Check out our guide on using highly targeted and relevant hashtags!

In conclusion

There are many reasons why hashtags aren’t working on Instagram. If you follow the above steps, provide real value to the Instagram platform, consistently post quality content while avoiding any black-hat behavior, you’ll be benefiting your account in the long-run! Just remember… It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Become a real asset to the Instagram community and in time, you will reap the benefits!

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