You took the time out, you wore that #OOTD, did your hair and #MUA, called in your favourite photographer, caught that #GoldenHour rush and so much more for the #gram! You also may have taken the extra effort to hide hashtags for a cleaner, uncluttered caption. We’re impressed 👏👏!
You did so much to keep up with social media standards! 🙌🙌
But, looks like when you shared your picture and used those hashtags on the post, it did not reach your Instagram followers and it did not do so well. It means that your Instagram hashtags not working and that’s worrisome.
Your hashtags are not working because, you are inconsistent in posting, and you are using the same hashtags regularly. You are mismatching content & hashtag, you are not using enough hashtags and the hashtags you use are simply too competitive.
Sadly, you can’t just throw attractive-sounding hashtags around on Instagram; there are a lot more checkboxes than that. Your first instinct, when you see an Instagram hashtags not working, may be to assume you are using banned hashtags. However, this may not necessarily be the case.
There are plenty of other reasons behind Instagram hashtags not working.
It can be frustrating, with your Instagram hashtags not working in the Recents feed. Well, fret not – now that you are here, keep scrolling to find out – what could be wrong and how to make the best of all your hard work and hashtags on Instagram. Yes, hashtags are undoubtedly one of the most vital tools that add to the success of your account growth. They make you ‘discoverable’ on a platform of over one billion monthly users.
So this is us, discussing what could be causing your Instagram hashtags are not working, and telling you how you could use the coveted ‘#’ symbol more optimally!
Firstly, what are Instagram hashtags?
While Instagram has changed a lot since its launch way back when, there is one thing that has stated consistent, and largely unchanged. You know where we’re going with this.
Hashtags. The good old # symbol.
A hashtag is essentially a combination of letters and numbers (with no spaces) that is preceded by the # symbol. Using hashtags, is a nifty way of categorizing your content. For example, #fitnessfreak would indicate that the post you are using it with, has something to do with working out, eating healthy or generally keeping fit.
On Instagram, users can make searches based on hashtags. For example, if a user types fitnessfreak on the hashtag search, a page will appear with all posts using this hashtag in their captions. These posts can be sorted either by popularity or by recency of posting. Hashtag pages can also be followed.
This is the hashtag page for photography. It goes without saying, this is a VERY broad hashtag, and you’ll be very fortunate to have your post show up for this particular hashtag. This is especially true for newer accounts. Posts from accounts like these just won’t make it to a hashtag page with over 700 million posts. You should use more specific hashtags instead. More on this later!
If you have a public account and are using the right hashtags, your post is now exposed to a LOT more people apart from your current follower base.
So, do Instagram hashtags still work?!
Even in the year 2022, using targeted, relevant hashtags on Instagram are some of the best ways to get traction and be seen by a new set of audiences absolutely ORGANICALLY. And from here, it is a domino effect that is sure to translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business! It is basically a win-win situation.
But it is very important that you have a public account to leverage these Instagram hashtags for likes and engagement. Private accounts will not help you as much purely because of their ‘privacy’.
There are also some other aspects to consider when using hashtags. You should not string too many words (like forming a whole sentence) together, simply because that string will then be too hard to read without spaces.
You should also use your hashtags in a way such that it looks appealing, and not desperate for reach. Over the years, people have found several ways around this. For example, some Instagrammers put a couple of hashtags in the caption, and more in the comments.
Before we proceed, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘Instagram hashtags not working’:
- One possibility is that your posts are not showing up in hashtag search results at all
- Second, your hashtags are simply failing to expand the reach and engagement of your posts, which is restricting the overall growth of your account
Here we have listed some of the things you might be doing wrong leading to a situation where your Instagram hashtags not working along with quick fixes for you to ace your #GramGame.
Disclaimer: There is a lot of evidence that already suggest that these fixes do help, but you shouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary too soon. Stick to these hashtag best practices, and keep posting diligently. Growth will come, we promise!
Reason #1: You are inconsistent in posting😓
Opted for a digital detox? Or perhaps you are just having an erratic posting schedule, which means you are sharing two posts today and then five posts in a row two weeks later!
That’s not a good way of managing social media and it needs some rethinking. Find your jam because inconsistency is typically the number one reason why are your Instagram hashtags not working.
