The hashtag is something that you can find everywhere on the internet these days, and it has social media to thank – particularly Instagram. While this feature actually originated on Twitter, Instagram has now become one of the most popular social media channels to use hashtags on.

When you put hashtags on your content, it gets featured along with other posts that fall within your industry or niche. This is going to help users who may not be following you already come across your content and follow your account as a result. It’s also going to make it a lot easier to connect with the people that you want to make into a loyal community.

Using hashtags to grow your Instagram account is essential. Believe it or not, if you have hashtags on any piece of content that you publish, you can expect a 12.6% increase in engagement just by having them there.

However, there are many users that complain or worry that their hashtags aren’t working and growing their account as they should. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your hashtags may not be working and check out what you can do to change this.

Reasons Your Hashtags Aren’t Working

1. You’ve Been Shadowbanned

One of the biggest reasons why your hashtags aren’t being as effective as they should is because your account has been shadowbanned. This is because people have severely misused hashtags in the past, which means that Instagram has become pretty strict on its guidelines around hashtag use.

If Instagram has shadowbanned your account, this means that they’ve limited your content only to be seen by your existing audience. Here is how you can get shadowbanned:

  • Using the same hashtags on every post
  • Using limited or banned hashtags
  • Using hashtags that are irrelevant to your niche

2. You’re Using Irrelevant Hashtags

One way you can prevent the issue of having hashtags that don’t work is by culling out the ones that have nothing to do with your industry or niche. Before Instagram started to crack down on this, there were many Instagram accounts that took advantage of the practice of placing popular hashtags on their content to increase the chances of it being seen.

However, this just simply doesn’t work anymore. It’s much better to stick to hashtags that are relevant to what you’re posting, as well as your brand. This will help you connect with your target audience.

3. You’re Using Hashtags that Have been Banned

hashtagAmazingly, there are over 114,000 hashtags that have been banned by Instagram. Why would Instagram do this? Because the content they are being used with is either explicit or inappropriate. While some banned hashtags are obvious as soon as you see them, others aren’t as much.

Instagram will even ban hashtags that have a lot of spam, like #books or #desk. All you have to do to figure out if a hashtag has been banned is to search for it in the search bar.

4. You Always Use the Same Hashtags

Do you have a saved group of hashtags on your phone that you copy and paste to each post? If this is the case, then you could be limiting the number of people you reach with your content.

This is because Instagram detects when you do this. It then suspects that you are only using hashtags to try and boost your following instead of providing valuable content. The best way to avoid Instagram red flagging your account for this is to have a large list of hashtags that you rotate. Try placing them into a spreadsheet so you can keep track of them.

5. Your Hashtags are Too Vague

It’s vital to avoid hashtags that are too vague and aren’t that specific to your content. While a broader hashtag can help you reach more people, at the end of the day, you’re much more likely to find new followers and increase your engagement overall when you use hashtags that are specific to your brand.

This is not only going to help you find new people to add to your community, but it’s also going to help you find people that actually are interested in the content you upload and your brand in general.

6. Your Hashtags are Too Competitive

If you use hashtags that have too many posts already associated with them, your content is going to drown as soon as you upload it. Many users still think that using hashtags that are popular is the way of the future, but this is only going to hinder your profile. This is because if a hashtag you’re using already has 1 million posts associated with it, it’s going to be super hard to stand out from the crowd.

We recommend finding smaller, more niche hashtags that aren’t as popular.

7. You’re Using the Wrong Amount of Hashtags

If you look up hashtags for Instagram, one of the most common questions about them is “how many should I use?”

There are some social media experts out there that recommend only using between five and ten per post, while there are others out there that say you need to use the maximum allowed – 30 per post. While there are all kinds of differing opinions out there, nobody can give the exact right answer. This is why we recommend being strategic about it and testing out different numbers of hashtags.

8. Technical Issues

While most of the reasons why your hashtags may not be working are down to engagement strategy, sometimes it can be as obvious as a user error.

This can include things like formatting and spelling of hashtags. If you’re accidentally misspelling your hashtags, then when users search for the hashtag that is correctly spelled, they’re going to miss out on seeing your content. It’s also essential that you leave punctuation out of your hashtags, too, as punctuation only creates broken hashtag links.

Sometimes, it can just be down to a technical error on Instagram’s side of things. If this ends up being the case, then hopefully it will be resolved soon.

Final Thoughts

The competition on Instagram is hotter than ever, and more and more people are attempting to stand out and make a name for themselves.

Using hashtags to get ahead is one of the best things you can do, but in order to do them justice, you’ve got to make sure that you’re using them in the right way. Otherwise, you could be hurting your account instead of helping it get ahead.

Whether your hashtags aren’t working because they’re nor relevant, or it’s simply a case of Instagram dealing with a technical error, as you can see there are practical ways to get your hashtags back to being an important part of your strategy.

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