Hashtags are a great power. And then you must know, that it comes with great responsibility. You can either make it work for your account or completely mess it up and bury your Instagram page alive. Today we’ll talk about how to use the hashtags so you don’t end up calling memorial services.
Why in the World Would You Need Hashtags?
Hashtags, as the majority of things in the world, were invented for the better. They provide simpler navigation so that users can easily get posts about a particular topic. Say, a man in Uganda would love to see the posts with Abyssinian cats? He should just use a #abyssiniancat and he will get inundated with a myriad of cute furry and purry photos and videos of cats fast and furious. Let’s just hope he does not have an allergy to cats.
How 99% of People on Instagram Use Hashtags (Spoiler: Badly and Wrongly)
Unfortunately, today people use hashtags “just because everyone does”, to make their posts more likeable or get followers. For this very reason, the community came up with such hashtags as #like4like, #followme etc. It was the new best thing since sliced bread in the beginning as many users loved to fall into different hashtags and find out what’s in there. But right now it’s just landfill. Go try finding love among the #love hashtagged posts. Anything but love, huh?
But if you use generally accepted hashtags, still they will get you likes and followers. Not all is lost?
Nah. You wish. Those users who liked your photo using hashtags? I’m sorry. These are bots. Yes, it’s flesh-and-blood people who post their content on their pages, but they pay the services to like and mass follow people for them.
“Oh, what do I care? I get liked, this is important.” you will parry with the riposte. The truth is you should care because it affects you directly. Do you think when mass followers start following you, they will waste their time liking or leaving comments to your posts? They are very unlikely to see them at all. You can try it yourself: subscribe to 2,000 accounts and try searching for your friends’ posts in the Feed section.
When your posts aren’t shown to the audience, you will eventually get fewer likes and comments, so the engagement rate goes downhill and Instagram will recognize that your content is not interesting anymore, so the system will replace it with the posts from other users. How do you like that?
We ran an experiment with HypeFactory.com Instagram account using a ton of drastically different hashtags starting from the day we registered our page. Yes, the likes were going high, but the quality of the audience was dropping, and each and every day we saw more mass followers subscribed to the account which meant that the reach came crashing down.
But we didn’t stop there. We’ve misused hashtags and deleted the existing ones from the old posts. Right after that, we’ve noticed the numbers rising twice as high less than in a week. And it only keeps going up!
Well, yes, likes will go down. But you will have real followers, real people who will read your posts, like and leave comments to your photos and videos. And your reach and engagement rate increase in the short run.
The truth about ShadowBan
There are so many hashtag myths, the ancient Greeks would have burst with envy. The biggest myth is ShadowBan. Still, no real evidence at this date.
The silver medal of myths goes to the Lists of Banned Hashtags. Indeed there are specific hashtags the ‘Gram will not allow you to search for content with, but this is because only because they might violate the Instagram Policy. So harmless hashtags such as #like4like will always be available for use.
Instagram itself made an official comment on this:
If you post images with graphic content and brand it with a #crime hashtag, then Instagram will hide it or even remove it from your page. In this case, when searching for such hashtags you will end up reading this note
Bottom Line. How to Use Hashtags
You should not use general hashtags that are not anywise connected to the post, nor should you try going with the same 30-hashtags-kit for each post again and again.
Use unique hashtags to simplify navigation through your posts: make your users’ life uncomplicated.