When you are not regular with your posts, you are breaking a pattern and the Instagram algorithm will not show your randomly posted content to a wider audience.
Posting consistently on Instagram gets talked about a LOT, but for a new social media manager, it can be hard to comprehend just how important it is. Studies show that this is one of the main factors considered by the ever-evolving Instagram algorithm when it decides where posts should show up.
While training our AI, we analyzed some random handles and the below graph shows the impact of posting regularly.
As you can see, on average, posts generate more engagement when they are posted daily. In case the duration between the posts is more – 3/6 days, the average engagement drops.
Commit to a posting schedule that can be three times a week or five, and stay at it. This will help your followers know when to expect to see your new content and the chances are they are going to engage.
It also signals to Instagram’s algorithm that you are dedicated, willing to grow your account and provide value. Or else, hire a social media marketer to ace the job for you. If you are running out of steam with your content ideas or don’t know what to post regularly, check out this overview of a tool that can tell you what works best for your handle!
Just making this one change can lead to a HUGE increase in your organic reach, and that’s a genuine promise.
Reason #2: You are mis-matching content & hashtag and hence, Instagram hashtags not working
Instagram has a separate explore section where you can browse through each hashtag. Here, you can find posts that are branching out from a similar topic having some common visual elements. And most importantly stating the popularity of the hashtag.
For example, search for #QuoteOfTheDay. It has more than 52,000,000 posts – making it an extremely popular hashtag amongst Instagram followers. The posts have a common visual element of a solid background and an easy-to-read font.
So if you plan to post using the hashtag – #QuoteOfTheDay with a heavy background image and a complicated font the post is most likely to not perform well. However, if you post with a beautiful pastel shade background with an easy-to-read font, the post is likely to perform very well. Consider this when you’re worried about your Instagram hashtags not showing up on the Recents page.
Imagine browsing through the #fitnessfreak page and seeing a post about fast food. How would you feel?
Before you proceed to create content for your Instagram followers, take a minute or two to explore this section of Instagram. This will help you understand the type of content that is resonating with the hashtag’s followers. This easy step will help you reach out to a greater audience set with increased engagement and avoid the problem of Instagram hashtags not working.
Reason #3: You are using the same hashtags🤨
Now that you have read the above two points, you are most likely posting consistently and posting what your Instagram followers want to see on that particular hashtag.
Now, please don’t keep using the same set of hashtags. Show some variety to your audience so that they don’t get bored. And stop Instagram from penalizing you for spamming with your same tried and tested set of hashtags. Check out this article to find out what software Ajnabi Lahiri, a Netherlands-based content creator, used to revive her dying hashtag reach!
Finding new hashtags for every new post is time taking?
Not anymore! get quality hashtags in just a few clicks with our free Instagram hashtag generator tool. Go check out right now!
The same hashtags will limit your reach as you are not casting your net wide enough. This might also make the Instagram algorithm penalize your posts and you will end up with the problem of Instagram hashtags not working. And we obviously do not want that.
Reach a wider set audience and manage social media at its best by choosing for variety and broadening out your hashtag use. Mix, match, and whip up the hashtags every time you post new content on your feed.
Look for trending hashtags for that particular day and mix them up with your content. [Tried and tested]
Reason #4: Instagram hashtags not working because you are not using enough hashtags
There is no particular number of hashtags to be used in one post if that’s what you’re thinking. However, each post on Instagram is allowed up to thirty hashtags. This means if you are using only five spots out of thirty, you are most likely missing out on opportunities to explore with your Instagram followers (click here to see how you can boost your follower count organically!). On the flip side, if you are stuffing your post with too many hashtags it may be counterproductive. For a more fundamental understanding of how hashtags work on Instagram, give this one a read!
So the deal is to find the right balance, and that comes with managing social media accounts with varied genres. We analyzed some random handles and the below graph shows the impact of using Hashtags in Posts.
As you can see, there is a positive impact on post engagement due to the number of hashtags in the posts.
It is good to start at the best practices number – 30 to manage your social media account and test out what works best from there. It might take weeks, months, or even a few years before you find an ideal number of hashtags to use on your posts. But, give yourself time, flexibility for trial and error for best results.
