It’s time for another post full of hard-to-swallow Insta truths.
Well, not really. But it’s time for A LOT of truths to be unveiled on the #1 thing that majority of Instagrammers are failing at mastering…
Interestingly enough, when asking my fabulous & utterly-freaking-amazing clients what they struggle with most on Instagram, at least 80% of them tell me it’s hashtags.
They don’t know which ones to use, where to put them or how to find them. Basically, they’re clueless when it comes to hashtags on Instagram (which I guess is why they’ve come to me!) 💡
So, to solve all the problems of the world, in today’s post I am going to tell you exactly why your hashtags aren’t working.
Let’s not beat around the bush any longer & dive straight in.
6 Reasons Why Your Instagram Hashtags Aren’t Working
You aren’t researching your hashtags
The single most important thing you need to do before you use any hashtag on Instagram is research, research, RESEARCH!
I know, it sounds like a big job doesn’t it? But it’s not!
Hashtag research is as simple as a quick search on Instagram, checking through the content for no longer than 10-20 seconds (per #). Simple!
You see, without researching your hashtags, you’re more likely to end up using the wrong ones (like banned hashtags, which we’ll go through in a moment) or simply end up on the wrong track altogether.
So, before you go to use any hashtag on Instagram, be sure to research it.
In just a moment, you’ll learn exactly what you need to look out for. And, if it ticks all of the boxes & is a quality hashtag, then you’ll be all set to start using it!
You’re using banned hashtags
Dun, dun, dunnnn…
Whether or not you’ve heard of banned hashtags, I’ll help you wrap your head around them in no time at all with this simple one-liner.
Banned Instagram hashtags are: hashtags that have been blocked/banned for use by Instagram due to an excessive amount of inappropriate content such as provocative or racist imagery.
The idea of banned hashtags makes sense right? Well, it’s not always the most obvious hashtags that get banned. Even the most harmless of hashtags can end up with the type of content that’ll end up getting them block.
Here’s an example – the hashtag #beautyblogger is blocked.
Because way back in the day when it was an active hashtag, people took advantage of the fact that it was such a popular hashtag & starting “hijacking” it, posting inappropriate content 😅
So how do you know if a hashtag is banned or not?
Well, these “banned” hashtags are actually easily recognisable by an error message. You’ll find this message at the very bottom of that hashtags page (if it doesn’t keep scrolling that is).
Check out the example from our #beautyblogger hashtag example below 👇🏼
If you come across a banned hashtag with this error message in your research, ditch it immediately.
Not only is it a waste of a hashtag but there’s been talk [for quite some time now] that Instagram actually limits the reach of your entire post if you use them.
You’re using Instagram hashtags with too many existing posts
This mistake is a simple one, but one that surprisingly again not too many of my clients knew about before I started as their social media manager.
In fact, out of all the Instagram Audits I’ve completed over the past few months, I’d say that at least 90% of people coming to me for an overhaul have absolutely no idea that the hashtags they’re using have waaaaay too many posts on them.
Here’s what I mean..
When you’re using Instagram hashtags with let’s say more than 2 million existing posts already, you’re actually limiting your reach.
You see, because there are just SO. MANY. POSTS popping up every few seconds [and some, every few milliseconds!] you simply get lost in the crowd!
There are just too many posts using that same Instagram hashtag at the very moment you’re posting & it’s harming your reach. Yes, it’s a popular hashtag, but anything over that 2 million-ish mark is almost too popular 😱
Aim to always keep your hashtags limited to those under the 2 million mark (with the more popular ones sprinkled here or there) and you’ll be set for success!
Your hashtags are too generalised
Using basic hashtags on a social media platform as huge as Instagram like #food, #dogs or #friday is just silly.
Why? Because they’re far too generalised!
Each time you’re researching hashtags for your Instagram, flick through the “related” hashtags in your search & see what others apply directly to your niche/audience.
Don’t know who your audience really is on Instagram? Read this post & then pop back for the rest!
So, in your research for super-dooper-awesome hashtags, you’ve gotta think outside the box. I mean, the hashtag #food has 247,500,000-ish posts right now!
Not only is that a-hell-of-a-lot of posts to compete with, but it’s way too generalised & isn’t targeted enough for people to actually be searching for it.
If we changed this around & instead of using the hashtag #food we used #sundaybrunch (which has 1.4 million posts), then you’d certainly be increasing your reach, hands down 🙌🏼
And remember, target, target, TARGET!
You’re using the wrong amount of hashtags
This one needs no longer explanation than this…
Always use 30 hashtags per post, no excuses girl.
By using any less than this amount, you’re majorly limiting your reach! Think about it.. Using 5 hashtags is putting you in front of 5 different audiences. Using 10 hashtags is putting you in front of 10 different audiences.
So, what should you do?!
USE ALL 30 HASHTAGS! Always.
Don’t skim out on hashtags & limit your reach chick!
Whether you post ‘em in your caption or your comments, it doesn’t matter. Use the maximum amount of hashtags allowed on every post you publish and don’t feel bad about it.
You’re not rotating your hashtags
Did you know… Instagram absolutely hates it when you use the same hashtags over and over and over and over and, well, you get it.
Yep, every time you use that exact same set of hashtags for weeks in a row, months in a row or (the worst of all) years in a row, Instagram is limiting your reach.
So, what can you do to avoid all this? Rotate your hashtags girl!
Rotating your hashtags is as simple as creating a few different lists of hashtags (in your research stage) & working through them as you post.
So, on Mondays you use List #1, Tuesdays is List #2, Wednesdays List #3 etc…
Or, you could even work with weeks. So the first week of your month you could use List #1, week number 2 would be List #2 etc.
Play around with your techniques & see what works best for you. As long as you’re rotating your hashtags every 3-4 weeks, I’m sure you’ll stay in Instagram’s good books 😉
Plus, not only are you keeping Instagram happy, but you’re getting in front of another 30 different audiences with each new hashtag list you’re using!
Now, if you’re reading all of this & thinking “but holy shit Elley, how am I meant to keep track of my lists?!” hold on just a moment longer girl, I have the answer…
Later! No, I’m not talking about doing it later, I’m talking about the super awesome Instagram management/scheduling tool I’m always raving about on my Instagram, Later.
Within Later, you can not only schedule your Instagram posts but create your hashtag lists & add them with the click of a button as you create your content. SO FREAKIN’ SIMPLE 👌🏼
And, if you aren’t one to plan your posts all that far in advance & love posting on the fly, then you could just create your lists in the notes app on your phone. That way, all you need to do is quickly copy & paste your hashtag lists each time you’re ready to publish. Voila!
So girl, I hope you’ve now got a much better grasp of what hashtags are, what they do & how to use them to really boost your reach on Instagram.
Feeling overwhelmed still? Just hire me to run your Instagram for you! It’ll be fun (and you’ll get results), I promise 😜
Pick your graphic to pin this post for later! ⤵