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Why Are My Instagram Hashtags Not Working 2022

Wondering why your Instagram hashtags are not working, or aren’t giving you the results you expect? Here’s what you should be doing to reach more people.

Posted 2 years ago
instagram hashtags not working 2019

Written by

Tania braukamper
Posted 2 years ago
As hashtag experts, one of the first questions people ask us is “Why are my Instagram Hashtags not working?!” or “Do hashtags really work on Instagram?” Even though your content may look great, and your captions on point, despite your enthusiastic hashtagging, people just aren’t discovering your posts.

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You can take a deep breath and a sigh of relief because we’re about to answer all of your concerns and questions. So, if you’re wondering why your hashtags aren’t working, read on…

Do Instagram hashtags actually work?

First up, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘working’. When a hashtag ‘works’ the way we want it to, it means the post that we’ve used that hashtag on ‘ranks’ or appears in the top few posts of that hashtag when it is searched. This leads to more eyes on your image or video, and a larger chance that your posts will end up on new users’ explore pages, who might be interested in your profile and just haven’t discovered you yet.
💡 Hashtags should always describe the content that is being posted, so if someone is searching for a hashtag, and you’ve ranked highly on it, it means they will more than likely be interested in your post.

So, why are my Instagram hashtags not working?

One possibility is that your posts aren’t showing up in the hashtag search results at all, so new users aren’t seeing your content.
Another is that your hashtags are simply failing to expand the reach and engagement of your posts. If this is the case, then they’re not working as a useful tool to grow your account. And they should be – when used right, hashtags are one of the best tools for successful Instagram account growth.
Here are some of the things you might be doing wrong, leading to hashtags ‘not working’:

1. You’re using hashtags that are too competitive 🏅

For maximum exposure on Instagram, you should stick to using the most popular hashtags. Right?
Not exactly. Popular hashtags are great in the sense that more people search for and look at them. But they’re also super competitive. That means that if you use a popular hashtag, your post is competing with the hundreds of thousands (even millions) of other posts using that hashtag.
To put it another way, your post is like a needle in a haystack.
Hashtags can also be too competitive if the people ranking highly in them are getting a high average number of likes on their content (or higher average engagement than you do) – which helps to push their posts up and leaves yours to get lost in the lower results.
So, what’s the solution? Broaden out your hashtag selection to include terms that are less competitive, and more descriptive. For example, rather than #yoga, you might try #yogaforbeginners or #getonyourmat. Even better, go for a combination of broad/popular hashtags and specific niche ones to cover both bases. If you want to learn more about how to create the right balance of competitive, and non-competitive hashtags to hit the strategy sweet spot, click here.
You might want to capitalize on a trending hashtag by adding it to your post, but if it’s not completely relevant to your content you’re wasting your time. Worse – you might even get people offside. If someone is searching for #gymadvice, and they see a picture of something totally unrelated, they won’t pay attention.
On the other hand, if you keep your hashtags highly relevant to your content, you’ll maximize your potential for engagement. This is simply because there’s a greater chance that people searching for that hashtag will be interested in your post. Makes sense, right?

3. You’re using hashtags that are banned/flagged 🙅‍♀️

Instagram are pretty particular about their community guidelines. So hashtags that are found to sit outside of those guidelines get flagged for assessment and, potentially, get banned altogether.
So what happens if you use these flagged or banned hashtags in your posts?
Let’s just say, nothing good. Your posts won’t be discoverable for those hashtags, and you risk the chance that your Instagram account will be shadowbanned – aka, your posts won’t be seen by anyone who doesn’t already follow you – leaving you to wonder why your Instagram hashtags aren’t working.
It’s not easy to know which Instagram hashtags you should avoid. Flick’s hashtag tool automatically removes any that are flagged or banned when suggesting which hashtags to use, and will allow you to audit your selection of hashtags before you post.

4. You’re not varying your hashtags 🤷‍♀️

Another potential reason for your Instagram hashtags not working is that you’re doing a copy-paste of the same hashtags over and over again. While this makes life easier, it, unfortunately, isn’t going to win over you the audience you want.
Why not? Firstly, because your account could be penalized for spamming those hashtags (even if that’s not your intention).
Secondly, because you’re not casting your net wide enough. To reach more of an audience, you want to maximize the potential for people to find your content – and that means broadening out your hashtag use. Different people may search for different hashtags, so you could be shooting yourself in the foot by casting your net to the same pool of people, over and over again.
On top of that, users who see your content repeatedly for a hashtag they follow can select the option “don’t show for this hashtag” on your posts. All the more reason not to put all your Instagram hashtag eggs in one basket.

5. You’re not considering contextual relevance 🖼

You may not see it, but behind Instagram are AI functions that analyse images and detect their content. To what degree this happens and the accuracy of it is constantly changing – but if you consider Facebook’s face recognition AI (remembering that Facebook owns Instagram) you’ll have an idea of what we mean. And these days, social media platforms are becoming more and more intelligent at recognizing other objects and branding elements as well as faces.
This capability means that it’s worth considering the contextual relevance of your hashtags. In other words, you should think about using your hashtags to describe the literal content of your images, helping the platform to analyze and contextualize your posts.
You can read more about how to do this here, but to give a quick example: let’s say you’re posting a picture of your lunch. A hashtag without contextual relevance would be something general like #lunchdate, while contextually relevant hashtags would describe what’s on your plate (#veganburrito, #beansandrice, etc).

6. You’re rushing it 🏃‍♂️

We get it – painstakingly thinking about and researching which hashtags to use for every single post can be boring and time-consuming (that’s exactly why Flick was created!). It can also be confusing if you don’t really know what you’re doing.
The best safeguard here is to have an Instagram hashtag strategy in place. Make sure you understand how Instagram hashtags work and how to source out the best ones for your content.
Having a strategy will make life easier because it gives you guidelines to work within, and you can constantly analyze your results to understand which hashtags are working, and which ones aren’t. You’ll know what types of hashtags to use, the ratio of popular to niche hashtags to use, and how to group your hashtags for maximum impact.
Not big on reading? Don’t worry – you can also watch our hashtag guide below!
Once you’ve started using your hashtag strategy, you can use Flick’s in-built Analytics Suite to view which hashtags you ranked on, which position you ranked in, and whether or not they are low, medium or high competition hashtags in relation to your account and engagement. From there, you can keep hashtags that are creating traffic, and remove hashtags that aren’t working!
From there, giving every post the hashtag research time it deserves will be much easier, and will feel like second nature.

Make Instagram Hashtags Work for you

When you find your hashtags on Instagram not working, it can be disheartening. But really, you don’t need any kind of witchcraft to solve the problem, just some understanding and a little bit of work.
It mostly comes down to knowing which hashtags are the right ones to use.
Following the above points will help you narrow it down, and you’ll start to see the difference an informed strategy can make.
You can try out Flick’s Instagram Hashtag Tool for free if you want to find and search for hashtags that match up to your account performance, and analyze your stats all in one place. Flick was built based on everything we know about hashtags and Instagram algorithms, so it automatically takes all of these points (and more) into consideration when recommending which hashtags to use. If you’d like some more support when starting your hashtag journey, you can also take our course, which is free, here!

Hashtag Tracking

Finally uncover which of your hashtags are performing best.



Do Instagram hashtags actually work?

So, why are my Instagram hashtags not working?

Make Instagram Hashtags Work for you

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