Reason #5: You are unable to produce fresh content.
This could indirectly be a reason why your Instagram hashtags are not working. Competition on Instagram these days is beyond insane, and you have to innovate on your content regularly. If you fail to do so, your audience will slowly lose interest. And remember, the unfollow button is always just a couple of taps away.
It is easy to say that your hashtags are not working, but oftentimes, this just isn’t the case. Your hashtags may be working just fine and maybe reaching the exact people that you intended to reach. However, without fresh content, they will always be unlikely to take actions on your posts and Stories.
Keep introducing new content, new colour themes, engaging Instagram Stories, contests, giveaways, and whatever else you can think of! It’s Instagram after all, anything related to your audience goes.
Innovating your content also means that you will be using different hashtags and hashtag combinations, and this will actively indicate to Instagram’s algorithm that you are trying new things, hence increasing your visibility. Hence, doing this will land you in a blissful multiplier effect on an upward-spiralling reach. Basically, any social media manager’s dream.
Reason #6: You have been shadowbanned by Instagram.
Shadowbans have remained a myth for some time, but there is enough proof now, that they are real and are affecting thousands of bewildered Instagrammers.
A shadowban is when a user’s content on social media sites is blocked from gaining reach/attention. It is done in a way such that the user does not know it is happening, but the user’s content is not showcased on explore pages, which is a huge blow to organic reach. However, it does pop up on the feed of those who are following the shadowbanned user.
It can be very hard to determine what caused a shadowban, but essentially, if you’ve been doing fishy, unethical things with your Instagram account (like buying likes and followers), don’t be surprised if you’ve been shadowbanned. Here are some other reasons why a shadowban could be in effect:
- Using software that violates Instagram’s terms of service
- Taking too many actions per hour
- Using an abused or broken hashtag
- Getting reported a lot
If you want to know all about the mysterious (but real) Instagram shadowban, hop onto this detailed blog, where we’ve discussed precautions and causes in minute detail.
To avoid being shadowbanned, simply be ethical while operating your Instagram account. Refrain from posting content that is violent or offensive in any way, don’t use illegal software, don’t take too many actions per hour (it’s best to distribute them throughout the day) and carry out active hashtag research, so you know the hashtags you’re using aren’t broken.
Reason #7: The hashtags you’re using are simply too competitive.
Most Instagram users sort the hashtag section by ‘Top Posts’ rather ‘Recent.’ Essentially, this means that the posts that are generating the most traction and engagement are shown first. These are usually high-quality posts from accounts that have a vast fan following.
If you are managing a new Instagram account, using a hashtag with such popularity on your posts may not get your post much attention at all. In this case, it’s not a matter of your hashtags not working. You just need to revisit your hashtag strategies.
For new accounts, try more specific hashtags. Sure, there are way less posts here, so the followers would intuitively be less as well. However, a lower number of posts means that your post will be more visible to the few people that do follow the hashtag.
It’s a matter of little exposure vs. no exposure. Take baby steps to increase your organic reach, and it will eventually create a multiplier effect; before you know it, your 720 impressions will become 7200!
Reason #8: You’re using too few or too many, leading to your Instagram hashtags not working
Okay, so there is some dispute on how many hashtags you should ideally use per post.
Should you use 30 hashtags per post and reach the limit, or keep it short and restrict the number to 2-3? That’s a question for the ages.
A lot of prior research has suggested that one should in fact, use all 30 hashtags when pushing an Instagram post. Using just ONE hashtag can generate 12.6% more engagement as compared to using no hashtag. Another study suggested that using 11 or more hashtags would generate over 400% more engagement when compared to a post without hashtags.
So these studies don’t exactly line up, but they definitely point to the same direction. The more hashtags you use, the more engagement you generate for the post. The question now is, how to use hashtags so that they don’t look spammy?
Creators have figured out a few different ways of inserting hashtags into captions while making them look non-spammy.
One way of doing this is writing your caption first, and inserting hashtags a few lines subsequently, rather than directly next to your caption. This way, the hashtags will still be there, only now they’re neatly tucked away under the Read More button (which the user may or may not click). Here’s an example that I found on the #photography page that I follow; it was in the Top, and not in the Recents section:
Another clever way of doing this is by leaving your caption as it is (or with a couple of attractive hashtags) and putting the rest in the comments section. Instagram is unclear on whether this affects reach, but recent studies have shown that hashtags added this way have the same effect.
