Why Instagram Hashtags Are Not Working Anymore

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Hashtags were once a tool that could really help you grow on Instagram. However, that strategy is no longer nearly as effective as it used to be. Simply put, hashtags are just not working anymore. 

Hashtags Not Working Effective Anymore on Instagram
Original purpose.

From day one, hashtags have served us by categorizing our posts. That’s what they were designed and ultimately created for — to tell Instagram’s algorithm,

This post is about…

  • #rockclimbing
  • #baking
  • #jazzdance
  • #smallbizproblems

So, people started to figure out,

“Oh wait, if I use specific — popular within my community — hashtags related to the post, I could kinda cheat the system and intentionally get my content seen by more people!”

And for a very long time, this was working.

But over the last few years, it’s become less and less effective.

Why Instagram Hashtags Are Not Working Anymore

Instagram Hashtags Not Working The Way They Did

Number one: More people.

Let’s face it, the number of users on Instagram has grown by leaps and bounds. 

To give some perspective, in 2014 the app had 200 million users. A few years later, in 2016, 600 million and, today, over 1 billion active monthly users!

Hence, there’s a lot more fish trying to swim down that same hashtag river.

Number two: Instagram wisened up.

They started to recognize that people were trying to cheat the system and use hashtags for something that wasn’t their (IG’s) intended purpose.

Because of which, they started to change the way hashtags worked and, in general, their ultimate effectiveness. 

Number three: Instagram’s algorithm.

The artificial intelligence that runs Instagram is very intelligent and it continues to get smarter and smarter.

And so the AI (i.e., the algorithm) no longer needs us to write #rockclimbing to know that your Reel is, indeed, about rock climbing. 

Now — the computer is smart enough to look at the post, read the caption, assess the video and whatever else it’s freaking doing… and figure out, 

“Got it! This account posts about rock climbing, so we should show this person’s posts to more people who are interested in that!”

Instagram Depends on Algorithm Now and Not Hashtags.

The algorithm is legit that smart now. It no longer needs us to tell it who we want to reach or what we’re posting about.

How, then, do you get your stuff seen today? Are there new ways to cheat the system, if you will?

Well, it’s all about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and understanding how we can make it easier for Instagram to show us to the right people. 

For how to do THAT, check out this episode of Build Your Tribe:

And don’t forget to subscribe to BYT for weekly episodes on growing your social media!


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