Still, if your Instagram hashtags not working then you must lookout for some best Instagram hashtags that will increase your likes and engagement.
How to choose the right Instagram hashtags for likes and engagement!
We will have to agree – Instagram Hashtags are the unsung heroes of social media brand strategies. They do not get their due share! Don’t you agree? The truth is – even today in the year 2022, hashtags play a pivotal role in attracting a large sum of eyeballs [engagement] on your post, and on your overall Instagram marketing strategy. Hashtags are used in every aspect of Instagram – Reels, Stories, Posts, or IGTV. Their usage helps in showing the content to a large set of audience. It is true and proven that a post with at least one or more Instagram hashtags averages more engagement compared to posts without a hashtag. Yes! That is indeed true. Don’t believe us? Try it out yourself.
All in all – it really is worth creating a detailed hashtag strategy for your brand/clients on Instagram (and other social media platforms). It will only help you or them in long-term growth of your Instagram account.
This ultimate guide to Instagram hashtags will help you understand everything you need to know about using a hashtag. After reading this blog, you will have the following:
- More followers, read up more about how to grow followers here: How to Get More Instagram Followers?
- Improved engagement rate
- And, of course, a like-minded community that resonated with your business.
Let’s get started.
It is simple but let’s begin by answering a very important question:
Why are Instagram hashtags important? 🤔
Well, there is one thing that we will have to agree on; Instagram has changed a lot since its inception, from the logo to layouts to new ways of creating content, etc. But all through this, one thing has stayed absolutely consistent – the importance of using hashtags as we mentioned earlier. Even in the 2022, relevant hashtags are some of the best ways to get traction and be seen by a new set of audiences absolutely ORGANICALLY. And from here, it is a domino effect that is sure to translate into more engagement, more followers, and more customers for your business! It is basically a win-win situation.
But it is very important that you have a public account to leverage these Instagram hashtags for likes and engagement. Private accounts will not help you as much purely because of their ‘privacy’. For example – public accounts will help the content float on hashtag repository pages, check the picture below.
These pages help reach a larger set of [new] audiences. Consumers on Instagram follow these hashtags repository religiously for new content pieces.
Further, It is important and simple to understand that hashtags on the platform are used with an idea to discover and be discovered – the usage of the right hashtags can put you in front of your [potential] target audience, even if they have not been connected with you ever before!
Another example to understand the same is – A food blogger posts a picture like shown below – Citrus Detox Water Recipe, and then uses hashtags such as #FridayMornings #DetoxYourBody #DetoxWater #CitrusDetox. Instagram users can now discover this post on the repository pages of the above hashtags.
Now, that we have a fair idea of using Instagram hashtags for likes and organic growth, it is important to take note of the following:
- As discussed earlier, accounts with private profiles using hashtags on their posts will not benefit because they won’t appear publicly on hashtag pages. So, head up! If you have a private profile and are looking to grow your account – consider making your profile on the Instagram public. This you can simply achieve by tapping on the settings section followed by privacy settings.
- Numbers are allowed when using hashtags. Spaces and special characters such as @#$%, will not work and won’t fetch you any traction.
- It is important for you to know that you can only use up to 30 hashtags on a post on feed and 10 on Instagram stories. More than that, Instagram will not accept, and it will not post your content. So if something like this happens to you don’t fret!
Top 50 Instagram Hashtags of All Time! 😍
Now, that you have come so far in this blog – we are sharing [a goldmine of hashtags] THE TOP 50 Instagram Hashtags of all time! PS: Save it for the future.
Also, don’t forget to read up on this blog we recently posted on the topic: Are your Instagram Hashtags not working?
Now that you are sorted with a huge list of ‘evergreen’ hashtags on Instagram, let’s look at different types of Instagram hashtags.
Different types of Instagram hashtags
As a social media marketer, it is important to understand different types of hashtags, as they correspond to varying audiences. This helps in using the most relevant hashtags and developing an effective Instagram hashtag strategy.
These hashtags are the type of hashtags that resonate and connect a set of like-minded users around a specific subject. These hashtags do wonders in connecting people who think alike and enjoy similar things. Also, it helps in building your own little community on Instagram while increasing your searchability in this huge universe of Instagram hashtags.
To understand it further, let’s look at types of different community hashtags that you can use:
- Hashtags that talk about your product/service such as #Bakery, #CoffeShop, etc.
- Hashtags that showcase your niche in your industry such as #CakeDecorater, #TravelPhotographer (niche hashtags are very common amongst freelancers)
- Use hashtags for special events or seasons such as #IndependenceDay2022, #SummerSeason
- Use location-based hashtags such as – #OldDelhiFood, #AndheriEast, etc.
- Daily hashtags such as #TuesdayTip, #MidWeekMotivation, #FridayRoundUp, etc.
- Hashtags with phrases relevant to what you do such as #KickBoxingIsLove, #BakeryLove, #BeCreative, etc.
- Hashtags with acronyms are a must! #QOTD, #OOTD
- And, lastly hashtags with emojis! The cutest way to reach out.
While the above tips and tricks should be up your sleeves at all times and are great ways to get maximum traction, we also recommend that it is always better to use a variety of hashtags on your posts and stories. This will help your content reach different communities at one time and increase the chances of engagement on your posts. Read more about how to generate engagement on your posts here. For example, if you run a bakery account, you could use #GuiltFreeBaking to reach users looking out for healthy options. For users looking out for indulgence, #NoCheatDays, along with location-specific hashtags such as #DineInNewDelhi. This way you will reach out to varying people. Try it out!
A branded hashtag is a hashtag that is unique to your company/page when using Instagram for business. It can be something as simple as your company name #PredisAI or your tagline, or the name of one of your popular products, or any suggestively a lifelong campaign. You can also opt for an alternative route where this hashtag has nothing to do with your brand name but everything to do with your brand identity! That will work wonders too.
While community hashtags are meant to increase the reach of your message, branded hashtags are designed to connect themes for you and your target audience. These hashtags can be used to promote a campaign or simply collate User Generated Content. For example: AllBirds, an extremely popular all-natural sneaker company used the hashtag #WeAreAllBirds to drive awareness around their brand and generate brand loyalty by urging their customers to share relevant content.
Getting your followers to use your branded hashtag in their posts and stories is key to getting discovered and reached on Instagram by a new set of audiences. The branded hashtags will allow followers to see and tap on them to know more. It is like a digital way of word of mouth. Once you create your hashtag, remind your customers they can use the same while they share stories/posts. This way, your set of followers can tap the hashtag and see other posts about your business. It’s also a good idea to follow your branded hashtag to keep track of new content that’s being shared. You never know what ‘viral’ thing comes out of it. Each and every hashtag holds value.
While community and branded hashtags are meant to last, campaign hashtags are however lived for a shorter duration. They run only for a few days, a season, or maybe even a year. The reason campaign hashtags are shorter-term is that they are usually tied to a specific campaign such as a new product launch, special events, topical days like Diwali, or exclusive partnerships. So they are great for building a lot of engagement in a shorter span of time.
Tips for optimizing your Instagram hashtags 🎯
Lastly, let’s look at how you can optimize your hashtags to their best potential. A great Instagram hashtag strategy does not just reach more people – it also reaches the right people for overall business growth. Here are some tips to optimize your hashtags:
Check your Instagram hashtag analytics
In order to do this, navigate to any post you wish to gain insights on, and tap on View Insights (note that this only works for business profiles on Instagram). After you do this, you’ll see something similar to the following screen:
This will provide an overall idea of how your hashtags in the previous posts performed and what you can learn from it.
If you use different sets of hashtags for different posts, you will get an idea of how well each hashtag set is performing. This is why using a combination of Instagram hashtags is highly recommended!
To understand what complementary hashtags will work on your posts for maximum traction, read more about it here.
Essentially, when you input a creative and caption on Predis.ai, along with post improvement suggestions and caption recommendations, it also gives you recommended hashtags. These are predicted using AI, and are generally the most optimal for the particular post and for your handle.
Use your branded hashtags everywhere!
The branded hashtag that you have finalized, should first be added to your bio. This makes your bio interactive and one can tap to move onto the hashtag to see brand credibility/loyalty.
You can also integrate them with your contests and giveaways. When you ask your followers to make content around your products, ask them to use your hashtags as well! This may attract more hashtag followers and also increases your brand authority.
Basically, make an effort to entice your followers to follow your branded hashtag along with using it on their profiles. Holding contests and awarding them for the same are great ways of doing this. This will simply help increase the searchability of your branded hashtag.
Take an extra effort to make your caption look clean
After you have posted your picture and caption, utilize the first comment of the post for discoverable hashtags. This will make your caption look neat and not spammy. A lot of profiles have started doing this of late, and Instagram claims that it doesn’t affect the reach of your hashtags at all.
Alternatively, you can consider leaving a few lines between your captions and hashtags, so your caption is uninterrupted, and still looks clean. Viewers of your posts also won’t see your hashtags unless they click on ‘Read More’, yet your hashtags reach will not be affected.
Add hashtags to your Instagram Stories
Instagram pushes any new update on the platform to garner eyeballs. The same thing is true for Instagram stories too. It has a larger organic reach when compared to posts, so make the most of it. Add up to 10 hashtags to your stories.
Don’t put off your hashtag research
While you are posting hashtags in your posts, comments, stories, reels, etc. ensure you take five minutes out of the job and spend some time researching the hashtag via the search tab on Instagram. It will help you understand which hashtag has a larger following, increasing your chances of higher traction.
Also, keep in mind that the best hashtag for you is not the one with the most followers or posts. If you’re managing a relatively new account, chances are that showing up in the Top posts for a popular hashtag will be nearly impossible. Consider using more focussed hashtags instead, without fretting too much of the low follower or post count.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Instagram has a ‘Related Hashtags Feature?’ You can utilize this feature while searching for a particular hashtag and it will show you related hashtags which you can use in your content to increase traction.
Avoid hashtags that are banned or are spammy in nature.
Instagram will not appreciate this behaviour and will penalize your content on an immediate basis. This can be catastrophic for your overall Instagram marketing strategy, and in an attempt to grow your account, you’d be taking a step backwards. The only way to ensure that the hashtag you are planning to add to your repository is banned or spammy in nature is to simply search for it on Instagram and the search results will let you know. It is that easy! Take it a step further and ensure your account is free from all unethical practices like buying followers/likes, using automation software. Taking too many actions in too short of a time frame is also a major red flag.
Lastly, do not use hashtags for the sake of using hashtags. Use hashtags that are relevant and resonate with the content you are pushing. Otherwise, it will seem like you are being lethargic and repeating hashtags, minimizing your traction.
The bottom line
All this and more will help you in up-ing the hashtag aspect of your #GramGame. We are sure of this all you need is a bit of patience and a bit of perseverance.
Lastly, always use your hashtags correctly! Do not have space between # and the word, and try to use capitals before starting every new word – for example, #MyYogaRoutine instead of #myyogaroutine.
Have any other tips to share? Tell us in the comments section below, so we can keep updating this blog. If you want to simplify you hashtag research process, visit us at Predis.ai. The AI will help you choose the right hashtags for your post and handle! ✌️
If You want to learn more about Instagram strategies, you can join Digital Scholar’s online digital marketing course to gain in-depth knowledge.
Keep eyeing this blog for more insights on how to increase hashtag reach on Instagram (and reach out to us if you’ve used a strategy not discussed here)!
– This post was originally published in 2021, has been updated for accuracy and relevance.
Frequently Asked Questions:
You are inconsistent in posting, and you are using the same hashtags regularly. You are mismatching content & hashtag, you are not using enough hashtags and the hashtags you use are simply too competitive.
New to social media management or Instagram? These blogs listed below will get you started, and provide helpful insights on best practices to follow (and those to avoid) on social media:
- How to get more Instagram followers
- Tricks to generate engagement on Instagram
- Choosing the right Instagram profile picture for your handle
- Generating inspiration for Instagram content ideas
- Writing an effective Instagram bio
- Finding out the best time to post on Instagram
- Things to avoid doing with your Instagram business account
- Why you need a content calendar if you’re a social media manager